Temptation … I used to fear it like the plague – but now I relish in it! Sounds pretty bizarre, I know, let me explain…
FEAR OF TEMPTATION – I AM SO WEAK
I came back to the Church after 42 years of living my life filled with pleasure at every turn and doing what I want – when I want. I was pretty much living a immoral life. But early into my faith journey I realized how wrong I was and I wanted to change.
I relied on my own will power. I thought I could handle these temptations by myself. Only to find that I was haunted by Satan and seduced over and over and over again. I kept falling and kept doing what I knew was wrong. Full of shame and embarrassment I wondered why I couldn’t control my behavior. I loved God and I wanted to change. But I couldn’t seem to control myself and turn away from all the lures that seemed to be around every corner.
But I kept going to confession, thanks be to God. As I said my sins out loud over and over I felt so disgusted with myself. I even prayed for God to take these sins away from me.
What was wrong with me? Why do I do what I know is wrong – even as I am doing it? What is up with THAT?
Romans 7:15 – I do not understand my own behaviour; I do not act as I mean to, but I do things that I hate.
If I am honest with myself, I think I was like St. Augustine and I really didn’t want to change some of my behaviors. Even though I knew they were wrong in my head I didn’t really want to change in my heart. I love God and wanted to please Him but yet I didn’t want to change – quite yet. And God knows me better than I know myself – He knew I wasn’t truly ready to leave these things behind me.
So, He didn’t grant my request at that time. He knew I needed to grow. I believe He wanted me to suffer a few more consequences from my actions to genuinely and humbly get on my knees and beg Him for his help. He wanted me to desire to change deep in my heart – now.
Which is exactly what happened…
There was a time when I finally hit the wall with some of my sinful behavior – and God finally graced me with the power to walk away from it!
BRING ON TEMPTATION!
So, what could I possibly mean by “temptation is a good thing”?
I look at temptation like this:
1) The Father is watching me and wondering if I will follow (imitate) His Son. Will I turn away from the temptations of this world? Am I a true disciple of Jesus? Or do I just say that I am?
2) Satan is also waiting and lurking in the shadows of my life, wondering the exact same thing! Will I truly turn from his seductions or am I committed to following Jesus? Will I walk away from Him and prove it?
My actions, words and decisions matter! I show God and Satan which side I believe with every choice I make. It is not easy, that’s for sure, but it is a new way to think about it when temptations surface and look you square in the face.
And when you decide to put God first and ultimately your SOUL first – life in “this world” becomes secondary and life in “the eternal world” becomes primary. I now look at walking away from temptation as a way to show God my love and put Satan behind me.
Am I perfect? Of course not! But I do ask myself who do I want to please and make myself stop and answer that question before I dive into an urge. This helps me take a minute to allow that temptation to pass as well. We all have those moments when we want to grab that drink, drug, food or whatever other temptation is facing us and it is helpful to pause for a moment and ask what impact it will have on us if we choose it … or not.
By succumbing to the temptation, did we choose Jesus or Satan?
Genesis 3:1 Now the snake was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the LORD God has made. He asked the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat from any of the trees in the garden’?”
That’s a deep question – did we choose Jesus or Satan? And even though we know the answer we want to choose (I am pretty sure we want to choose Jesus) it helps to actually ask ourselves that question. It might even be helpful to say it out loud, too. Satan cannot invade our thoughts, so we should ask the question out loud and inform him and the other evil spirits that we are contemplating good and evil.
It is also the time when we need to reach out and ask Jesus and Mary to help give us the strength and grace to walk away from the lures and seductions of the dark, evil one. I think we should say that out loud, too, we all know how much Satan loves Mary (not)! Let’s show Satan that we are going to her for her help.
It is also the time to remind ourselves how horrible we will feel if we do choose to give in to temptation and by doing that, we choose Satan.
Genesis 3:13 The LORD God then asked the woman: What is this you have done? The woman answered, “The snake tricked me, so I ate it.”
Another question we should ask – is that moment of pleasure or whatever your temptation is worth it? You know exactly how you will feel when you are “finished” with it. You will be overwhelmed with guilt, shame, horrible feelings of weakness and self-worth.
But if you put your hand up in the face of Satan and that temptation you will feel so happy, so grateful, so powerful and peaceful that the grace of God helped you walk away and choose Jesus – to imitate Jesus. You will feel like his obedient servant and a little bit more holy, too!
1 Peter 1:14-16 Like obedient children, do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance but, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, “Be holy because I [am] holy.”
TEMPTATION IS A GOOD THING
Temptation is an opportunity to show The Father of our love of His Son and for us to also show Satan that we choose the narrow path and for our souls to be in Heaven to worship God forever. The life we have on this earth is nothing compared to the eternal bliss we can obtain by making the right choices.
- Ask Jesus and Mary for their grace to walk away – out loud.
- Stop and ask all of the questions and review the ramifications and feelings we will have IF we choose to succumb to the temptation.
- Our choices show The Father and Satan our love for Jesus and our quest for holiness (or not).
You can hear more on my free 10-minute podcasts at www.realityreflections.com on the episode “Temptation -It’s A Good Thing!”
Have a blessed and inspired day!