by Calven Celliers
I’m not a fisherman, never have been, probably never will be! But the other day as I was reading a passage of Scripture in the book of James, dealing with temptation, I found myself thinking about the terminology that Jesus’ younger brother used, and for whatever reason it created a story line involving a little fish in my mind. Random, I know. But bear with me and hopefully it will soon start to make sense.
“14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.” (James 1: 14 & 15NLT)
Imagine a little fish swimming along, having a great day. Sightseeing is hungry work and before he knows it, he’s worked up quite an appetite. He has an inner desire. At this point he is still ok; he’s just hungry. No harm done… yet.
Just like that hungry little fish we all have inner desires as part of our sinful nature. The word desire in this passage refers to the illicit desires that we all have within us. We all have temptations. Be it to think something wrong, say something wrong, or even do something wrong.
So, our little fish is innocently swimming along when suddenly he spots a fat juicy worm dangling in front of him. Instantly, he is attracted by it. The word James used is enticed. Like this little fish, we are all enticed from time to time. We see the bait, and it looks good. It may even make us feel good. We want it. Just as a fisherman puts bait on a hook to lure fish in, so the devil and the world put bait out there for us. Just as our little fish is enticed by his hunger and lured towards the worm, so James says that we are enticed by our own natural desires and lured toward the temptation.
When we see that bait, of course, we should immediately turn around and flee. Unfortunately, however, we’re a bit like little fish that hang around dangling hooks too long. Eventually we start playing with the bait, in the hope of satisfying the hunger within. But we need to be aware of the danger. Temptation is not a catch and release game. The moment that you and I said yes to Jesus, we became an enemy of Satan, and he would like nothing more than to see us take the bait and end up sizzling in the frying pan of defeat.
The temptation to sin is a given, so don’t be surprised by it. Expect to be tempted daily, and be prepared for it. Temptation is not a sin. Sin happens when we yield our wills to the temptation. That’s when we get into trouble.
If we do not spend time with God, developing our relationship with Him, how will we ever endure the temptation that will come before us? We need to balance our lives so that we have time for God, because without that relationship, we have no resistance to temptation. Think about it like this – every temptation is an opportunity to do good. Pastor Rick Warren says that ‘On the path to spiritual maturity, even temptation becomes stepping stone rather than a stumbling block when you realise that it is just as much an occasion to do the right thing as it is to do the wrong thing. Temptation simply provides the choice. While temptation is Satan’s primary weapon to destroy you, God wants to use it to develop you. Every time you choose to do good instead of sin, you are growing in the character of Christ.’
We know that our flesh is weak, but let us never forget that God’s Spirit is strong. Only He can help us to gain victory over temptation.
So, when the lure drops, and that little worm hangs there in front of your eyes, when you come face to face with the temptation to sin, skedaddle! Don’t hang around. Flee. Run as fast as you can. Look for the way out – the way of escape – that God has promised. God loves His children.
He’s not a distant spectator merely watching us fumble along through life. He cares about us, and He doesn’t want us to be overcome by sin. God wants us to win our battles against sin because He’s interested in our well-being. As this verse from the apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians reminds us, God is faithful. He will always give us a way of escape. He won’t allow us to be tested and tempted beyond our ability to resist.
“13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13NIV)
God bless you,