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May 14, 1992

Trial or Temptation?

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When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot he tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone. JAMES 1:13
A trial can be a test of our character, a heavy burden intended to help us attain emotional and spiritual maturity. Maturity isn’t always an automatic result of trials, but it is the original goal.
A temptation, however, is a snare designed to trick us, capture us, and drag us down. A snare is evil and treacherous.
We must never confuse a temptation with a trial. Although we may encounter both in a typical day at work, they are not the same—nor do they have the same outcome.
What exactly is temptation? Temptation is the urge and enticement to become involved in a good thing in a bad way. For example, sleep is a good thing, and it is normal. Laziness is a bad thing, and it is sin. Eating is a good thing, and it is normal. Gluttony is a bad thing, and it is sin. Sex in marriage is a good thing, and it is normal. Adultery is a bad thing, and it is sin.
Temptation is not sin; surrender to temptation is. Temptation becomes dangerous and harmful when, like an air-traffic controller, we provide clearance for sin to land in our lives. It is when we give that OK from the control tower that the real trouble begins.
But we do have a choice: We can turn the sin away, shut off the runway lights, and cease all communication from the tower. When we deny sin the permission to land in our hearts, we wisely follow the avenue of escape that God always provides
(1 Corinthians 10:13).

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