Ephesians 5:11–14 “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Bonhoeffer was right. In times of temptation, the Believer is not as much plagued with an urge to blaspheme God, as with forgetfulness of Him. His immediacy, His presence with us is obscured. In those moments, we sort of shift into automatic, not really thinking as much as acting upon impulse and reflex. Even when we’ve resisted for some time prior to actually caving in; our faculties are in gear, and then – tunnel vision and full speed ahead – the thinking has ended.
But it is precisely when in the moment, in the very throes of temptation that thinking is what we need to do most. To slow down, and get a hold of ourselves, and ask 3 questions that Temptation desperately wants (read our FLESH desperately wants) to keep shoved out of the front of our consciousness. The three questions address three elements which are present in every temptation. This is true whether we are tempted to give in to anger, greed, lust, pride, envy, despair or anything else, you name it.
Here’s what we must stop to ask ourselves:
a. What is the LIE behind this temptation? What does it promise, that once scrutinized, it is clear it cannot deliver? And what is the true end result that it hides.
b. What is the LUST it is promising to satisfy? What is the “hunger” it purports to fulfill? What is it within me this particular temptation resonates with? What precisely is the nature of my own sinful desire here?
c. What is the LOVE which must be violated in order to do this? Love toward the God who saved me? Love toward my neighbor? (read: husband, wife, child, sibling, co-worker, stranger, etc.) Who is it I will have to stop the act of loving in order to take this action or attitude up?
And if we take the time to stop and ask ourselves these 3 simple questions, we will soon find that the temptation looses both its attractiveness and its power. It becomes ugly and sordid. The vileness underneath its mask gets exposed to us. With this exposure, Temptation’s insistent knocking at the door of our desire soon slows, fades and stops. For then. Oh, it will return another day. But before you jump up to answer the door – stop to ask the questions one more time. You’ll be surprised.