The founding pastor of Reality LA and author of "The Truth About Lies: The Unlikely Role of Temptation in Who You Will Become" recently shared his thoughts on temptation and identified the three most important questions Christians must ask themselves on a daily basis get to the heart of why they are tempted to sin.
During a recent interview with Catalyst host Jason Haynes, Tim Chaddick, who shares the Gospel with over 3,000 men and women on a weekly basis, first explained that in today's culture, the definition of temptation has become far too shallow, preventing individuals from actually getting to the heart of what it is.
"For example, if someone looks at pornography, it's certainly a sin, but what was at the heart attitude? What were the choices made before that moment that actually led to that decision to look at pornography? There could have been an inward attitude of anger at God, or a dissatisfaction with a relational status, and it's out of that anger that justified a person to then look at pornography," he said.
Christians often only talk about what Chaddick calls the capital "F" sins like alcohol abuse, extramarital affairs or pornography. While these sins are usually driven by temptation, the pastor argued that temptation extends to the whole of life - right down to our motives and attitudes.
"Why are we really serving in the church; why are we really wanting that platform in the Christian community?" Chaddick asked in explaining how temptation affects even our best deeds. "It's a character issue - it's not just the one big decision."
He clarified: "Those do matter, but it's always preceded by a thousand and one other decisions that affected that...The small choices matter."
Before we can truly get to the heart of what drives temptation, we must ask ourselves three questions: 1) What am I being tempted by? 2) What lie am I believing? 3) What truth do I need to believe about Jesus and myself that is going to lead me in the right path?
"We constantly have to evaluate our decisions in light of those questions," Chaddick said, explaining that every day, Christians are faced with the temptation to act independently from God.
"All the temptations Jesus experienced in the wilderness in Matthew 4 are not what we would assume," the pastor said. "The first temptation was the devil saying, 'Jesus, turn these stones into bread!' What the devil was really trying to do was get Jesus to act independently of His Father."
He continued, "There's the appeal to independence, to entitlement...that attitude is so pervasive within the church, and, of course within the culture. It's this idea that if God exists, maybe He's more like a vending machine...if I need something from Him, I can go to him, but for the most part, I can live my life and do my thing...What's really going on behind the scenes in our hearts is the idea of 'I'm going to enjoy the gift of life without acknowledging the Giver, I don't need God.'"
This dangerous message quickly becomes normal and ultimately pushes God out of the picture: "It seems so subtle, but it's massive in its implications," Chaddick warned.
According to the Bible's definition of humanity, we are created beings, and thus dependent on a Creator.
"Before I look for my identity in anything I do, I must first recognize the true way to be human and what it means to be a follower of Jesus," Chaddick said. "Once I recognize I'm a dependent creature created by God...and that's the core of my identity..it affects the way I view my job and view my relationships."
When Jesus refused the devil's temptation, He said, in essence, "I don't have to prove anything, I'm the beloved of God" the pastor explained.
"That's what I want people to embrace," he said. "You don't have to prove anything; you're the creation of God. If you're in Christ, you're the beloved of God..that's your identity and should shape your character."
Ultimately, Christians can help battle sin and temptation by acknowledging God in every moment, even in the small things.
"It's a strengthening process," Chaddick said. "I fear in a culture where we only read the headlines, we forget the story behind the headlines. If I want to be the type of husband that would be willing to sacrifice my life for my wife in a moment of need...I need to learn to put her before myself on a daily basis even in the smaller, more mundane aspects of life...slowly but surely...I'm flexing spiritual muscles that strengthen me as a man."
Chaddick emphasized that it's also important for Christians to realize that temptation can ultimately be a tool for spiritual growth.
"Temptation is an invitation to evil, but it can become your opportunity for good, because in the face of a lie, as you choose truth, that's where the character growth happens. You have to learn to flex that muscle and make those choices, and those choices are made when there's an option to do the opposite."
He added, "God always provides a way of escape, and the truth is always a way of escape - it's not only a way out, it's a way up. The more you do that, the more you actually grow."
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