John Flavel in his little book Keeping the Heart: A Puritan’s View of How to Maintain Your Love for God spells out 6 six things we need to guard against in regards to temptation. I’ve edited them with a contemporary slant for readability and clarity.

  1. When tempted it is suggested to us (by our own desires, i.e., James 1:14 or the Adversary, Satan or some other sinister agent) that here is pleasure to be enjoyed (Hebrews 11:25). The temptation is always wrapped in a pretty package and an enticing salespitch. However, the consequences of giving in to temptation will result in the accusing, condemning rebukes of our conscience (see Psalm 38). However, if we feel this inward distress it is a sign of the presence of the Spirit, and if we do not, our misery will be felt in the flames of hell. Would we prefer the gratification of some unhallowed passion, with the deadly poison that it will leave behind, to the sacred pleasure found in fearing and obeying God, complying with the voice of our conscience, and thus maintaining inward peace?
  2. The secrecy with which we often commit sin is exploited to to induce compliance to temptation. We are vulnerable to the sweet talk of the tempter who tells us that this indulgence will never disgrace us before men because no one will know it. However, what we may hide from the eyes of men cannot be hidden from God (Hebrews 4:13). No darkness nor shadow of death can screen us from His inspection.
  3. The idea that we will gain leverage in this world enforces temptation. But what does it profit us to gain the whole world and lose our souls (Mark 8:36)?
  4. The smallness of sin is encouraged as a reason why we may commit it. However, is there any little hell to torment little sinners? All sin must be punished. There are not big sins and little sins in the eyes of God. Am I willing to provoke God for a trifle? Am I willing to destroy my peace, wound my conscience, and grieve the Spirit, all for nothing? This is the defintion of madness!
  5. Sometimes we are enticed to sin because we draw from the mercy of God and the hope of pardon. But where do we find any promise of mercy in the Scriptures for presumptuous sinners?
  6. We might be encouraged to yield to temptation when we look at the moral failings of otherwise holy men. But did God cause their examples to be recorded for our imitation, or for our warning?
Advertisements