In all of us, believer or non-believer, there is temptation to sin and do what pleases us. It is paramount to being human, our emotions and judgement sometimes lead us to do what we think is best or what feels good, regardless of the consequences that may follow.
There is in every human heart a magnetic contrast between repulsion and attraction for that which we know cognitively will destroy us; the appeal of sin. We are all fallen sinners and we are drawn toward the evil that will ultimately enslave and ruin us. I wish I could say as Christians sin has less appeal to us, but it is most definitely not the case. In fact, I feel it is much harder for Christians.
As we strive to be more like Christ, it requires constant vigilance to keep fighting the spiritual war that daily entwines our hearts. We never (in this life) become immune to sin. Life consists of a series of choices: Either we forsake God to go after sin or we forsake sin to go after God.
Recently, I have been dealing with past and new temptations in my life. I would like to say, as I naively always assumed, that as I walk further with Christ my life would be (less) sinful and I would be (more) holy. However, God has a way of really refining and defining a person, and those who truly want to take up their cross and do His will must be put through fire to be tested and trialled.
But there is hope in suffering. In James 1 verses 2-4: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything". And again in 1 Peter 4 verses 12-13, "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed".
Whenever we think of sin and temptation the first thought that comes to our head is shame, guilt, and punishment, being undeserving and unworthy of God's forgiveness. Sometimes we even start to fall back and distant ourselves from God because of our shame. Like in Genesis 3 6-10, after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit they realised they were both naked and covered themselves up.
They knew they had committed sin as they disobeyed God and so when God tried looking for them they hid and did not want to face God.
I personally felt this when I was dealing with my temptations. Instead of running from my sin and turning to God, I hid and didn't feel worthy enough to allow God to find me. In the end, I distanced myself from God.
Miraculously however I learned something valuable in my trials. Even though sin and temptation conjure up a negative image, I would like to challenge you and myself to see it from a different perspective. There is glory in through temptation. There is glory through temptation because temptation and sin gives us the opportunity to return and come back to God.
Even if we have deliberately sinned, we need to be able to see how every temptation is God's gracious way of shaping us into the image of His Son. Every temptation we face is an opportunity to grow in Christ by submitting to His loving hand and seeking Him more fervently, thanking and praising Him for little victories. It is a chance to come back home to our heavenly Father and be whole again in Him.
I have learned that every temptation has a purpose (the three Ps)
- God may allow us to fall into temptation to prove the power of His Holy Spirit and the reliability of His Word. God promises us that He will not leave us or desert us (Hebrews chapter 13, verse 5). We can be assured He is with us even in our trials.
- God may want us to practise true faith – only in our temptations, can we really practise what we believe. As we must exercise all the faith in our hearts, minds and consciences to choose not to sin.
- God may want to prepare us for what's to come next. When we resist temptation we grow stronger and are thus better prepared for whatever the Lord has next for us. When temptation comes to us, it may indicate that God is readying us for some particular task on the other side; let us therefore be all the more diligent to fight through temptation so that we can be ready for what God has for us.
God's glory in temptation
Like I have learned from my own experience, temptation doesn't need to be ugly and doesn't need to make me feel unworthy and distant from God. I can choose to see it as a way to bring honour and glory to God as I succeed in the purpose which God brings me to. I do not need to bemoan the fact that I am tempted daily, nor must I seek to avoid temptation by exiling myself.
Instead, whenever I am tempted I can consider the purpose of God, allow Him to strengthen me and learn more about faith, submission and obedience.
Clarissa Yates is from Singapore but moved to live in Perth, Western Australia in 2008. Clarissa completed a BSc. in Molecular Biology at the University of Western Australia and is now working as a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Western Australia, where she is part of a research team studying therapies for lung cancer.
Clarissa Yates' previous articles may be viewed at