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HOW TEMPTATION COMES
The Pulpit Commentary
I. HOW THE TEMPTATION COMES.
1. From sinners.
(1) It comes from without. The evil of our own hearts inclines us to sin; but were we perfectly innocent we could not escape temptation. The serpent was a denizen of Eden. Christ the Sinless One was tempted. The sights and sounds of the wicked world penetrate to the most carefully guarded soul.
(2) The temptation is famished by those who have themselves succumbed to sin. It is sinners who tempt. Sin is contagious. The worst sin is that of those who, like Jeroboam, “make Israel to sin.” The bad man has terrible power for harm. Example, social influence, friendship, favour his designs.
2. By enticements. Sin is made to be attractive; and it is most important for all of us to know that there are pleasures in sin, in order that we may not be surprised at the discovery of them. The fruit is palatable, though, like apples of Sodom, it soon turns to ashes. If it were not so, who would run the risk of tasting it? If stolen waters were not sweet, who would choose to
wear the brand of a thief on his conscience? Herein is the great power of temptation. By slow degrees and soft inducements the evil is wrought. The subtle serpent succeeds where the roaring lion fails. Delilah conquers the man whom no Philistine warrior could overthrow.
“Devils soonest tempt, resembling spirits of light.”
II. HOW THE TEMPTATION IS TO BE MET. “Consent thou not.” Let no man deem himself the helpless victim of temptation. “God is faithful,.who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able,” etc. ( 1 Corinthians 10:13). We have wills. We can say “Yes ‘ and” No.” We are not responsible for meeting with temptation, since even Christ felt the cruel
force of this trial, but we are responsible for the way we behave under it..
“‘Tis one thing to be tempted,
Another thing to fall.”
Now, the resistance to temptation must be immediate and thorough. The tempter entices by gentle degrees, but the tempted must resist at once and with decision. He must not begin with the “retort courteous,” but with “the lie direct.” There is something brusque about the advice, “consent thou not,” very different in tone from the polite enticing manner of the tempter.
Yet this is necessary, for all that is wanted by the tempter is compliance — no active exercise of will, but a passive yielding. The resistance, however, must be active. The greatest danger is in dallying with temptation.
“Lie in the lap of sin, and not mean harm?
It is hypocrisy against the devil:
They that mean virtuously, and yet do so,
The devil their virtue tempts, and they tempt Heaven.”
The difficulty is to give a decided negative. With some people the hardest word to say is “No.” Remember:
1. There is a Divine grace to which we can appeal for aid in temptation, and a Saviour who can succour ( Hebrews 2:18).
2. We can best keep out sin, not by bare expulsion of the spirit of evil, leaving the soul empty, swept, and garnished, and therefore ready for the advent of worse sins, but by filling our thoughts and affections with pure and worthy objects, by overcoming evil with good.