Temptation can wreak havoc on our souls, but when it is overcome, we are led to salvation:
Blessed is the man who perseveres in temptation, for when he has been proved he will receive the crown of life that he promised to those who love him. -James 1:12, NAB
This verse alone says more than I could in volumes written about temptation. It gives us the reason and the purpose to overcome the temptation that fills our lives.
Temptation permeates throughout society. Television is filled with graphic images. Billboards bombard us with lustful advertisements. Mainstream thought teaches us to pursue success and wealth above all else. Everywhere we turn, temptation abounds.
Yet the most difficult temptations to overcome are within the darkness of our own hearts. Our own thoughts and desires for power, money, sex, and other impurities have a greater impact than anything the world can throw at us. Overcoming temptation, then, is no easy feat.
Winning the constant battles against temptation requires perseverance, and we can find the strength to persevere in St. James’s words today. Through our hope and faith in Christ, through the power of the cross, we know that these battles fought and won are never in vain.
We may not see an immediate impact from overcoming temptation. In fact, society will tell us that we’re actually missing out on the joys of life. But there is a greater joy than this world can ever offer, and we can only find that joy by following Christ.
Do not let yourself be overcome by temptation. The short-term satisfaction will only lead to long-term pain. Instead, hold tightly to your purity, guarding against temptation with every breath, and the crown of life will await you.