Pastor Arnold beautifully describes and clearly delineates the process and final result of temptation's work in us.
Dante Alighieri, the Italian Florentine poet, who lived from 1264 to 1321, has an allegorical picture of life as a journey in which a man climbed up a winding mountain road. He begins his journey as a young man. After climbing for a short while, a vicious wolf leaped out of the bushes, and attempts to rip him in pieces. According to Dante, this was the wolf of lust, of physical passion, and represented the major temptation of a young person.
As the man climbed higher, reaching "middle life," a huge tiger sprang on him. This was the tiger of pride, representing the great temptation of middle age, which is pride of position, reputation, and social standing.
Finally, as he approached the top, at the time of "old age," a large, hairy-maned lion came bounding after him. The great temptation of later life, money and financial security, is the lion.
As he classified these three great temptations, Dante's point is that there is no level of life where you will be free from temptation.
It has been correctly observed, "You are not tempted because you are evil; you are tempted because you are human." Temptation comes to us all, but we can resist if we know the process.
The seven steps are:
1. The ENTRANCE of the thought. This is not a sin. Everyone has thoughts. Satan works from without to within. In 2 Corinthians 10:3 – 5, Paul spoke of how thoughts in our mind must be dealt with.
2. The ENTERTAINMENT of the thought. This is the first mistake. Some sound advice is, "Kill the serpent, don't stroke it!"
3. The EXAMINATION of the thought. This is when we go over the details. We consider and think about how we would do it. Thomas Secker warned, "To pray against temptation, and yet rush into occasions, is to thrust your fingers into the fire, and then pray they might not get burnt."
4. The ENJOYMENT of the thought. This is the bonding to the thought. An adage from decades ago states it well, "One that stands or walks in slippery places is always exposed to a fall."
5. The EXPERIENCING of the thought. J. William Chapman once said, "Temptation is the tempter looking through the keyhole into the room where you're living; sin is your drawing back the bolt and making it possible for him to enter."
6. The EXCUSING of the sin. This is to pass the blame, without taking responsibility for our choices. A saint of years ago said, "If Satan comes up to my door, I cannot help it; if he lifts the latch, and walks in, I cannot help it. But if I offer him a chair, and begin with him a parley, I put myself altogether in the wrong."
7. The being ENVELOPED by it. Like in an enclosed envelope, we allow ourselves to become under bondage.
Warning: "The devil has no conscience, and the flesh has no sense!"
Dave Arnold, Pastor
Gulf Coast Worship Center
New Port Richey, Florida, 34654