Things that provoke to temptation

Posted by on May 30, 2017

Information is not experience

There is always a difference between information, and knowledge gained through experience.  A mother reading about giving birth does not have the same perspective as the mother, who is holding her newborn daughter.  Knowing if you studied enough for an exam is always made clear when it is complete.  In life, we continually experience this truth:  Information is not experience.

Before we came to Papua New Guinea we had read about it, talked about it and met with people who had lived there.  We cooked food that was different.  We shopped at grocery stores that were different.  We even made our home a little warmer in the summer to get a feel for the change in climate.  What were we doing?  Attempting to prepare ourselves for what we had never experienced.

Fast forward four years and our perspective has rounded a corner that our previous knowledge could never grasp.  We now know what it is to live life in Papua New Guinea, more specifically, Madang.  Something I never really considered before we left are the ways we would be provoked into temptation to sin.  Take hunger, it is a universal example.  It is something that can provoke us into temptation to sin.  The hunger is not temptation but it provides, through the weakness of our flesh, a means for temptation to more easily come.

Here are a few things we have found that provoke since we have been in PNG:

  • Trying to hear or talk when the power is out and the generator is running.
  • The high humidity and continual heat of Madang without relief.
  • Slow, impeded internet connectivity.
  • Continual dropped calls and poor connections calling and FaceTiming family and friends.
  • Bank transactions taking multiple hours to complete.
  • Credit Card machines at grocery stores commonly not working.

In all these, the thing that provokes so clearly lays bare the idol in the heart.  When an expectation it not satisfied, that idol gets “bumped” and temptation to sin is found crouching at the door.  Often times Lorie and I fall into temptation and become quick to anger, downcast, bitter and not trust that God is in control.  In those moments, we are not living our theology.

So what are we to do?  I have found that nothing helps to fight such things that provoke than to renew my mind.  When I am not continually renewing my mind with what is true, I will quickly respond as though God is not in control.  It is a joy to know that God’s Word is so clear regarding this truth:


Pslam 119:1-3
Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord!  Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, 3 who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!

Romans 8:28
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Putting it all together

I could continue listing more passages, however those two are enough to fight against those things that provoke.  Psalm 119:1-3 describes the action of the ones that are blessed.  They, “who walk”, “who keep”, “who seek” and “who do no wrong”.  The Psalmist is someone who fears God and he describes these blessed individuals as people of action.  They are not passive in their pursuit of the Lord, they are actively in pursuit of the Lord and knowing him.

The passage in Romans is all that is needed to uphold God’s sovereignty (his perfect control over every event in his entire creation).  In this passage, Paul tells us that, “all things” work together for good.  Dropped phone calls, continual sweating from heat, slow employees at the bank, everything works for the good of the believer, everything.

Living in Papua New Guinea has only proved that things provoke to temptation in every corner of this creation.  So, I have been praying for God’s grace to be a person of action.  Actively renewing my mind in who God is and desiring to have a godly response to those things that provoke to temptation.  Lord willing, you will have a desire to do the same!

One Comment

  1. Jeremy, this is so good, convicting, and encouraging to me. You behave helped me see clearly that the trial and the temptation are not the same and have revealed some idols in my heart being bumped. Thank you for your care for me (and us) here in the US even while you are so many thousands of miles away. Praise God for His work in you over these years, for sustaining you in the midst of countless trials and even furnishing great blessings. Can’t wait to see you