One of the most clever ploys of the enemy is blurring the lines between temptation and transgression.
Let me set up a scenario. Say you have had an issue with lust. You’re in the grocery store picking up a few things. You walk past the magazine rack. Inadvertently, a certain magazine cover catches your eye, and there staring back at you is one of the most beautiful bikini-clad ladies, or speedo-clad men, you have ever beheld. Your eyes linger. You feel that all-too-familiar stir within you as admiration quickly begins to turn to lust. You want to pick up the magazine and see more, your mind wants to go racing to other images in your memory banks, or you want to go home and get online to find some ‘old haunts’. But what you choose to do is lift it up to Jesus and ask Him to take it away. You turn your eyes from the magazine cover, walk a little faster down the aisle, block out past images, douse the budding flames of fantasy, and vow to definitely not turn on the computer when you get home.
Yet you come away from this situation feeling dirty, wicked, sinful. Why? You did everything that you could have done to walk away from the temptation. You had no control over what crossed your field of vision, and that initial lingering gaze was more automatic response than conscious choice. Realistically, you reacted well.
But here’s the deal: Satan is very adept at convincing us that temptation is equivalent to transgression. Especially when it comes to things we’ve struggled with in the past. He has drawn more people back into sin patterns with this tactic than we’d care to count. He leverages labels that we have assigned ourselves – pornography addict, drugee, alcoholic, relationally dysfunctional, sexually deviant, uncontrollably angry – and an in-the-moment urge toward that habit or lifestyle suddenly becomes a reason to say “this is the way I am.”
But this is not the way you are. Paul says you are “beloved of God, called to be saints” (Romans 1:7). Peter says you are a “His own special people” (1 Peter 2:9). And John says whoever “is born of God overcomes the world” (1 John 5:4). You are not destined to be defined by your weaknesses. You are destined to be “more than conquerers through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
From freedom’s perspective – being tempted is never the same as transgressing. The determining factor regarding victory is what you do with the temptation, not that you were tempted in the first place! Don’t let the lure become the lie that reinforces the label. Stand in His truth, and live free!