There are two times when we tend to think temptation is behind us and we are out of danger, according to Puritan writer John Owen. In both cases, we’re usually wrong.
The first is immediately after we have failed the test and have committed sin. In that moment of shame and guilt, we can’t imagine ever going down that same road again.
The second is immediately after a serious crisis that leaves us feeling like we are changed people.
Have you experienced either?
How did you fare after the fact?
Those temptations tend to keep coming back, don’t they?
Those experiences tend not to be lasting.
Jesus himself said that “temptations to sin are sure to come” in Luke 17:1. It is rare that they leave us suddenly, totally, and permanently.
The more frequent transformation for Christians is that temptations wane as we mature out of them. God works in us to help us grow and acquire new tastes—a taste for holiness that makes the taste of sin less satisfying and the aftertaste more bitter. Our cravings for wrong subside as our appetite for God increases day by day.
I say this to remind us—transformation is a marathon, not a sprint. God seldom chooses to remove that piercing thorn in our flesh, but he always promises that his grace is sufficient in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). If you’re discouraged that you’re still tempted—don’t be. God isn’t done with you yet!