14 May Why does God Allow Temptation?
Temptation is common to man. Though temptation isn’t from God, why does He allow us to be tempted? Why can’t God just dismiss it? Why is it that I always find myself struggling with temptation? If these are some questions you have struggled with, you are not alone. For Jesus too, was tempted. To look at this question, that a lot of us face, we will focus on the Gospel of Mark 1:12-15, which, though only involves two sentences about Jesus’ temptation, has many theological facts behind them.
Jesus was tempted straight after being baptized
Jesus was always led by the Holy Spirit, never any other spirit. It was the Holy Spirit that drove Jesus into the dessert ‘immediately’ after his baptism, where he was tempted by the devil (Mark 1:12). Notice this happened straight after His baptism, straight after the Holy Spirit had descended on Him. Therefore, if you are a new convert, or someone who has recently received confession, or received any sort of spiritual experience recently, do not be alarmed when you find yourself being tested straight after. Many people say “before I converted to Catholicism or Christianity, everything was going well but once I encountered Jesus and accepted Him as my Savior, and came to faith, I am faced with many temptations and struggles. My life became tough”. If this is you, do not be disappointed for this is bound to happen. If this happens, remember you are on the right track because the devil cannot tolerate it. But why does God permit this? Why must we go through temptation? God has a purpose for this.
God gives us the power to overcome temptation
1 Corinthians 10:13 no testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.
One thing we must remember is that with testing He will always give us power, the way and the grace to overcome it. It is when we face temptation that we receive grace. It is during the testing period that we receive the blessing. The Israelites only received the 10 commandments, the manna, the tabernacle, and all blessings and protection only during the wilderness- the testing period. They then continued their life in Israel with what they received in the wilderness during the testing period of 40 years. Therefore, if God is permitting you to go through a testing period, it means He is giving you time to time to collect all your heavenly treasures- so don’t waste it. That’s why the Holy Spirit is so eager to drive you to temptation and testing moments; they’re important!
Testing leads to authority
- St John Paul II Received Authority over Parkinson’s Disease by Facing it
St John Paul II was diagnosed as having Parkinson’s disease. Although this caused a lot of questions and doubt of why such a holy man, the pope of the Catholic church, would go through such a terrible crisis, it was actually his treasure. During his last days, he was shivering, trembling and was even unable to speak a single sentence, yet he did not give up. He held onto his faith so tightly. Even though he was unable to lift his head, he didn’t let that defeat him or stop him from reciting the rosary. Though he died, he defeated Parkinson’s sickness as later he was canonized due to the healing miracle of a religious nun who was healed from Parkinson’s. This means, through his testing, St John Paul II received authority over Parkinson’s disease and received the grace to overcome and defeat it. Since then, there have been so many other miracles through the intercession of St John Paul II.
- St Damian of Molokai Received Authority over Leprosy by Facing it
Fr Damian volunteered to go to an island called Molokai to take care of the lepers as there were no other priests that were able to go to take care of the people’s spiritual needs. Due to the danger of leprosy and it being highly contagious, there was no Holy Eucharist or confession and people were very isolated. Initially when Fr Damian reached the village, he wasn’t accepted due to not having leprosy. However, once he received acceptance, he was able to celebrate mass, the sacraments and even cleansed many of the lepers. However, this led to Fr Damian developing leprosy himself. Despite this, many were healed from skin diseases, skill allergies and problems through the intercession of Fr Damian.
This is how God works. God wants to give you certain authority. That’s why the Holy Spirit allows you to go though tough temptations. It is not the Holy Spirit who tests you, it is the devil but the Holy Spirit permits this. When Jesus was tested in the wilderness he did not submit himself to the temptations, instead He defeated the devil. That’s why it only takes for Jesus to come close to someone possessed by evil spirit for the spirit to leave. Why? Satan knows he cannot win against Jesus. Satan has lost and is already defeated, but Jesus stands victorious. The one who lost will always submit to the victorious one. And so, if you were victorious in any temptation or any testing you have gone through, remember you are victorious forever. You have authority. The sickness, the sin that tested you, the evil one that tested you, will always lose. Though the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tested by the devil, Jesus overcame it and became victorious.
What is the implication of 40 days of temptation by Satan?
The number 40 has many implications. It is the number relating to purification, testing and affliction. During the time of Noah, the flood that washed the whole world and purified it lasted 40 days and 40 nights. The Israelites after being saved from Egypt, went through a wilderness which lasted 40 years. These 40 years was also a time of testing which defeated many.
40 days also has a special meaning for the life of Elijah, when he fasted for 40 days. He also went through a purification process of 40 days and 40 nights with the simple food given by the angel: 1 King 19:8 He got up and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food 40 days and 40 nights to Horeb the Mount of God.
This therefore shows the significance of the number 40, for Jesus and many other people in the bible, who went through a period of purification.
Sirach 2:1 My child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for testing.
Remember, conversion will inevitably lead to a testing period. You will have a tough time. When you become a follower of Christ, when you begin to take your faith seriously- there will be temptation. Have you noticed the many temptations that arise during lent? During fasting and penance, though we may begin lent with much optimism, we face many temptations. That’s why God says ‘child, when you come to serve the Lord prepare yourself for testing’. This is bound to happen. But, wherever you are in your journey, do not give up. Resist and overcome it with the strength of God. Jesus knows your every struggle and has gone through temptation Himself and so He is able to help you. Whenever you face temptation, look to Him, find strength in Him and you will be able to resist, for nothing is impossible with God ( Luke 1:37).
In the story of Noah, Noah went through a purification period through water (the flood) for 40 days. Likewise, Jesus also went through a purification period in the dessert. This means anyone who goes through purification must go through testing. Anyone who wants to enter into the New Kingdom, anyone who serves the Lord must be prepared to go through testing. This is both a warning and a consolation. If you are going through a testing period, as a result of drawing closer to God, you are on the right path. There’s nothing to lose but everything to gain. This testing is prepared and given because afterwards awaits a reward- a special anointing, a special authority that God wants to give you, just like the many prophets in the bible.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 12:8-9