Why are we tempted? Because when we have encountered God as the Lord of our lives the Spirit drives us to a place where we know the difference between our own desires and the will of God. Where we know, as Archbishop William Temple wrote: The worst things that happen do not happen because a few people are monstrously wicked, but because most people are like us.
At stake are the people of God and the creation of God. The temptations we face decide whether we will fill the stomachs of the hungry, how we will treat the strangers and the sojourners in our midst, whether the addicted will be rehabilitated, if the imprisoned will be visited and set free, whether the beauty and purity of God’s waters, skies, and earth will be restored, the lonely, sick and dying loved and cared for.
When we live with God at a deep spiritual level we are sensitive to God’s presence in every area of our lives. We know God’s claim not just our patterns of interaction with those we love but on our participation in the broader world, not just how we treat our friends but how we treat our enemies, not just whether we make healthy choices but if what we choose is healthy for all people. We measure our lives by the standards of God’s kingdom and not by those of the culture we live in.
These struggles emerge from our meaningful encounters with God in Jesus Christ. When we are tempted, we grow morally and spiritually. If we experience that inner tension of temptation and resist the call of the evil one we are brought into the fullness of God’s love and grace.