You are not a horrible mother because you are tempted to shout at your kids out of impatience or anger.
You are not guilty because you are tempted to doubt.
You are not evil because you are tempted to look at unclean things.
You are tempted because …
These temptations come because we have a sinful human nature. It is because of the fall (Genesis 3) that we all have these sinful desires which tempt us to sin.
“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT).
But the intention is that we should rule over these sinful desires and not that they should rule over us! (Genesis 4:7.) We should not give in when we are tempted to irritation, anger, doubt etc., but we should overcome them. It is not sin to be tempted, but if we give in to the temptation, then we sin.
When, for example, you feel impatient and you are tempted to shout at your kids, you have not sinned yet! A temptation always comes as a thought or a feeling that you want to act on. But you know it is wrong to be impatient, and you hate that feeling of impatience. And even though you feel impatient, you don’t act on it and don’t start shouting at your kids and saying harsh words to them. Then you are overcoming.
A temptation to-do list:
There are two things that are important to do when you are tempted.
The first one is to use God’s word as a weapon against the devil, who wants you to give in to the temptation. “You will feel much better if you shout,” he tells you. Or “They deserve it.” In the garden of Eden he said to Eve: “Did God really say …?” and he got her to doubt God’s commands. But when Jesus, our example and leader, was tempted in the wilderness, He said: “Go away, Satan, because it’s written …” And He used the word of God to send the devil away.
If you want to have a word of God ready to help you in temptation, you need to prepare yourself before you come into temptation. You need to know God’s word. In Ps.119:11 (ESV) it says: “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Read God’s word and keep it in your heart and thoughts so that you have it ready to use when you need it!
The second important thing to do when you are tempted, is to go to God for help. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16.) Your time of need is when you are tempted. Then you can go to the throne of grace and pray for help to overcome the temptation. And that help isn’t that the temptation will go away and you no longer feel impatient, but that you get the power to not give in until the temptation is fully overcome.
Learning from temptation
“I am writing this to you, my children, so that you will not sin; but if anyone does sin, we have someone who pleads with the Father on our behalf — Jesus Christ, the righteous one.” 1 John 2:1 (GNB).
If you do fall in sin, then you can ask for forgiveness and you will be forgiven. The throne of grace is also for that. But the intention is not that you should fall in sin again and again. Remember, you should rule over sin! But if you do fall in sin, you must learn from your mistakes, and do it better next time. You must prepare yourself and have God’s word ready in your heart before you are tempted, then you can be sure you will overcome the next time!
It may take time until you fully overcome. When you admit the truth about yourself – for example, that you so easily get impatient or angry – and you take a firm decision to overcome that, it doesn’t mean that you will just at once stop being tempted to it. You will still be tempted, and you may even fall again before you overcome. But if you continue to seek help in God’s Word and at the throne of grace, and believe what God promises in His Word, then you will overcome the sin you are tempted to.
And, bit by bit, you will be changed and renewed, and where impatience and anger used to be a part of your nature, patience and goodness will grow and replace it. That is the great grace that we have in Christ Jesus.