Temptation ain’t coercion. If you’re tempted it’s because there was a desire inside you for it in the first place.


Recently I shared about the enemy within, and how dangerous it is to live in denial.
It’s a weak, disadvantaged position to deny and confuse what temptation really is, and approach it as though we’re helplessly forced into something we want no part of… Instead of masterfully commanding our lives like the rulers of the Earth we are born to be.
So, to be clear:
Tempt: To entice to do wrong by promise of pleasure or gain.

Coerce: To restrain or dominate by force.

I hate avocado.  A thousand perfect avocados won’t tempt me.  I could be coerced to eat one.  And I’d still hate avocados.
I do love chocolate.  The perfect chocolate soufflé will be darn tempting.  I’d have to be coerced not to eat it.  My family history of diabetes does indeed cause me to restrain myself.

We can only be tempted by what we already want.  Knowing something is bad for you doesn’t mean your heart won’t desire it.  Which isn’t a huge deal when it comes to food preference.

But there are things in our lives that are a very big deal, that can kill us if we don’t master them.  We can’t master anything if we don’t know what we’re dealing with.

It’s dangerous to confuse temptation for coercion.

Temptation is attractive, pulling you toward something you want.  Coercion is combative, forcing you to do something against your will.  These are two completely different challenges with different solutions: One within you, the other without.

Temptation is solved by finding and fixing whatever’s broken inside that makes us want what isn’t good for us.  Coercion is solved by identifying the threat and either staying the heck away from it or fighting back.

It’s dangerous to think that because your mind knows something your heart wants is wrong, you don’t really want it.  You cannot be forced to desire or do something you actually want to do: You are willing and complicit.

Responding to that in confusion is more dangerous than the external attacks you face, where you really do have to fight back.  Confused, you’ll respond with a losing strategy that weakens you at the same time it strengthens your wrongful desire.

Hot mess.

That’s what happens when you just face the temptation and resist it, or escape, running in the opposite direction without dealing with the root problem:  Why you want something bad for you.  Ultimately, resisting or avoiding just makes the problem worse.

Only as upright as your circumstances, you’ll still want it, but now you’re playing games to sidestep landmines.

That is the losing game of avoiding temptation: I just won’t go near such-and-such, won’t buy blah-blah-blah, won’t do blankety-blank… You can’t win because the problem is not it.  It’s you.  Wanting it.  And playing games with it can actually deepen its hold over you.

No one wants to hurt themselves.

The reality is, if something is broken inside of you, that brokenness will war with the truth like a sinister fun-house mirror, presenting reality as a fantasy.

That’s why you’ll believe temptation won’t really hurt you.

  • No overweight person wants to gain weight.  Brokenness will show you weight gain as a self-indulgent, orgasmic and sumptuous gift of nourishment.
  • No married person wants to get a divorce.  Brokenness will show you divorce as a once-in-a-lifetime secret sexual fantasy that will fuel desire for your spouse.
  • No drug abuser wants to overdose.  Brokenness will show you overdosing as a sweetly spiraling surrender into bliss.
  • No violent person wants to end up in the hospital.  Brokenness will show you fatal injury as righteous revenge exacted by a powerfully courageous warrior.

I don’t know about you, but I’ma need every which-kind of anyway broken anything up out of my system.  As of last year.

Because there is no little bit, no just once, not a big deal with what’s bad for you.

Bad is a raging and ravenous animal that is insatiable and violent, constantly calculating ways to eat you alive… And get you to serve up your friends and loved ones as seconds.

Partnering with that is a really.

Really.

Really.

Bad idea.

The tricky part is if we knew where these broken parts were and how to heal them, we’d have done it already.

So let’s go:

  1. Clear the clutter out of the way: Fast.
  2. Ask for help: Pray.

If there were a rattle in your car you couldn’t identify, you wouldn’t park it in the driveway and watch a show about car repair.  At some point you gotta get under the hood.  You clear it out, and take it to a mechanic to identify the problem and make the necessary repairs.

The spiritual version of parking the car and watching a do-it-yourself show is religiously going to church without fasting and praying constantly.

Fasting isn’t some strange and dangerous celebrity diet.  It’s cleansing, offering and sacrifice.  Our minds and bodies are our own, we can’t forget that and fail to take control over ourselves.  Why shouldn’t we offer up the vessel for our spirit when we need work done?  Choose something, anything whether it’s a habit, food, drink, activity, or even a person, and cut it out until your healing comes.

Praying isn’t some pious religious ritual set aside for priests and fanatics when they’re in quiet time with their eyes closed in temple or church.  We were born to pray, and can every moment.  At some point we get coerced into thinking prayer, our communication with the Creator, isn’t the most valuable part of our makeup.  Everyone hears from God, everyone can talk to Him.  So ask Him to find your brokenness and heal it.  Every single day. Multiple times a day.

We can’t afford to confuse temptation for coercion.  If you know you want things that are bad for you, fast and pray until you’re healed.

There’s far more to life than exhaustion in battle with yourself over wars that have already been won.

Free yourself.

“‘Rather, each person is being tempted whenever he is being dragged off and enticed by the bait of his own desire. 15 Then, having conceived, the desire gives birth to sin; and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death. 16 Don’t delude yourselves, my dear brothers.'”

We often view temptation as an external influence that ‘happens upon us.’ In truth temptation is an outward manifestation of a pre-existing desire already INSIDE of us. Our first instinct is to remove whatever it is that is tempting us from our environment. This is no different than watering the leaves to make a plant grow instead of the roots. Some of the water may trickle down the stem and make it into the ground but it is not the most effective way to achieve the goal. The real battle with all temptation takes place inside of us. We must examine the want for whatever it is that tempts us and start from there.

Eliminating objects of temptation from our environment is a means but the end is when we want what God has in store for us more than ANYTHING.

If we have a want for something that is greater than what God has in store for us it is that very want that will kill our walk every time.

We must continue to hold our desires up to what God wants for us and see where our heart truly stands.

We will all be tempted but we do not have to fall.

We can choose to stand by what God wants for us over what we want.

It’s all about faith…”-Ebenezer Quaye

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2 Replies to “Temptation ain’t coercion. If you’re tempted it’s because there was a desire inside you for it in the first place.”

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