Growing through Temptation
All Christians are confronted with temptations. Temptation is not sin. When temptation comes, the goal is to grow through it into a stronger experience of Kingdom righteousness, rather than to fall through it into some spiritual setback.
But we also need to find the way of escape Paul mentioned.
In Psalm 73 Asaph reports on a powerful temptation that almost ensnared him: he nearly coveted the ease and arrogance of the rich. But he recognized this temptation for what it was, and, in the process of maintaining his righteousness, shows us six places to look in finding the way of escape from temptation.
First, Asaph remembered that we never sin alone: He reflected that sin on his part would be a betrayal of the community of faith (v. 15).
Second, Asaph took his temptation to the Lord (vv. 16, 17). By coming into His presence through prayer, He put his own circumstances in an eternal and heavenly perspective.
Third, Asaph contemplated the effects of sin (vv. 18-20). Sin, he reflected, is a slippery slope.
Fourth, Asaph expressed disgust with himself, that he would even contemplate descending into sinful behavior (vv. 21, 22).
Fifth, Asaph sought the counsel of the Lord (v. 24). He turned to God’s Law so that he could see the ugliness of his covetous inclinations and nip them in the bud before they had a chance to bloom.
Finally, he lingered in the presence of the Lord, meditating on his longing for God, until once again he began to know the fullness of joy and pleasures forever more which are to be had there (vv. 25-28).
All these ways of escaping temptation can make us stronger in the Lord, and keep us advancing against adversity in our pursuit of the Kingdom of God.
Next steps: Talk with some other Christians about how they deal with temptation. Share your own thoughts about how you might help one another in this important Kingdom-seeking discipline.