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The Nature of Temptation

Though temptations to sin are many and the options of sin too numerous to count, the fact of the matter is that whatever the temptation may be it will always fall within one of three categories.


In his first epistle, the Apostle John wrote, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world” (I John 2:16).


John identified the three categories of temptation, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. Let me now explain the nature of each category.


The Lust of the Flesh…put in its simplest terms is, “If it feels good, do it.” I do not think that you will have any problem understanding that this is one of main drivers of life in our world today. And this type of temptation can be accommodated spiritually, emotionally, and physically.


The Lust of the Eyes…again, in simple terms, “I’ve just got to have one of those.” The world in which we live is constantly waving its baubles before our eyes, telling us that to own this, or to buy that, to eat this or drink that, will leave us happy and fulfilled.


The Boastful Pride of Life…”Do you see me?” This is the one that drives much of social media. It is there that one can put their life on display then keep score on how they measure up with the rest of the world by the accumulation of likes or dislikes.


The Bible identifies lust as a strong, uncurbed longing or passion of legitimate God-given desires. To be driven by lust is an insidious slavery. The writer of the book of James tells us that it is not the devil who is the primary driver of temptation, but our own uncurbed appetites. He wrote, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for Gop cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lusts” (James 1:13-14).


If it feels good, do it! I must have one of those! Do you see me? Every temptation that you and I will ever face falls into one of these three categories. Therefore, we must be ever vigilant in the controlling and curbing of these spiritual, emotional, and physical appetites, directing them in ways that bring glory to God, not temporary fulfillment to ourselves.

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