Is Temptation a Sin?

Many times we think about the meaning of temptation and immediately think it’s a sin.  The bible says that God can never be tempted, right (James 1:13)?  Then again in Hebrews it says that Jesus was tempted in every way that any of us have or could ever be tempted (Hebrews 4:15).  How is it possible that he can’t be tempted but was tempted in every way? 

Being tempted and falling into temptation are two different things.  Let’s take a quick look at Adam and Even in the garden.  It all started with a tree, right?  They were both told they could have anything they wanted in the garden except that tree.  The enemy came and spoke lies (or a skewed view of the truth) to Eve causing her flesh to be curious about the fruit from that tree.  Tempted: She was tempted to try the fruit because it looked good. 

Was that a sin?

It wasn’t a sin that she looked at the fruit and was tempted because she wanted to see what it tasted like.  Sin:  The sin didn’t happen until she actually ate the fruit.  That’s when she fell into temptation.  She allowed her flesh to overrule what she knew was right.

When you read that Jesus was tempted in every way but that God can’t be tempted (and Jesus and God are one in the same), then you might wonder why it’s contradictory.  It really isn’t contradicting itself, though.  We are being told that Satan brought every temptation known to man in front of Jesus, but Jesus never allowed his flesh to take control.  He never fell into that temptation.

Because we aren’t Jesus, as I’m sure you’re already aware, we let our flesh take control too many times to even want to name.  Paul talked about this type of spiritual warfare in Romans.  Spiritual warfare is a fancy word for knowing what’s right but still desiring to do what’s wrong.  It’s like on TV where the angel is on one shoulder telling the person what to do while the devil is on the other shoulder trying to get the person to do opposite.  Have you ever felt like that?  You know you’re supposed to turn away from something, but you do it anyway, and then you’re just mad at yourself for doing it.  Then, you still decide to do it again sometimes.  It’s a horrible feeling, but we’ve all been guilty of it at one time or another.  Let’s look at what Paul said:

So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin.  I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.  But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  I want to do what is right, but I can’t.  I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.  But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.  I love God’s law with all my heart.  But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.  Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?  Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.  So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
Romans 7:14-25

Does this sound familiar?  I remember the first time I had ever read this scripture, I was going through this exact same thing.  I was at a point in my life where I knew God and had a close relationship with him but wanted to do some things that I knew was wrong — and did them.  I read this scripture and was shocked that Paul had the exact same thoughts that I had been having!

If you find that you are tempted often by the same things, then you know that particular thing is a real struggle for you, and you shouldn’t face it alone.  God places people in your life for this very purpose.  Try to look around for strong, Godly leaders who have crossed your path at some time or another, and hold them close to you.  Find one or two who you feel comfortable talking with about personal struggles and allow them to hold you accountable.  That means that you explain to them your deepest struggles and temptations.  Go to them when you are tempted to do those things and go to them during those times that you went ahead and did whatever it was that tempted you.  They aren’t there to judge you.  They are there to help get you through those times, and really they are there to make you stronger and help you avoid hurt that they know is ahead in certain situations.  

Most importantly, don’t allow the enemy to tell you that God no longer loves you after you’ve made mistakes.  That is absolutely not true.  God loves you, and nothing can ever separate you from his love.

Beautiful in its Time

My friends know I enjoy decorating cakes.  I’m by no means a professional, but it’s something I enjoy doing.  It allows me to be creative and spend some quiet time with my Daddy God.  I was excited when my sister-in-law asked me to do her wedding cake, but as the day drew closer I began to get nervous.  It was her wedding cake, so it had to be perfect.  I also started getting nervous because the wedding was a few hours away, so I literally packed up anything I might use for a cake and drove it along with my family to the destination.

I was relieved to hear that the church was allowing me to use their kitchen since there wasn’t really a way for me to decorate a 5 tier wedding cake in our hotel room.  We arrived at the church to unload on Thursday evening, and I was so excited to see the kind of kitchen I would be working in.  It was huge with more counter space than I could possibly need.  There was almost anything on hand that I might need, so I was immediately thankful. Then, they told me that the air conditioner didn’t work in there, and I got very nervous.

If you’ve ever made a cake, you can understand why my heart started racing.  The cake was supposed to be buttercream, and I had made A LOT of buttercream beforehand.  For those who don’t know, buttercream is so named because its primary ingredient is . . . butter.  Our outside temperatures have been around 105-110 during the past month, so no air plus buttercream equals disaster!

I decided to drop everything off and wait until Friday morning to get started.  As I worked Friday morning, my spirit wasn’t quite as joyful as usual as I watched my buttercream literally melt off of the cake and onto the floor.  I didn’t know what to do.

Finally, I carried everything to a folding table in the (carpeted) fellowship hall where everyone was working to set up and decorate for the reception.  The air worked a little better there, so it allowed me to use the fondant that I was thankful I brought as a just in case.  It wasn’t my
ideal working environment, but it worked.

I could feel the joy coming back as I saw my creation come together.  I stacked all 5 tiers and stepped back to give God a little high 5 for his help in that situation.  However, as I decorated the cake, it continued to lean more and more until it was so close to falling over.  Some of the tiers had already cracked, and I was fighting back tears.  It was still just too hot.  I gave up for the day and I had no idea what was going to happen with this cake.  All I knew was that it was not something a bride would be proud to display at her reception.  Luckily with the help of facebook and some knowledgeable cake decorating friends, I worked in the hotel to create the cake that was very similar to what I had envisioned.  I set it up on the bride’s table and placed the finishing touches on it.  I stepped back with a smile because it was beautiful.  Then, I felt like God was reminding me of Ecclesiastes 3:11.

 He has made everything beautiful in its time.

I know it sounds strange using this verse to talk about a cake, but that cake was far from beautiful the night before the wedding.  By the time I had finished, it was something that the bride loved.  It was beautiful!

Sweet friend, I hope you understand that God has made everything beautiful in its time.  If you’re going through days where you just don’t feel beautiful, spend time with God telling him that you don’t feel like the beautiful creation he says you are.  So often we think we can’t be honest with God, but he is the one you can be the most honest with.  He already knows, so why not confide in him those doubts the enemy is placing in your head?  Stop and listen to him as he reveals to you your true beauty.  Remember it’s not the world that sets the standard.  It’s the creator of the universe and of everything beautiful.  He knows better than anyone what beautiful is.  After you talk with him and hear his words, step back and realize that you are beautiful.   In the words of Lisa Bevere, you are stunning!  Don’t believe anything that says different.

This is the day

This is the day ~ this is the day ~ this is the day that the Lord has made.
I will rejoice ~ I will rejoice ~ I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Have you ever had one of THOSE days?  You know the day I’m talking about.  The one that makes you want to say anything except the words to this song.  It’s difficult to praise Him when you have a day straight out of a Cheaper by the Dozen-type movie.  Let me share a little about my day today.

My husband is on a business trip, and for some reason I felt it the moment he left.  I’m used to being home during the day, but there’s just something about knowing he won’t be returning at the end of it that makes me frazzled.  So I planned a day of errands with my kids.  I’m big into staying on schedule, and they both have a set nap time, but I was keeping them up today so they would be sleepy by the time I put them in bed since I had girls coming over for small group.  That was the plan.

We were out visiting the preschool our youngest will begin attending in a few weeks when she waited too late to tell me she had to go potty.  It wasn’t just a little late.  It was very late and very gross.  I’ll spare you the details.  Let’s just say it took a while to get everything cleaned up.  Luckily the director brought in some underwear for her to change in to.  Now, normally I would be completely grossed out by sharing what I can only hope are clean underwear, but I didn’t really have an option at this point.  I put them on her and apologized profusely for that embarrassing moment.

Then, the director asked for a ride down the street to pick up her car that was left for inspection.  I had no problem with this because I felt like I had known her forever, and there was no reason not to help her out.  I inadvertantly went into the wrong parking lot to drop her off, but it was close enough that she was willing to walk.  As I backed up in this parking lot that appeared to be parking for nothing, I realized it was already after 1, and we hadn’t had lunch yet!  I mentioned it to the kids who both were telling me how much they were starving when BOOM! I was interrupted by a crash between the back of my car and . . . wait, what was the other thing?  I looked out of all of my mirrors and turned around to look behind me and saw absolutely nothing.  I saw a truck to the side of me and then noticed a trailer attached to the hitch.  I hit a trailer and immediately went to check everything out when the owner of the trailer got out too.  I hadn’t been in a situation like that, so I had no idea what to do, and for some reason it seemed even worse knowing my husband wasn’t around.

We got that taken care of and had to make a quick stop at the grocery store before going home to have the lunch we still haven’t had.  Walking out of the grocery store, I had three bags in my hands and each hand was holding the hand of one of my kids.  We almost got run over by some boys riding their bikes, then I heard my son going “Uh . . .uh . . . uh”  I looked down and see that my sweet girl’s shorts and underwear both were around her ankles, and she was trying her best to keep up with my quick stride!  Poor baby.  The underwear was about 2 sizes too big, and her shorts had already been falling down all morning.  I noticed the boys on the bikes got a good laugh out of it.  I can’t lie.  We got a pretty good laugh ourselves.

I got in the car and read that the temperature on my car says 122 degrees.  That’s not even right.  Oh no!  That’s also when I realized that I forgot to put deoderant on this morning.  🙂

I don’t know how people make it through the day if their children don’t nap or at least go to their rooms for a quiet time because today seemed like it was at least 8 days long.  I finally got the kids bathed and in bed in time to prepare dinner for my small group girls.  They did perfectly well going to sleep.  Well, the youngest did anyway.

During dinner we heard footsteps.  The oldest woke the youngest up.  That happened 2 more times during small group, so I just brought the youngest down with me, which worked for a while.  Then she wanted to play.  Needless to say I wasn’t too involved in small group tonight.

Icing on the cake:  I am the “go to” person for our football team that begins next week, so I was getting information out to parents using a sample email sent by our head coach.  It was a sample of what another mom sent out to his older boy’s team last week.  There it was in the beginning of her email – the name of the head coach for that age group.  I immediately recognized that name as the name of the man whose trailer I hit earlier in the day!  So he is a dad at our small school, which is so small that everyone is considered to be “family”, and what a way to meet for the first time!  So now I’ve come full circle, and the events of this day are the culprit for why I’m writing so late.  This is the first chance I’ve had to sit down by myself.

Why did I feel the need to tell you all the details of my day?  Well, friend.  First, I couldn’t NOT tell that story.  I really do think they’ve made movies about this kind of thing.  As I’m writing it, I can’t help but to laugh at every detail.  Sure I could have cried, pouted, whined, complained or thrown my hands up in defeat.  There are so many ways I could have reacted to any one of these incidents, but why not just laugh?  What does whining, pouting, shouting, crying, or giving up accomplish?  Not a thing.

The truth is ~ this IS the day the Lord has made.  Why not rejoice in what we can look back and laugh at!  It’s so much more productive and healing to do that than remain in each of those circumstances.  I’m okay not having another day like this (please hear me, Jesus), but I know that today was his day.  Were there reasons for these things happening?  I have no idea.  Maybe God needed a laugh today, or maybe he will allow me to use this fun day for his glory (hmmm really?)  Who knows, but I do know that this day is almost over for me, and tomorrow is a new day.  All the things that went wrong today are gone, and I have no reason to dwell on any of them.