Three mundane examples, the first, when in the supermarket buying apples. We take an apple and have a look, suddenly it slips off from our hand and falls onto the ground, the good looking apple is damaged. At this moment, there are two options. One is to put it into our basket and pay for it at counter. The other is to put the damaged apple back into the stall and pretend nothing happened.
Maybe we are late for work because we overslept, so we need to ring up our place of work to inform our work colleagues. There are also two options. One is tell the truth that we'll be late to work because we overslept, but the consequence is that the manager may dock us for the time we were not at work. We're on a tight budget! The other option is to blame the traffic or public transport delays.
Another everyday mundane illustration may have unforseen consequences. Perhaps we use public transport to get to school or uni or work. Suburban rail and bus fares are pretty steep now-a-days and in Sydney, where I live, they are recognised as one of the highest in the world. Perhaps to save a few dollars, we buy the concession ticket and then use those special discounted tickets at times when they are not legal. The problem arises is that, if we're caught by the rail police, a significant fine is awaiting us or even worse public humiliation.
These three examples provide a basis for understanding how insidious temptation is and how so very easy it is to fall into temptation any day and at any time.
The question is, how many of us can resist such temptations? Guilt is an enormously strong emotion. Ask any Customs officer at any major airport. We have all seen those television airport programs where there is something not quite right and the Customs officer somehow has that sixth sense and picks it up.
When I was at university in Malaysia there were innumerable temptations for a young man from China. I recall at university on one occasion, during a semester break, I went with friends to Genting Highland. Genting is a famous place for tourists in Malaysia - theme parks and shopping malls and casinos.
As a Christian I was fully conversant that the casino specialises in gambling, and somehow it did not sit right within my heart to engage my limited funds in such a manner. However, my friends decided to go into the casino to engage in this way. I went with them. But, I didn't want be the odd-man out and wait outside. Worse still, I even exchanged my 50 Ringgit of local currency's chips and played on the poker machine and lost the lot.
Foolishly, I did not resist this temptation. I went inside, I gambled, I lost, I did not enjoy myself. I felt miserable deep inside. I sense that the reader will have likewise experienced such depression when they know what they have done was giving in to such temptations.
For me, I realised what a mistake it was. It taught me an invaluable lesson. I never went again nor did I even want to return. There was a sense of 'never again'. Fortunately there are temptations where a second chance comes our way.
But the experience in Genting taught me a lesson – that if I fail to heed that inner voice and simply go with the flow of the temptation, I will fall into the trap of Satan.
Now, each time I come across such a situation, I ask God first whether it is a temptation at all - as sometimes there are two good options to choose from. Let's not be silly about such matters. There is cause for discernment.
But if it is a real temptation, I will seek guidance from God to help me to overcome and be ever vigilant in such decisions.
It has been very helpful for me to read that Jesus too was tempted by Satan. Jesus stood on the Word of God. Our God is bigger than any temptation. This is my underlying strength when seeking an answer and asking for guidance from our Lord. I believe He will give me sufficient wisdom to resist.
It is a matter of our response. Grace is the Lord overwhelming us with His completeness that we, in the joy of Christ, make a righteous response.
Oscar Duan is from China, he has an accountancy degree from University of Hertfordshire (UH) International campus in Malaysia, and has undertaken further accountancy studies in Australia for accreditation here. He is married to Heyley.
Oscar Duan's previous articles may be viewed at