Building up believers and the New Testament church

Temptation - In the Life of a Christian


All of us have desires. If we did not, the world as we know it would have ceased long ago. If a man did not have a desire for food, he would have quit eating and died. If he did not have a desire for sex, he would never have entered into union with a woman because of the responsibility it brings, and the human race would have ceased to exist. Desires are not wrong, for it is God who gave them in the first place. It is the use of desires that is the question. "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled, but fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Heb. 13:4). "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any" (I Cor. 6:12).

When desires begin to grow strong, sometimes our reaction is to try to "kill them." But nowhere are we commanded to put our desires to death. If we could destroy our desires, our lives would be an empty blob of nothing. God does not want to destroy our desires, nor will He answer a prayer to take them away. He wants our desires to be brought under control, so that we can be vessels of honor for His glory. Christ died to make provision for our whole being to be brought under the control of God. In that place only can we know every joy and purpose that God has for us.

One of the reasons our desires seem to be so strong is that before we came to Christ, we lived lives of sin, controlled by our desires. Our desires were exercised in ungodly lusts, and habits were formed in us that are deeply rooted. Those habits were not automatically taken away when we came to Christ. In Paul's words, we had "sowed to the flesh," and now we are reaping the corruption that comes from our sowing (Gal. 6:8). This does not mean there is no hope, but when we see some of the results of sin in our flesh, we should not be surprised or dismayed. Christ has made a way for victory in Himself, but all the work is not done in one easy "flash," separate from us. This salvation is going to be worked out in our flesh "with fear and trembling, for it is God at work within, both to will and do His good purpose" (Phil. 12:13).