“My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into different kinds of temptations, knowing that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have its perfect work, so that you may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing”, Jam.1:2-4

A friend from South Africa wrote something to me yesterday, which touched me in a special way. In writing to me in response to a short topic about the "the annihilating Light of God", he added: “May many be blessed by this exposure of our hearts and temptation”. And, thinking a bit about this, I thought today that, if I could change his words a bit, it would be a precise expression of what is going on in my heart today to write about. If I could say “the exposure of our hearts in, because or through temptations”, I would lay out the whole of the message that has been burning in my inside from a while back and for which I could hardly find the English words to make myself understood. So easy to tell, yet it just shows how much we need each other, even in writing something we could believe would not be that useful at all. Little words may bring a lot to our hearts when these hearts are found in the strain towards holiness and growing in grace through it. We easily think to do something great and seldom believe a little phrase as this one will warm the heart of someone else who is in touch with God.

There is a monster inside every sinner which tries very hard to do things the perfect way to keep itself alive, untouched, unhindered and hidden inside its "holy" cave. Yet, Jesus said, “Clean the inside first and so will the outside be clean also – how can you, being bad, bring forth such good things?”

People easily charge against holiness because they say they do not wish to be Pharisees – and this is but one of the excuses that monster uses to maintain itself breeding and still alive. The words of Jesus, however, which say “If you do not EXCEED the Pharisees in your kind of righteousness, you will in no way come into the Kingdom of God” means, not only that we must be able to do more, but and above all, we must be able to do better in quality. These so-called preachers have learned to teach to do less than Pharisees and never to exceed them in any way. They even use the words of Jesus against Pharisees to uphold their hellish doctrines all over the world.

I firmly believe that, temptations serve a purpose of exposing that hidden monster to the full light of God. The “Old man” dies by light and exposure; it is blind because it has been living in the dark since birth or since sinning was done at first; and refuses to come out because its father, the devil, has been enticing it to stay away from exposure because it is humbling and bad to self. I believe, also, not all temptations come by the devil’s workings in the heart of man. All of them, however, come from the heart of man. I believe the work of the Holy Spirit may lead one into temptations as well, since it exposes sin to the awareness and senses of our minds and hearts. But we are tempted because of the hearts we may have, which God exposes and which leads us into temptations through the awareness of sin and sinning. This is where one is to endure it and not resist it, since we may come to find ourselves resisting the Holy Spirit of God in some way. Just think of how many a time the desert exposed the Israelites’ complaining, stubborn heart and, instead of exposing and seeing it that way, they rather fell by defending it and making use of it.

We are tempted only if it need be, just as Peter wrote unto us: “yet a little while, if need be, grieving in manifold temptations”, 1Pet.1:6. It shows temptations are needed if and when “this body of death” (as Paul said) is still hidden in the inside of us because it tries very hard to carry out things the perfect way to avoid exposure of any kind at any cost. It only sends its sons to war and defeat so it may seem to be dead.  Temptation will surely hinder the monster to do things the perfect way and is an annoying hindrance to it and to its ways. This is why this monster always thinks highly of himself. This is why, also, many people eagerly pray God will free them from being tempted, since self’s life and lifestyle is endangered. After that old man is dead, temptation will also be there, but will pass by unfelt. This is why legalism is rather a hideout for self.  Self can even pray with better words and emotion than saints do. But, we are heard above by what we are able to be and not by what we are able to say. God said to Job’s friends, “My servant Job I will hear”. He did not say He would hear the words of Job, but him.

When God told Abraham “walk thou before Me and be perfect”, the Lord did not mean he should do things the perfect way, but that he should rather be perfect inside so the works of holiness and faith would rather become unaware, flowing and following, natural to him and made to be simple and naturally active. It should become his nature and not his second nature. Temptation leads us to expose what may lead all of us to temptation or sin still. If we throw water somewhere, we easily mark what is waterproof and what is not. God can make all of us sin-proof and temptation shows us what is not sin-proof yet by revealing the unwillingness which is mainly responsible for the fear to be thought bad of, and which is what keeps and hinders us from becoming free of sin forever the easy way. Temptation is there to be endured and not resisted so we may be free to see something else and hold on to Someone else, beyond temptations. “Blessed is the man who endures temptation, because having been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him”, Jam.1:12. “Love Him” is put here in contrast with resisting sin, stating it is what will keep us from sinning. It just means the empty house has been filled with something great and, therefore, the demon with its seven friends will not find that house empty to move in once it comes, for it will surely come.

Temptation has that power to kill whoever yields unto it in some way, and the power which God Himself granted unto it, and whoever is tempted may entangle himself in the ways of fighting sin off due to the fear to die, especially when temptation means only to lead one to hold on to God by exposure of sin or sinful self and the death that is already within, and nothing more than that. This is why James said, “if one lacks wisdom, let him ask God”. He said that, relating wisdom to the verse we are using as text above: “My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into different kinds of temptations, knowing that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have its perfect work, so that you may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing… but, if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God”, Jam.1:2-5. The preachers who eagerly protect self from dying, state this means “to get wisdom to be able to preach to everyone else besides them”.

Many people do not come to understand why they are tempted with the things which, seemingly, they are unable to resist if tempted. For that reason they are advised to gain wisdom from God Himself, and not from books and people, so they will be prevented from falling back and away from God by the lack of understanding. Temptation means to lead all of us to stay still, quiet and confiding in and before God. There is a snake in Africa that eats frogs. But, it will only spot the frogs it eats, if they move or become scared enough to make a movement when that snake is passing by. That snake sees movement alone. All frogs which are strong and wise enough to stay very quiet, escape from being eaten. “For so says the Lord Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel: in returning and rest you shall be saved; and in quietness and hope shall be your strength. And you were not willing”, Is.30:15. “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the service of righteousness shall be quietness”, Is.32:17.

Temptations are there to teach us to stay quiet and still the right way (for there is a wrong kind of imposed quietness), confiding and actively exposed before God all the time at all times. May you find the wisdom to know it so, or you will become a murmuring fool, an outcast or a sinner all the way back, again and again. Temptations should make us somewhat glad we are known of God. We read in the Lords prayer God leads us into temptation and in James we read people may even start believing it is God who tempts them. If we are unable and unfit to “count it all joy”, especially when we hate sin and sinfulness which turns it even harder to get it accomplishing that way, we will be found guilty of not “letting patience have its perfect work” in all of us. Besides, we should, also, be able to respect and uphold God’s ways and works in others by never feeling sorry for such people who are becoming free of sinful self all the way. Those we should be able to rather encourage and even exhort to stay truthful to the holiness workings such may have asked from God in previous times of prayer and which they are receiving that way. "...confirming the souls of the disciples, calling on them to continue in the faith and that through much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom of God", Act 14:22. Amen.

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José Mateus