Oct 9, 2020
What To Do When Temptation Comes My Way
Josh Cowger’s electrician business consumes massive amounts of time, which is why he longs for fall, bow hunting elk in the Pacific Northwest, and reacquainting with his soul. 2020 will be remembered by Josh not only for COVID-19 and race riots, but as the year he survived a mountain lion attack.
Josh was hunting alone, and as the mid-morning sun warmed his back he decided to take advantage of this time away from his busy job to take a much-deserved nap. He was startled awake by a low growl, opening his eyes to a crouching lion, who attacked once its position had been compromised.
Josh tried to back up from his lying position with no success, and as the lion leapt upon him Josh went into full defense mode and kicked at the air. By chance (or was it?) his boot struck the shocked lion in the neck, turning it in mid-air. Stunned, the cat turned and retreated into the wilderness!
The Crouching Lion
My son Darby and I recently returned from 8 days of archery elk hunting. We had opportunities but couldn’t seal the deal. One memorable morning found us surrounded by a super herd (over 200 elk), eight screaming bulls, with only a fence line separating us from them. But that boundary between public and private lands was the difference between life and death—the elk knew it and refused to cross.
Genesis 4: 1-16 is the horrific account of Cain killing his brother Abel out of jealousy. As Cain plotted his murderous scheme God visited him and said, “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it” (Genesis 4:7).
This truth is as real today as it was then. Sin is a hunter. It preys on the isolated—tempting them, calling out, begging men to crossover into unsafe lands.
What Temptation is Not
Temptation is not sin. It is when we are tempted to sin, but temptation is not sin in itself.
The elk we hunted never crossed the line, and they lived. Cain crossed the line and became a murderer in one choice. Jesus taught the Disciples to pray, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6: 13).
Temptation is the fence line between us and sin, and instead of creeping as close to it as possible without crossing (as the elk did) we should turn and run like Joseph away from Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 19:19-23). This is what Jesus meant in the Lord’s Prayer.
But even when we get too close to the fence line God still provides an escape, according to 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
Facing the True Lion
We often give way too much credit to Satan for our choices to sin.
“I’m under spiritual attack.”
“The devil made me do it.”
“I could feel Satan whispering to me.”
Satan is not omnipresent like God. He can only be in one place at a time. With these facts in hand, why would he waste a second of his time on you? Are you (or me) that big of a deal? The short answer is, “No!”
Sure, He tempted Adam and Eve. Of course, he tempted Jesus. But you? Come on!
Yes, it is true that, “The devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).First, the roaring lion is never the one to worry about. Like in Josh’s story, only the quiet stalkers kill. A roaring lion is not a hunting lion.
Second, notice that in many translations, “devil” is not capitalized because it probably means sin, evil, or the devil’s evil schemes (Ephesian 6:11), not the actual Devil who, again, is not omnipresent. Either way the devil is not your true lion.
James, the brother of Jesus names the true tempting lion in James 1:13-14, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.”
Brother, you are the true lion that is crouching at the door to attack. You are your own worst enemy.
Boots on the Ground
Instead of using our boots to flee from the lion, let’s face him down instead. Let Hebrews 10:39 encourage you, “For we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed…”
Face the lion.
Confess your sins to a trusted brother. Protect your electronic devices from you! Start or join a Men in the Arena “local” or “virtual” team by inquiring on our website. Leave no upswept dark corners in your house. Stay far from the fence line of sin.