James, Jesus’ half-brother, writes a letter to the followers of Jesus that is designed to help them practically live out their faith. Near the beginning, he writes something that caught me off guard when I read it recently. He writes
“When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. (James 1:13-14 – NIV 2011)”
Within its context, he reminds us not to blame God for temptation. What also caught my attention is what he doesn’t say. There is no finger-pointing at the devil or his demons for the temptation we feel. His pen does not tell of the evil people surrounding us that drag us down with their poor choices. While both have some Biblical truth, he says that temptation results from our own evil desires.
The greatest battle most of us will fight is the war within ourselves. The attack from the desires that burn inside us are far greater than the enemy outside of us. Lust, pride, anger, doubt, bitterness, envy, and a host of other ungodly passions can burn within us. Most of these are unknown to the people around us. They are private battles fought in the recesses of the heart and mind.
I wish there were some easy remedies for the warfare of the soul. If only there were a simple prayer to offer, a three-step program or accountability app that could make the struggle go away, then the journey of faith would not be so difficult. All those things can help depending on your issue, but there are no quick, easy solutions.
I don’t know what is tempting you, but I know that the issues arise from your soul. Those evil desires locked inside your heart that no other person knows. As it has been said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”
The good news is that the first step toward recovery is admitting that you have a problem.