The other day, I talked about the three excuses people give for giving in to temptation, and the one verse that refutes all three — 1 Corinthians 10:13. I then pointed out that verse 14 tells us that the fundamental issue is idolatry. So the solution to temptation is to “flee idolatry” and worship the one true God. Let’s talk a little more about how idolatry and temptation are related.
An idol is something that we submit to, above God, because we think it can be an avenue to our satisfaction and the solution to our problems. It’s something we end up bowing down to in a form of worship, in hopes that it will bring us something that we crave and value above loving God and loving others. For example, bowing down to people, rather than God, in order to receive approval or acceptance (which we crave and value to a sinful degree — lust), in place of loving God and loving others, is an example of idolatry. Bowing down to money, rather than God, in order to receive comfort or status (which we lust after), in place of loving God and loving others, is another example of idolatry.
Temptation happens when an opportunity is presented that entices you to sin against God in order to obtain an object of lust. James 1:14 says that “each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires.” If I see some roadkill in the middle of the road, I am not tempted to go eat it, because I have absolutely no desire to eat roadkill! I’m only tempted by things that I desire. And if I desire something so much that I value it more than I value loving and obeying Christ, then I’ve turned that desire into lust, and that thing I desire is now something I am willing to sin in order to get. So how do you avoid temptation? “Flee idolatry” (1 Cor. 10:14). Ask God to place the right desires in your heart (Ps. 37:4), so that you value and treasure God and His ways more than your own desires and preferences. The less idols you have, the less you are willing to sin to get what you want, the less you will be tempted.
virtus et honos