September 2019 Newsletter - "Temptation" by Nathan Padilla

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Temptation is an interesting topic that is sensitive for some saints who have an extremely hard time opening up about it. What is so interesting about that is that there are many who enter into the trial of temptation and yet feel so ashamed as if they are the only ones who suffer through that trial, when in fact, the Apostle Paul states that there are temptations that are common amongst all men. (1Co_10:13) So you don’t have to feel alone and that you are the only one who suffers through these fiery trials. In this same chapter, the Apostle Paul was exhorting those who at the “end of the ages [that] have come,” which is speaking of now. “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1Co_10:13)

There is no temptation that God allows that “overwhelms us,” so then why do we feel overwhelmed? Because we instantly give in to the thought instead of resisting and using the Word to resist. The Greek word for temptation is G3986 paramos and it denotes: “an experiment, attempt, trial, proving, the trial of man’s fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy, internal temptation to sin, adversity, affliction, trouble: sent by God and serving to test or prove one’s character, faith, holiness.” (1) It sounds odd that God would be experimenting on us; however, it’s not in the way as we think of, like a kid and an ant farm. Experiment is defined as: “A trial; an act or operation designed to discover some unknown truth, principle or effect, or to establish it when discovered. It is not always safe to trust to a single experiment.” (2) Temptation, as we see by definition, is God allowing us to be tested to reveal the integrity and virtue that we have or lack within our soul. The temptation is the pressure that approves or rejects the saints within the church. No one is exempt.

There is no way to achieve the crown unless we strive lawfully (2Ti_2:5). The Apostle James testifies to the achieving of this crown is through overcoming temptation.

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” (Jas 1:12-15)

As soon as we conceive in our thoughts and indulge, we have already sinned. That is why the Apostle Paul’s resolve to this very problem is “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” (2Co_10:5). The High Priesthood was trained to take every thought captive due to the fact that if they had one thought that strayed away in God’s presence, they would die. Origen, on his discourse on prayer explains the reason for this scourging is God preparing us to draw closer to Him. “For it is not that whereas He tested them by fire for the proving of their hearts, the Lord who, for their admonishment, scourges those who approach Him, now wreaks vengeance upon us.” (3)

We may think of moments of temptation as correlated to lust, anger, gossip, vengeance, greed, and the like. However, there is another temptation that is perhaps the most dangerous that will most certainly be the most detrimental to our salvation. It is, as Origen describes, as the temptation to be the one who lacks the discernment to understand the thoughts of God and create according to their own imagination, due to their ignorance; these ones are, therefore, worshipping who they think is Jesus Christ, when in fact they have created a false image of who He is, by misinterpreting the Word.

It is when a man succumbs in the moment of tempting, I take it, that he enters into temptation, being held in its nets. Into those nets the Savior entered for the sake of those who had already been caught in them, and in the words of the Song of Songs, looking out through the meshwork makes answer to those who have been already caught by them and have entered into temptation, and says to those who form His bride: Arise, my dear one, my fair one, my dove. To bring home the fact that every time is one of temptation on earth, I will add that even he who meditates upon the law of God day and night and makes a practice of carrying out the saying, A righteous man’s mouth shall meditate on wisdom, has no release from being tempted. How many in their devotion to the examination of the divine Scriptures have, through misunderstanding the messages contained in Law and Prophets, devoted themselves to godless and impious or to foolish and ridiculous opinions?

What need is there for me to answer, when there are countless examples of such mistakes among those who do not seem to be open to the charge of righteousness in their reading? The same fate has also overtaken many in their reading of the Apostles and Gospels inasmuch as, through their own lack of discernment, they fashion in imagination a Son or a Father other than the One divinely conceived and truly recognized by Holy Writ. For one who fails to have true thoughts of God or His Christ has fallen away from the true God and from His Only Begotten, and his worship of the imaginary Father and Son, fashioned by his lack of discernment, is no real worship. Such is his fate through having failed to recognize the temptation present in the reading of Holy Writ to arm himself and take a stand as for a struggle already upon him.  (4)

It is our obligation to ensure that we understand this temptation amongst all the others. Fear, lust, greed and the like are more distinct to observe within ourselves. The temptation of creating a different Jesus because of our misinterpretation should instill the fear of the Lord into each of us that we would not fall into this temptation. It is the most subtle, most overlooked, and the most dangerous of all temptations. Instead of dreading this mistake, we should press in all the more with all sincerity, zeal and love for the truth. Amen.

1. Thayer Dictionary
2. Webster Dictionary
3. Origen’s Book on Prayer
4. Origen’s Book on Prayer