Temptation: The Reality Of Ruin
James 1:13-15 describes temptation as an initial seed of lust that originates in the heart of man. It does not come from God, because God does not know evil, and would not deceive man to hurt himself or others. You will notice there is no age recognition for temptation. It does not start or stop at any particular age. It is not a respecter of persons. Its prominence is not confined to one part of the world. The easiest place to locate it will always be within ourselves. Temptation’s greatest invention is subtlety. The slower it moves in, the greater the chance it has to change the viewpoint of the mind it penetrates.
Temptation is a real motivation. Do not let anyone kid you. If you have a need unfulfilled at home in your marriage, there is an opportunity to have it fulfilled by someone or something else. If there is someone who has hurt you, there is a way to get back. If you like something that belongs to someone else, there is a way to get it for yourself if you truly want it. There is a way to get someone else in trouble in order for you to make yourself look good. If where you worship has seen a decrease in attendance, there is a way to get more to attend without using the gospel. Temptation has a way of putting pressure on us. Jesus knows this as much as anyone (Luke 4:13). He knows temptation is a real force which does not know when to stop.
Temptation has so many forms, we could not exhaust them in this short message, but let me suggest a few:
Years ago, a hearing clinic at Northwestern University did some experiments on words that are hard to hear. One of the hardest words to hear in the world is NO. Is that a temptation? Of course it is. It is a reality. For some of us it is a ruin. All some people would rather hear is YES.
A mushroom expert said a mushroom known as the deadliest mushroom (Amanita Phalloides) is also the tastiest. This expert was asked how he knew this. He explained the poison was slow-acting, and the first symptom of poisoning is when the victim remarks, “Last night I at the most delicious mushroom of my life!” That is very characteristic of what temptation is.
Over eight million children disappeared in the United States between 1987 and 1990, at least on paper. It is interesting to note here that 1987 marked the first time the IRS required proof that the children claimed as dependents actually existed. After that requirement, many children started disappearing from income tax forms. Is it temptation? Probably!
A bus crashed at a busy intersection in New York City. The first report was that less than 10 had minor injuries. By the time emergency personnel arrived, over 30 were treated for injuries sustained in the accident. Investigators discovered several of those who claimed injury were not even on the bus, but saw the accident and got on the bus before help arrived. Was it temptation?
A young man approached his father for a portion of his inheritance. Within a short time, it is spent on harlots and other selfish deeds. He has no money, and his next job is a pigpen worker. Was he tempted? Would he recover?
The reality of temptation leads to ruin. Do people not know better? Can they not see where this is taking them? Knowing better does not seem to be enough when the person is experiencing the pain of having yielded to all a temptation offers. Remember 1 Thessalonians 5:21,22.