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September 22, 1993

Don’t Take the Bait

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[E]ach one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. JAMES 1:14
Mark Antony was known as the silver-throated orator of Rome. He was a brilliant statesman who was magnificent in battle, courageous, and strong. He was handsome and endowed with many good qualities, but he had one fatal flaw— moral weakness. On one occasion his mentor shouted in his face, “Oh Marcus, oh colossal child, able to conquer the whole world but unable to resist a single temptation!” Temptation is an appetite that lurks deep in the heart of every person.
Today’s workplace is full of temptations—the temptation to have an affair, to be rich, to wield power, or to acquire fame. There is even the temptation to strive for perfection, to shade the truth, or to cut corners.
Temptation can perhaps be best illustrated through the actions of a fisherman. He baits the hook and drops the line in place, hoping to lure an unsuspecting fish with the promise of fulfilled desire.
In James 1:14, James uses two terms that relate to the activity of a fisherman— “dragged away” and “enticed.” Later in the New Testament, both terms are used to describe the wiles of a harlot (2 Peter 2:14, 18). You no doubt get the picture: The fish is enticed by a juicy worm dangling on a hook. Hunger and craving prompt the fish to take the bait, unaware of the fatal consequences. He was deceived, of course, and now he’s caught. What he wanted for pleasure gave him nothing but pain.
Whenever we are confronted with an alluring temptation, we are free to choose whether to surrender to it. But we are not free to choose the consequences of the choice we make. Those were long ago determined by the eternal purposes of God.

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