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8 ways temptation works for our own good

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It’s hard to contemplate temptation as being good for us, but it can be if whatever tempts us draws us closer to God.

Author Tim Challies reviewed a book by Thomas Watson titled All Things for Good, in which Watson offers eight reasons why that turns out to be true.

Challies is right on the money when he notes, “Temptation is a universal experience. If Jesus himself did not escape it, we can be certain that we will not either.”

In fact, I doubt Satan ever relented in his quest to tempt Jesus to question who he really was, the level of authority he possessed and the role he was destined to play in saving the human race.

Watson explained that without temptation, we may very well not express our reliance upon God in prayer.

That’s where many addicts fall. They believe they’ve overcome their problem, put it behind them and are strong enough to avoid that trap again. That’s foolish. As soon as we adopt that attitude, we are toast. Because Satan is extraordinarily patient, he lies quietly until the right combination of circumstances and attitudes set us up for failure.

Each time we fail, we generally act like Adam did in the Garden of Eden by running away to hide in our shame.

In fact, Watson said that our continual temptation in areas of weakness actually works to motivate us to engage in battle against that sin.

“That temptation which the devil uses as a spur to sin, God makes a bridle to keep back a Christian from it,” he wrote.

Temptation can be the biggest instrument to promote humility within us. If we think “I’ve got this,” then do we really need Christ? And that’s why God often allows the struggle to continue because each failure brings us closer to him.

After all, why would we need a savior if we weren’t doing something that required saving? Does that mean we roll over and surrender without ever putting up a fight. No.

It does mean the temptation is always before us and we have a choice to make each time we face it. We should seek to enjoy more victories than failures, and giving in to the sin should gnaw on our conscience so that we turn to Jesus for help in overcoming the problem.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Paul’s admonition that he was powerless against a specific thorn in his side as outlined in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9:

“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Some argue that Paul battled a physical ailment, which served as a thorn. However, anyone who has ever battled an addictive behavior knows what a “thorn in my flesh” can mean, too. Having that thorn — that one sin we can’t seem to shake no matter how hard we try — keeps us fully dependent upon God’s grace.

Without that grace, we could truly come to believe “we’ve got this” and take all the credit for overcoming the problem. That, my friends, is what the Bible refers to as pride.

We all struggle with something.

As a result of our battle with sin, especially that nagging stronghold sin, it makes us far more compassionate toward people who struggle with the same thing. And, in that way, we can support each other.

As Watson noted, temptation works for good when it makes us long for heaven, a place where all temptations come to an end.

“This is to make God’s people wish for death to sound a retreat, and call them off the field where the bullets fly so quick, to receive a victorious crown, where not the drum or cannon, but the harp and viol, shall be ever sounding,” Watson wrote.

Any barrage of temptation that makes us desire to draw close to God, to get to know Jesus more intimately and to long for the day when we can live at peace with in Heaven, is a worthy benefit of temptation.

“The wind of temptation is a contrary wind to that of the Spirit; but God makes use of this cross-wind, to blow the saints to heaven,” Watson explained.

The full article can be found at

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Greg Gerber

A native of Wisconsin who moved to Arizona in 2009, Greg Gerber is a DODO -- Dad of Daughters Only -- to three grown daughters. He worked as a journalist for many years before pursuing a career as a faith-based writer, author, coach and speaker. Greg is the author of Pornocide: How Lust is Killing Your Faith, Stealing Your Joy and Destroying Your Life.

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