We get this happy assurance from the Letter of St. James. “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he hath been proved, he shall receive a crown of life, which God hath promised to them that love him.” (1,12)
Besides, we are also told that God does not tempt us. “Let no man, when he is tempted, say that he is tempted by God. For God is not a tempter of evils, and he tempteth no man.” (1,13)
We should just be guarded against the danger of thinking that God is tempting us, especially when we are hounded by a persistent and seemingly irresistible temptation. Temptations can only come from three sources: from our weakened flesh, the allurements of the world, and the evil one.
From the world, temptations can arise due to our improper relation with it. That’s when the world, where God has placed us to test us if we follow his will rather than ours, can stir the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. (cfr. 1 Jn 2,16)
Just the same, God can allow temptations to come to us. But when that happens, it’s because it can occasion a greater good for us, as long as we make use of our temptations to go to God rather than to run away from him.
St. Paul assures us that God is always in control of things. This is what he said: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.” These words somehow reassure us that there is nothing new about temptations. We should not over-react when we are tempted.
And St. Paul continues, “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.” (1 Cor 10,13) What better deal can we have when we have to deal with unavoidable temptations! We should just stick to God, to his ways. We should just enliven our faith, and not allow ourselves to be dominated by our own estimation of things.
It’s intriguing to note that Christ allowed himself to be tempted by the devil. (cfr. Lk 4,1-13) Although we can presume that the devil would have no chance to succeed in his effort, Christ must have allowed this event to happen to teach us how to deal with temptations which are unavoidable in our life.
Given our human condition, and especially when we enjoy some privileges and other special endowments, we have to realize that we would be a favorite target of the schemes of the devil. We need to be prepared for this lifelong condition of ours.
Whatever good thing we have in life has to be handled most delicately, with great humility. In other words, it always has to be related to God from whom all power and authority on earth comes. (cfr. Rom 13,1) It should be exercised always with God in mind and in heart. Otherwise, there is no way for it to go other than to be abused. Let’s remember that the only thing we are capable of doing without God is to sin.
We should never forget that only with God can we properly deal with our own weaknesses, and the many temptations and sins around. Only with him can we manage to resist the devil himself. Without him, we are easy prey, a sitting duck. Our earnest desire should be how we can be with God always, our union with him as strong and vibrant as ever.*