By Hubert Eke
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was 39 years old when he was executed by the Nazis. Bonhoeffer’s works on spirituality are still widely read today, and The Cost of Discipleship, Lift Together, Ethics, and
Letters and Papers from Prison are considered classics. But the best, in my opinion, is a small booklet fewer than fifty pages long titled, Temptation.
In this brief treatise, Bonhoeffer left us with the single most descriptive explanation of temptation anywhere outside the Bible. Read this!
In our members there is a slumbering inclination towards desire which is both sudden and fierce. With irresistible power desire seizes mastery over the flesh. All at once a secret, shouldering fire is kindled. The flesh burns and is in flames. It makes no difference whether it is sexual desire, or ambition, or vanity, or desire for revenge, or love of fame and power, or greed for money, or, desire for perpetual leadership. Finally, that strange desire for the beauty of the world, of nature. Joy in God is now in course of being extinguished in us and we seek all our joy in the creature.
At this moment God is quite unreal to us, he loses all reality, he is forgotten and only desire for the creature is real; the only reality is the devil.
Satan does not here fill man’s heart with hatred of God, but with forgetfulness of God. The lust thus aroused envelops the mind and will of man in deepest darkness. The powers of clear discrimination and of decision are taken from us. It is here that everything within me rises up against the Word of God.
Let me be clear about this. Temptation isn’t from God, though he knows about it. Temptation wasn’t invented by man either. Temptation probably existed before the creation of man. Eve was the first woman to be tempted by the devil. Ever since man fell, his inclination has been towards evil. His desires are predominantly wrapped around evil. You should stay away from things and places that tempt you.
You cannot beat temptation on your own. That’s why we beg in prayer…”lead us not into temptation” God provides ways of escape when we are tempted. That “way” is running away every time, telling someone who can help hold us accountable. Incredible…
To be continued.