Broken marriages, ill health, pangs of conscience—these are just some of the consequences of giving in to temptation. How can we avoid this snare?
What is temptation?
You are tempted when you are attracted to something—especially something wrong. To illustrate, while shopping you see a desirable item. The thought flashes into your mind that you could easily steal the item and not get caught. However, your conscience says no! So you dismiss the thought and move on. At that point, the temptation is over, and you are the victor.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS
Being tempted does not make you a bad person. The Bible acknowledges that we all experience temptation. (1 Corinthians 10:13) What really matters is how we act when tempted. Some dwell on the improper desire and sooner or later give in to it. Others promptly dismiss it as wrong.
“Each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire.”—James 1:14.
Why is it wise to act quickly when tempted?
The Bible reveals the steps that lead to wrongdoing. James 1:15 says: “The [improper] desire, when it has become fertile [literally, “has conceived,” footnote], gives birth to sin.” Put simply, when we dwell on a wrong desire, we reach a point where our acting on it becomes as inevitable as a pregnant woman’s giving birth. Yet, we can avoid being slaves to improper desires. We can gain the mastery over them.
HOW THE BIBLE CAN HELP
Just as our mind can feed improper desires, it can also snuff them out. How? By our focusing on something else—an activity, a conversation with a friend, or a wholesome thought. (Philippians 4:8) It is also helpful to reflect on the consequences of giving in to a temptation, which may include emotional, physical, or spiritual harm. (Deuteronomy 32:29) Prayer too can be a big help. Jesus Christ said: “Pray continually, so that you may not enter into temptation.”—Matthew 26:41.
“Do not be misled: God is not one to be mocked. For whatever a person is sowing, this he will also reap.”—Galatians 6:7.
How can you fortify yourself against temptation?
See temptation for what it really is—a lure, or bait, that can lead a foolish, naive, or unwary person into danger. (James 1:14, footnote) That is especially true of temptations involving sexual immorality, which can have disastrous consequences.—Proverbs 7:22, 23.
HOW THE BIBLE CAN HELP
“If, now, your right eye is making you stumble,” said Jesus Christ, “tear it out and throw it away from you.” (Matthew 5:29) Of course, Jesus was not speaking literally! Rather, he meant that if we want to please God and gain everlasting life, we must deaden our body members, as it were, in regard to wrongdoing. (Colossians 3:5) That may mean resolutely turning our back on a temptation. “Turn my eyes away from looking at what is worthless,” prayed a faithful man of God.—Psalm 119:37.
Of course, exercising self-control can be difficult. After all, “the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) So we will make mistakes. However, when we are truly sorry and try hard not to make a habit of doing wrong, our Creator, Jehovah God, “is merciful and compassionate” toward us. (Psalm 103:8) How reassuring that is!
“If errors were what you watch, O Jah, then who, O Jehovah, could stand?”—Psalm 130:3.