I can be a pretty weak-willed woman. If I set my mind to something, I can visualize myself doing it with success — saying no to things I shouldn’t eat; refusing to say the thing that’s rising in my throat; running all the miles in my training program. But typically something happens between the vision and the action that derails me. It erupts out of nowhere like a volcanic chocolate lava cake. It dances on my tongue like Tic-Tacs. It makes running 6 miles feel like I’m trudging through a swamp.
It’s called temptation.
The initial resistance to temptation is strong. After all, I’ve decided what it is I’m going to accomplish, therefore my will is able to say no. But after any length of time, the doubt, desire and destruction arise and it’s just. so. hard.
I’ve always tried to remember the verse in 1 Corinthians as a sword to wield during these times. You know the one,
I say it, I think it, I meditate on it…but again, there’s a disconnect between my head and my actions.
Please don’t think I’m a heretic; I believe every scripture is God-inspired and God-breathed. But being the writer / creative type that I am, I think the disconnect for me is in the literal wording of this verse. In my mind, it sounds passive. The phrase, “so that you can endure it” doesn’t connotate to me the armor-of-God bearing, authority-taking power of Christ that He died to give us. So naturally when I’m faced with a plate of brownies or the impulse to talk sharply to my kids, the idea of simply enduring the temptation or bearing the temptation doesn’t make me feel victorious. And it doesn’t make me want to resist it, if I have to be honest. And even if I have resisted, I still feel weak afterwards.
- Jesus said He gives us authority to trample on snakes and scorpions, and to overcome all the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19).
- He gave the disciples the authority to drive out demons (Mark 3:15) and cure diseases (Luke 9:1)
- He said that whoever believes in Him will do the works He has been doing and will do even greater things than those (John 14:12).
So we can overcome the enemy, trample on snakes and do greater things than Jesus…yet simply endure temptation and try to bear it?
I’m sorry, but I just don’t think so.
This verse has come up again and again recently, and I just so happened to come across a translation that changed everything for me. It’s from the New International Reader’s Version:
Now that, my friends, is something I can latch on to.
Now I know the pure nature of temptation is that it’s hard; I’m not try to figure out a loophole to not being tempted, or to minimize how hard it is to withstand temptation. Believe me, I get how hard it is. A plate of my Aunt’s famous brownies later, I still get it. But what I am saying is that I need some hope when it comes to temptation. That even though it took everything in me to resist, I wasn’t left a whimpering heap twitching on the floor afterwards. I want to resist it, feel the spiritual and physical benefits of resisting, and feel like Christ and I just did something together that was pretty spectacular. That it was something I only could have done with His help and through His strength. I want to do a dance and then bump some holy fists afterwards.
So when I read the version that says God will give a way out so that I can stand up under it…well, it fuels my desire to kick temptation in the backside. It makes me want to fight, not stand there and take the hits and proclaim afterwards, “At least I didn’t die!” It paints a picture in my mind that shows me on my feet with my shoes of readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, my sword out and swinging and my belt of truth secure around my waist reminding me that “you, Lord are a shield around me, you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.” (Psalm 3:3)
Are we not at bedrock?
Is not this the God who armed me,
then aimed me in the right direction?