All Things for Good: Temptations
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
When a saint lies under the bruising of temptations, Christ prays, and God the Father pities. When Satan puts the soul into a fever, God comes with a cordial.
– Thomas Watson
In Thomas Watson’s book, All Things for Good, he discusses how the best things work for good for the godly. He then turns his attention to the “worst things” and how they work for good for the godly as well. Last month we considered how our afflictions work for good. This month we’ll consider temptations.
How can temptations possibly bring about good? Maybe we ask this question because we are so used to giving into temptation and experiencing the consequences of the resulting sin that we can’t see how any good can come out of that for anyone. But what about temptation itself? Satan from the beginning has tempted the people of God. He probes for weaknesses and designs temptations to fit the weakness. He bides his time and determines when a temptation is most likely to accomplish its goal. He waits until Christ is hungry to tempt him to turn stones into bread, he waits until we are in a weakened state, when we are not being particularly watchful or prayerful, and then springs his trap. How can having such an enemy who treats us in this way be for our good? Watson lists eight ways – here they are with some explanatory thoughts of my own:
1. Temptation sends the soul to prayer. The regular presence of temptation to sin makes us realize how desperately we need the LORD’s help to resist temptation.
2. Temptation causes us to fight temptation. Seeing how much the devil hates us makes us want to fight back.
3. Temptation keeps us from puffing up with pride. Seeing how easily we give in to temptation and how many ways are available for the devil to tempt us keeps us from thinking too highly of ourselves. As Watson says, “Better is the temptation which humbles me – than that duty which makes me proud.”
4. Temptation is the means God uses to test our faith, even to strengthen it – Our faith is something which needs to be getting stronger and this is one of the primary ways the LORD does this.
5. Temptation allows us to help others who are tempted, because we understand what it is like to be tempted. Who wants others to suffer under temptation? As Christians, we pray for and encourage each other in our fight against the world, the flesh and the devil.
6. Temptation stirs up the fatherly compassion of God. He looks at us in our distress and He cares.
7. Temptation makes us long for heaven. We look forward to the time when we are tempted no more and are with the LORD and are without sin.
8. Temptation causes Christ to bring His power to bear on our situation. As the Scripture says, “Since he himself has gone through suffering and temptation, he is able to help us when we are being tempted.” Christ is our help! Temptations bring Christ to the rescue.
As we seek to live godly Christian lives, remember that all of Satan’s plans are ultimately turned against Him. This is true of temptations. He desires to destroy you by leading you into sin. But even his hatred is turned into good by our heavenly Father as He uses those temptations to draw us to Himself. When you are tempted, cry out to the LORD, fight hard, pray, and remember that the LORD works all things together for good for the Christian, even the nasty things like temptation. Praise the LORD!