Temptation

Photo Credit: Annelise Grace

I know temptation. We’re standing in the church lobby. His grin reminds me of a young Mel Gibson, and my heart stops.

We have legitimate church business to discuss. The attraction is mutual. I can feel it, an electrifying pulse between us. I look away.

Everyone else is a muffled blur. It’s only us, standing there. I try to appear nonchalant, pretend I’m distracted by my child. Yes, this is my little boy and I’m married, I remind myself.

We get through our conversation. I can’t remember what I’ve said.

I try not to dwell on it. But the thoughts slither in while I’m washing dishes, doing laundry for my family. I meet him in my dreams.

I love my husband; I love my family. This is crazy, absurd, ludicrous. But I can’t stop the thoughts from infiltrating. It’s like a spell.

Photo Credit: Annelise Grace

This shouldn’t surprise me. The enemy prowls around like a hungry lion looking for someone to devour.

What is the prescription for overcoming temptation? Submit to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

Desperation and my inflated sense of self reliance often pushes me right past the first step. I’m ready to resist. I pray and grit my teeth. I hold on, sweat it out, waiting for that devil to flee. I figure if I’m praying I must be relying on God.

When I win, I feel pretty good about myself toughing it out. I’ve managed to “prove” once again, the truth of God’s word.

But then there’s another attack, when I least expect it. It knocks me flat and leaves me breathless. The doubts come flooding in. Where was God? I’m never going to lick this thing.

Submitting to God is the critical first step to overcoming temptation. It turns out resistance is less about force and more about rest. I have to admit, this whole concept — dying in order to live, losing your life to save it — is downright counterintuitive. It’s upside down and inside out.

But my defenses, anything at all I can conjure up, is useless against temptation. It’s self fighting self. Only when I lose myself in Christ do I begin to overcome.

Another translation (NLT) says “humble yourself before God.” When I’ve come to the end of myself, when I recognize my own wretched inability to do right, when I remember why Christ had to die, then I simply lay myself down at the foot of the cross and let his blood cover me.

It’s from this place of rest I “resist.” In this place of life-giving death, the enemy has no claim. Faith in the finished work of the cross means I add nothing. I come to the cross as I did the very first time, just as I am. Then it’s no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. He overcomes.

How do you deal with temptation?

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