Summary: How can we hope to live victoriously in and for Christ if we believe temptation attacks us because we’re horrible human beings of because God is mad at or wants to mess with us?
Myths about Temptation
Have you ever heard the stories about siblings who convince one of their siblings that they were adopted? It often really affects the one that is made to believe they are adopted. What a relief they feel when they finally talk to the parent and find that it isn’t true.
Many times, what we think we know about a situation is more problematic than the situation itself. This is just as true of a child believing that he has been adopted as it is of each of us believing a myth about temptation. How can we hope to live victoriously in and for Christ if we believe temptation attacks us because we’re horrible human beings of because God is mad at or wants to mess with us? How can we hope to overcome temptation if we think we must rely on our own strength to do it- especially when it seems designed to target the weak spots in our armour?
There’s something freeing and perspective-changing about learning the truth and dispelling a myth. In fact, that’s one of the premises of the television show Mythbusters. If you aren’t familiar with the show, they take many things that happen in movies or made famous from YouTube clips and test them in the real world to see they are real or make believe. Once we know the truth, we can walk in it with confidence. And what better truth is there than what we find in God’s Word?
One of the well-know Bible passages dealing with temptation is in 1 Corinthians 10. What’s amazing to me is that they key to dispelling three of the most prominent myths about temptation is found in a single verse:
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
Let’s begin to examine some common myths about temptation and see what the Bible really teaches about that myth.
1. Myth #1: “I’m being tempted because I did something wrong.” (Job 8:1-6)
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard some variation of this myth. It is beyond common for us to believe that trials and temptations come into our lives because we’re weak or broken or guilty of some sin. Now, don’t get me wrong; when we fall to temptations, we have sinned. But too many people believe that the very presence of temptation indicates a problem. They think, “there must be something wrong with me because of the way I’m tempted.”
One of the problems with this logic is that it’s self-defeating. If I believe I’m only tempted because there’s something inherently wrong with me, the battle’s already half lost. Before long, I’ll lose the motivation to fight at all. I’ll start thinking, “I don’t have a chance of beating this, so what’s the point of trying?” Soon, I’ll be giving way to temptation left and right and staggering under the weight of my own shame.
TRUTH: EVERYBODY GETS TEMPTED.
Here’s the truth: there’s nothing wrong with you. You are not the first to struggle with temptation or a set of temptations. Everybody- from the worst person to the “holiest" person you can think of- is tempted. We know this because in 1 Corinthians 10:13 Paul tells us temptation is “common to man.” While temptation is not common in the sense that we are all tempted by the same sin or trial, it is common in the sense that it happens to all of us, without fail!
Audience members of television talk show will sometimes find themselves the lucky beneficiaries of gifts ranging from the useless to the extravagant, depending on the generosity of the show’s producers. A comedian once joked that Oprah’s audience gifts were so lavish they bordered on the ridiculous, like a personalized Rolls Royce. Little did he know that in 2007 for her annual “Favourite Things” episode, she really would give everyone in the audience a brand-new car.
Although the temptation is certainly not a gift we want, it presents itself to all of us at various times in our lives. It doesn’t come only to the rich because they have more resources to be tempted by. It doesn’t come only to those who have made mistakes in the past because they’re more likely to mess up again. Temptation happens to EVERYBODY!
It happened to Adam and Eve, the first people ever created. (Genesis 3:6) Even Jesus experienced temptation (Luke 4:1-13; Hebrews 4:15). We’ll talk more about this later, but one thing we can conclude is that if Jesus was tempted, the problem must not be with being tempted! It’s not sinning to simply be tempted. The problem concerns how we RESPOND to temptation.