Over the years, I have noticed two types of fellow Christians with opposing approaches on dealing with temptation. Both could be part of the same fellowship, in the same local church or missionary organisation. But why can’t they agree?
Let me briefly explain their stands below-
Side A. “God says Flee”
These Christians point out that temptation is not something to trifle or play around with. They rightly say that the Lord Jesus died for these very things that caused them to sin, and rather than facing the choice to sin, they choose to escape the object or situation of temptation, sometimes in “radical fashion“.
Favorite verses : 1 Cor 10:12-13, Matt 5:29-30 , Eph 5:3 , Gen 39:2-12, 1 Cor 6:8, 2 Tim 2:22
Life-theme: Joseph running and escaping Pharoah’s wife’s wrong advances. (Gen 39:1-20)
Pet peeve against Side B: “Pride goes before a fall, have you not heard?”
Side B. “Stand and fight”
These Christians think that temptation is really unavoidable in our daily lives. While they too hate sin and try to avoid temptation, they don’t really understand “Side A”. They feel too many people are fighting the devil with their rules, and not with the abundance of God’s grace, depending on Holy Spirit. They suggest that facing and enduring temptations is God’s way of making the Christ-follower grow to be more mature in a world that needs Christians out there!
Favorite verses : Matt 4:8-11, 1 Cor 10:12-13 (!), James 1:12, Eph 6:11-18.
Life-theme: Jesus’ fighting off the Devil’s temptations (Matt 4:1-11).
Pet peeve against Side A: “Growth won’t come by running away from conflict. Grow up buddy!”
I am unable, on my own, to arrive at a definite conclusion as to which side makes more sense. Since I am fascinated by opposing convictions and at the way they lob theology-grenades at each other, today’s blog only poses a few questions to either side.
Questions to Side A
1. If your temptation is to be angry at someone, are you suggesting that we don’t meet that person? Would we rather not lock up ourselves in a monastery? Did not Jesus always step into problems?
2. Sin is a heart issue. The “flee approach” seems to be based on your strength. Where is the heart-change? Did not Jesus talk about dealing with the heart?
3. In today’s world, things like sexual temptation is on the rise. Is not such fleeing going to impede our reach to a perverse world who needs Jesus? Is this not really escapism?
Questions to Side B
1. If Scripture teaches us to flee temptation, who are we to suggest we should stand and fight? Is not the “flee” command present across the Bible? Could it be that your approach is based in your own strength?
2. About the “whatever causes you to sin, throw it away” teaching (Matt 5:29-30), do you think Jesus would not practice what He preached? I am certain He fled temptation on many occasions- can Jesus be a hypocrite?
3. Do you really believe that God wants us on mission while it compromises our purity? Mission never happens at the cost of our testimony. Did Jesus do that? Should we not rather admit that we are weak and He is strong?
These are my questions. Do you have answers?
Which side are you on? Do you have answers to either side? To both sides?
Please write in so we can learn God’s truths together!