The True Meaning of Temptation

Here’s a little lesson on temptation.  The Greek word for temptation is Periazo, which means to reveal weakness within you.  You cannot be tempted by something if the weakness for it is not already inside of you.  If you are being tempted, God is using it to reveal TO YOU your weakness so you can pay attention to it and deal with its root.

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:” (James 1:13)

That is why one person can be around alcohol, drugs, food, shopping malls, people of the same or opposite sex and not experience temptation.  Temptation does NOT come from outside of us – it comes from WITHIN us.  Temptation is an extremely personal and individual experience, with each of us tempted in different ways by different things.

God does not tempt us, but He allows us to be tempted.  It works in the same way your body coughs when you are sick –  you cough to get anything that is not native to your lungs out of your lungs.  The cough is actually not your problem – it is a symptom of your sickness.  In the same way, temptation is not the problem – it is a symptom of your weakness (or for Celebrate Recovery people – your hurt, habit or hang-up).

We have to pay attention to our temptations.  We cannot control the desires that rise up within us, but we CAN control what we do with those desires.  We can choose to take our thoughts captive and not dwell on thoughts that feed our unhealthy desires.

1 Corinithings 10:23 says “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.

I have to remind myself continually that just because I have a desire to do something doesn’t mean I HAVE to do it.  It is a choice every time.  When I am self-soothing myself with food, it feels like I am out of control, but I am actually making a non-thinking decision to do it most of the time.  When I confront myself with the truth that I don’t HAVE to give in to the desire and the temptation, half of the time I refrain.  Now I just need to get the OTHER half under control!

God knows how much temptation we can handle.  But like a good, non-codependent parent, He allows us to experience and also fall into the temptation that stems from our weakness. Otherwise, we would never have to come face to face with our issues – He would just keep rescuing us and we would never learn anything, grow or be healed.

1 Corinthians 10:12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 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.

So the next time you experience temptation, don’t just automatically give in to it, or try to simply withstand it in your own limited power.  Speak the Word of God to yourself – yes, you can have it, but is it beneficial and constructive to you, or will it tear you down?  Ask God to show you the root of the desire, and ask the Holy Spirit to empower you to stand and not fall.  Remind yourself that having a desire and giving in to a desire are two different and non-related things.  Look at the temptation as the cough telling you that you need the Doctor – the Healer – to remove the root cause of the weakness.

Penny Haynes, Ministry House