Temptation is an opportunist as it passes by. Looking for the slightest nod, it hopes only for our invitation to pause a moment on the porch for our consideration of its merit versus cost and risk. Surely merely thinking about the merits versus risk cannot be too dangerous.
By overestimating our moral strength as supposedly detached evaluators we are soon to fail, however, since our resistance is already compromised severely in the nod and pause itself. We did not assume we laid down our weapons at that point. Temptation now bonds with our awakened lust on the porch of judgment to contend with our spiritual reason as we weigh the options. With such strong desires stirring us in the wrong direction standing beside an available and luring temptation, though we are a king, it will, far more often than not, give in like a fool. The great conquerors can be brought down easier with a second look than a warring tribe.
When this awakened lust contends with weakened biblical reason to talk it over on the porch, the battle for the mind is raging full bore. We have invited a lion to the porch, an old master at deception, though looking like something else which is deceivingly inviting to the senses — part of us is conniving and urging the temptation on against our own best reason. How will we send temptation away now? Before we know it, faster than we should think we could, we will open the door of our minds completely and give ourselves over to our lust for the enjoyment of this temptation. We may rehearse any of a whole range of regular excuses so as to make some appeasement to our conscience. We do this like the weakest of fools, which soon after will be discomforting or, and if often repeated, sadly and dangerously numbing.
The power we give temptation is mainly in the first welcome, not the second. The first woman and first man should have said, like the last Adam, “Get behind me, Satan!” rather than pausing for even a moment’s consideration of the forbidden fruit which seemed good for food and delightful to the eyes. The serpent wanted them to think about it for awhile. There is a reason we are told, “Flee immorality” and “Reckon yourselves dead to sin and alive to God” and “Do not turn to the right nor to the life: turn your foot from evil.”
A temptation is in fact a temptation because there is desire latent within you. When lust awakens in the easy chair, with one eye open he peeks over the window ledge on to the street where temptation sends its knowing glance. At this moment and not any later, declare in your mind, “I am dead to this in Christ. I do not serve it.” He gives his power to his own to do this. Then go on to the next good thing and don’t even give it another thought. That is the war.