LIVING ON PURPOSE: How do we respond to temptation?
By William F. Holland Jr.
The painful truth about any type of addiction and temptation is there was an introduction and a personal agreement to entertain it. They knew it was wrong but made the conscious decision to accept it and a cognitive desire to continue. I’ve never known anyone who is trying to recover from an addiction to trip and fall face-first into a bag of cocaine and relapse. Do those with a history of substance abuse accidentally run into syringes of heroin or not realize the dangers of taking oxycodone? No. They surrendered their power to resist, bowed down to their new master, and became a slave to the persuasion of darkness.
I’ve never heard of an alcoholic who opened and accidentally consumed hard liquor thinking it was a soft drink. People know exactly what they are consuming. When a person goes into a bar or a liquor store they are definitely aware of why they are there. Individuals do not inadvertently become involved with sin, they willingly choose what they want to do. Whatever the situation and no matter how long it’s been going on, the reason people search for relief is to dull the agony of reality. To become numb to the truth, to drown out the voice of conviction and guilt, to avoid, to run away and hide from God. Some will never face their fears until it is too late and would rather live in emotional and spiritual captivity than allow God to set them free.
The same principle of free will happens when someone becomes extremely obese. Yes, we have compassion just like anyone that is struggling with any type of problem and we cannot imagine the cycle of discouragement they go through every day. We also realize there are individuals who have hormone issues and other health conditions that are not their fault, but there are others that have simply never said no to their cravings. For whatever reasons, food can become a powerful anesthetic that brings temporary relief by exchanging a sense of euphoria for shackles of bondage. A lack of accountability and self-discipline has serious consequences, to say the least. Again, no one has ever forced another person to overeat, they do it because they want to.
I spoke with a woman the other day and she was telling me about taking care of her four grandchildren. The daughter and her husband became addicted to drugs and they divorced. Not long after this, the daughter brought her children to stay with this woman and her husband and they have not seen her since. This was four years ago. These grandparents have full custody but are struggling to raise these beautiful kids because they are on a limited income. Sadly, there are many parents that have abandoned their little ones, and far too often addiction and incarceration are a part of the equation. It’s a heartbreaking scenario and we wonder how anyone could love some type of desire more than their own children or anything else. It’s actually the same answer that applies to every decision we all make every moment. The free will to choose. When Sinatra sang, “I did it my way” he was making a rebellious declaration for most of the entire human race. It’s the arrogant and aggressive proclamation about not caring what God says about sin, I live by my own rules.
Most of us know of someone that is entangled in some type of habit, craving, fixation, weakness, compulsion, or dependency. These behaviors are the result of how individuals attempt to deal with whatever is seemingly overwhelming them. We realize we humans are vulnerable to urges, but we always have the choice to resist or accept. It’s not how many times we are tempted, it’s how determined we are to stand against it. Every idea, thought, and suggestion will receive one of two reactions, yes or no. The enemy of our soul has been given the opportunity to persuade us into making destructive decisions, but with God’s strength, we can learn how to control our emotional impulses which is the way God intended. If we refuse to develop the perseverance to break free from our destructive cycles, our carnality will control us and cause even more misery and disappointment. Though we can try to help others become victorious, each person must realize that trusting God is the key that can open their own prison doors. Those who will not help themselves cannot be forced to change.
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