Withstanding severe temptation
What can a person do when he or she is faced with overwhelming temptation? Sometimes sheer willpower can get a person by. But with willpower, the liability to be tempted remains, and temptation may return, like pounding waves, until one's moral resolve collapses.
Yet we don't have to feel helpless before temptation, no matter how aggressive. When we take a stand for good, we can do so with the consciousness that God is with us, strengthening and supporting us. We can actually demonstrate divine power in our lives.
God is as close as our thought. We can turn to Him instantly when temptation engulfs us. "God," the Bible assures us, "is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." n1
n1 Psalms 46:1.
A young man found this to be true in his struggle with a compulsive urge to buy pornographic material. He knew pornography only weakened sexual self-control and ran counter to everything the Bible teaches about man's spiritual possibilities. Yet often he would give in, buy a magazine, and then go through tremendous guilt.
At this point it would be nice to say that the young man prayed and was instantly freed from his temptation. In his case, however, gaining freedom took a great struggle. He began by turning to God. "Father God," he earnestly prayed, "help me be pure. I know You are with me in my efforts to have this self-control."
He stayed close to the Bible. And in the writings of Mary Baker Eddy n2 he read, "If man is not victorious over the passions, they crush out happiness, health, and manhood." His experience with pornography was surely proving this. But the next line reassured him, "Here Christian Science is the sovereign panacea, giving strength to the weakness of mortal mind, -- strength from the immortal and omnipotent Mind, -- and lifting humanity above itself into purer desires, even into spiritual power and good-will to man." n3
n2 Mrs. Eddy is the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science;
n3 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,m p. 407;
Gradually the young man proved this. He found that divine Mind is indeed "a very present help" in times of temptation. When assailed by the desire to buy pornography, he prayed for that Mind to be in him "which was also in Christ Jesus." n4 He took refuge in the realization that God is the only Mind and that this Mind is pure, good, and expresses perfect self-government. He denied there could be a carnal mind with fixations and sexual obsessions. And with much mental clambering, some backsliding, and the power of God's love, he won his freedom.
n4 Philippians 2:5.
There's not one of us who can't do the same with our own temptations, whether they're big or small. If you've been struggling with some aggressive temptation , take comfort! It's not just you against the aggression of worldliness. We wouldn't be able, or even want, to resist the smallest temptation if God's goodness weren't already at work in our hearts, telling us right from wrong and lifting us higher.
By consciously aligning with God our desire to do right, we destroy fear of temptation, because we realize that divine Mind's infinite power is at hand, and is ours,m to strengthen us. And if, while learning of God's power, we sometimes give in, we needn't wallow in self-condemnation. Losing a battle doesn't mean we've lost the war. We can instead turn even more fervently to God, who always forgives the truly repentant heart.
As we persevere with God, His healing presence begins to regenerate us and remove the liability to do wrong or want to do wrong. We may face many temptations in our lives, but as God's power reforms us, we will find that less in us responds to evil. Temptations that once plagued us begin to disappear, and we express more of our God- given dominion.
It's our right to have this freedom. We don't have to give in to temptation. God ism with us.