Temptation is a very powerful influence on us all. Every day we are bombarded with temptations to do things we know are wrong. In the recent riots in London a 23 year old student was walking past a supermarket in Brixton which was being looted. He succumbed to temptation and took bottles of water worth £3.50. When he realised a policeman had seen him do it he threw the water away and tried to escape. He was caught and arrested and immediately admitted what he had done. He was of previous good character, pleaded guilty and expressed genuine remorse for what he had done. He and his family were shocked when the District Judge sentenced him to 6 months in prison.
The student’s barrister explained that her client had not been involved with the looters who originally broke into the supermarket. She described how he succumbed to temptation and now deeply regretted it, “My client is incredibly ashamed. It was opportunistic. He was walking past. He saw the store was unsecure and got caught got up in the moment.” On hearing of the sentence one person commented, “A lot of people would take the opportunity to take something if they thought they would get away with it.”
The Bible tells us how Adam and Eve succumbed to temptation in Eden at the beginning of history. God had provided them with an abundance of good things. Every day they enjoyed warm fellowship with God. However, when Satan tempted them to disobey God, and to eat the forbidden fruit, they rebelled against God. They, too, bitterly regretted what they had done. The consequences of their actions have affected every person born into the world. From that moment on all of us share in their fallen nature.
Temptations come suddenly. The student did not set out that night intending to steal but, when the opportunity presented itself, he did steal. In the moment of temptation we give no thought to the consequences of our actions. Giving in to temptation is always destructive, which is why we need help to resist temptation. We can find that help in Jesus Christ, who was tempted in every way as we, but who did not sin. If we ask him, he will give us strength to resist temptation. On the cross he also suffered the punishment our sins deserve so that through him we might find forgiveness and begin a new life.