Christian Living

New-Fangled or Old-Fashioned Temptations?

We love to look at what is new. What’s the newest technology? What are the latest features that come standard on a car? What’s the newest popular hairstyle or brand of jeans? Our eyes are constantly scanning what is new and fresh.

We also like to know what it is new when it comes to the spiritual life. What’s Max Lucado’s newest book? What is the latest sermon series from Andy Stanley? Did you notice the new single from Steven Curtis Chapman? We again look for the newest, the brightest. We look for fresh revelations from God, and we watch out for the latest temptations.

I was watching a movie last night that reminded of an earlier episode in the saga. At one point, a dark and sinister enemy threatens to appear and derail the quest of our heroes. One of these heroes go so far to ask, “What is this new devilry?” What he didn’t realize was that this was not some new concoction of an evil mind. It didn’t have the latest armor and weaponry. In fact, it was what another character called, “a demon of the ancient world.”

You see, so often we are looking for the latest scheme, the newest danger to be whipped up against our cause of living for Christ. In doing so we can forget about and make ourselves vulnerable to age-old temptations.

Are those temptations less potent or effective because they are old? Are they easy to detect and deter because they have been around for so long? It’s usually the opposite on both counts. The reason the old temptations are still around is because they are actually very effective. And because we are so eager to see the new, even though we know the old temptations are around and we know they come at us, we are caught unaware and unprepared.

What should you always be looking out for because it is an old trick and already at work, tempting you each and every day? We should be on the lookout for three basic building blocks of temptation. John tells us about these in his first epistle:

For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. (1 John 2:16 NKJV).

Preachers and teachers often refer to these in an effort to narrow down the basic draws of sin. Let’s quickly explain each one.

  1. The Lust of the Flesh. This is the temptation to have, to obtain, to hold on to what is physical. It is a satisfaction of the here and now, of addictions and appetites.
  2. The Lust of the Eyes. This is, simply the desire to see, to behold. You don’t have to touch it, you just want to see it. It is greed and covetousness, jealousies, and the longing for what you do not or cannot have.
  3. The Pride of Life. Do you struggle with making a name for yourself, receiving recognition or being successful? Then this is the root of your problem. It is seeking position and power.

The scholars who put together the Amplified version put it this way:

…the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things]…

Every sin struggle can be narrowed down to one of these basic building blocks of temptation. Now you know what they are. Be aware of them. Find them and evict them from your dreams, desires and motives.