The temptation to sin knows no social, racial or spiritual barriers. No group or individual has been immunised against it; sinners and saints alike experience the temptation to sin.

You may have an understanding of temptation that is wide of the mark, resulting in needless heartache. You may conclude that temptation has come because you are spiritually weak or have fallen out of favour with God. You may be appalled that the temptation to sin presents itself when you are praying, reading the Bible, meditating or worshipping the Lord. You may consider the ferociousness of the temptation and its ugly depth of evil to be proof that God has moved away from you. But that is untrue. Remember that the Lord Jesus Christ himself was tempted, yet he lived totally obedient to his Father in all things.

The purpose of temptation is to cause to behave in a way that is contrary to God’s will: to lie, cheat, steal, lust, hate, gossip, etc. It is important to understand that it is precisely because you are a child of God – though you may be a weak, struggling and doubting one, you are still his child – that Satan sees you as a legitimate target and so launches his attack upon you.

It is biblical to view temptation in a positive manner, as it is one of the ways God uses to help you grow and mature in your relationship with him. (Not that God is the one doing the tempting; that is Satan’s domain.) View every temptation as an opportunity to exercise your spiritual muscles by rejecting the temptation and choosing to do the will of God instead. And, like a body builder who grows stronger through exercise, you will become stronger the more you engage in making positive spiritual choices. No matter how often or how fierce the temptation you experience, you can be assured that God will not allow the temptation to be greater than you can endure: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

You may mistakenly think that you are the only one facing a particular temptation. However, the temptation you face “is common to man.” You don’t have the monopoly on any one area of temptation. Furthermore, your temptation has been experienced by the Lord Jesus Christ himself. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet with out sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) Those words, “tempted in every way, just as we are,” provide the comfort you need. As long as you are alive, temptation will exist. So welcome temptations as an opportunity to choose what is good, and to mature in Christ.

The next section suggesst some ways to avoid giving in to temptations.