The Slippery Slope of Temptation

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Among the “two kinds of people” sets in this world is the early-risers-vs.-night-owls set. The subcategory of that set responsible for the most feuds is:

  1. People who love loud, raucous music and parties that last well into the night.
  2. People who are ready to settle into bed by 10 p.m. every night, even Fridays and Saturdays.

It’s too bad no city zoning restriction keeps the night partiers and the night sleepers in different neighborhoods. If you’re an early-to-bed type living in a thin-walled apartment, it can be seriously hard to love your neighbors when you’re desperate for rest and no set of earplugs seems capable of shutting out the thump, thump, thump of full-volume rock music. Bearing with it for an hour is one thing, but from 9:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.?!?

If thinking hateful thoughts about others makes one a murderer (cf. 1 John 3:15), I for one have earned at least forty life sentences on sleep-deprived nights.

Step By Step Into Temptation

You may never have been tempted to hate (let alone literally shoot) a neighbor for keeping you awake, but no doubt you have your own situations where sin looks irresistible. As the Bible notes in James 1:14-15 (italics added): “Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

Let’s look at these stages step by step.

  1. Evil desire. The fleshly desire that’s so eager to chase sin’s bait can be anything from sexual gratification to power over others to pride in our own “goodness.” The common factor is that we want to satisfy our desires more than we want to please God.
  2. Conception. Even when we want to choose God’s will over our desires, resisting in His strength isn’t always a quick-relief pill. If we pray we’ll be able to resist drugs or pornography or workaholism or self-pity or bitterness, yet the source of our annoyance persists or our cravings just seem to shout all the louder, do we continue in prayer for divine strength? Or do we turn to the easy route: telling ourselves that what we want isn’t really bad and won’t really hurt anything? Or that God doesn’t care about us anyway ?
  3. Sin. Whether the beginning of actual sin is marked by active rationalization or open defiance; whether it involves real-world action or stops at ugly thoughts–it’s the point where we say, in effect, “God, I don’t care what You want. If You won’t do things my way, I won’t do things Your way either!”
  4. Death. As with Adam who lived over 800 years after eating the “you shall surely die” fruit, sin rarely brings literal and immediate death–and that makes it all the more insidious. When nothing obviously serious happens the first time we give in to a sinful desire, we do it “just once more” until it grows into a way of life. Things may get incrementally worse until they explode into disaster. Or, more subtly but just as dangerously, we may commit spiritual suicide through a progressively hardening heart.

Getting Off That Slippery Slope

Thankfully, by God’s grace we can get out of sin and back to Him at any stage in the process:

“If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal” (2 Chronicles 7:14, King James Version).

It may be anything but easy, but it’s always worth the effort.

Even the effort of praying through your exhaustion all night for God’s blessing on your noisy neighbors.

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Leave a comment


  1. jo swank

     /  February 6, 2019

    Another good “how to” step by step. I know you were speaking from experience with the noisy neighbor example. : ) Peace, Jo


  2. Katherine Swarts

     /  February 6, 2019

    When I’m ready to move again, I may pray for an apartment with soundproof walls and windows! (Only I’d miss the sounds of the rain at night and birdsong in the morning.)


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  • A blog for naturally melancholy Christians tired of being told to "snap out of it"; for Christians who struggle with mental-health issues and long for assurance God delights in them nonetheless; and for naturally optimistic Christians who want to understand their "gloomy" loved ones.

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    I am the go-to writer for people with tough stress issues and special emotional needs—and for those who love them, organizations that serve them, and anyone who just wants to better understand the world of mental/emotional struggles. Or who just wants to pick up some good stress-management tips! Visit my main website at

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