There are multiple principles that have been taught in this course that have changed my view of being a Christian but here I would like to focus on temptation and the Crown of Life. These two topics shed new light in my understanding of resisting temptation and the reward for doing so. Not all Christians know how to deal with temptation nor that their efforts go unnoticed in the grand scheme of things. Resisting temptation can prove to be very difficult at times and one of the biggest temptations can be to avoid persecution for being a Christian. But not only does resisting temptation help one stay on the way to Heaven, God will single out those who resist temptation and are willing to die for their faith, and reward them justly.
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Temptation can be theologically defined as a trial; “a being put to the test” (Easton, 2007). In basic terms, it is the enticement to sin. The devil brought temptation into the world. Thankfully, Jesus Christ sacrificed his life to save us from sin and overpower Satan. It is up to each person to make a concerted effort to resist temptation, just as Jesus did in the wilderness. In the Old Testament, the word for temptation is the Hebrew word maccah, which translates to temptation or trial. In the New Testament, the word in Greek is peirasmos, which means temptation(s) or to try. According to the Blue Letter Bible website, the word “temptation” appears in the King James Version sixteen times in fifteen verses.
One of the foundations for the doctrine comes from Matthew 26:41: “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (KJV). The first recording in scripture of Satan tempting humanity is when he tempted Eve’s loyalty through her lust of the flesh to God, which led her to eating the forbidden fruit. He also appealed to her lust of the eyes whereby the appearance of the fruit caused her to desire what she did not already have as well as feeding on her basic feeling of self-worth and self-preservation. Temptation is even mentioned in The Lord’s Prayer: “And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil” (Luke 11:4, KJV).
There are several practical applications regarding the issue of temptation. One of the best ways to protect oneself is to stay alert at all times and remember that the flesh is weak. Be sure to test everything that comes across your path and question whether it is from God or not. People should make every attempt to avoid conditions that might lead them to temptation. It is always important to focus on the truth and if we follow Christ, He will show us the truth, and it will set us free. When a person feels tempted, if they turn to prayer, God will always provide another way. You just have to be vigilant in looking for His way.
Crown of Life
The Crown of Life is one of the rewards for believers that will be given by Jesus from his seat of judgment. Theologically defined, the Crown of Life is not something that is received as soon as someone becomes a Christian but something the Christian will receive from God after proving firmness in faith. It is also sometimes referred to as the martyr’s crown. This crown has a guarantee and is a promise to those that suffer deprivation now and to those specifically who love God and honor Christ. Simply put, the Crown of Life is God’s reward to humanity for his perseverance in faith and his honoring of Jesus Christ.
There is a lot more biblical foundation for this doctrine than I thought I would find when I began my research. Revelation 2:10 stands out the most to me: “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a Crown of Life” (KJV). Jesus specifically tells us that we will be tempted throughout out lives and we will more than likely receive persecution for our faith in Him. It is our duty to keep Satan beneath our feet and proclaim the truth in Jesus in order to receive this honor. James 1:12 is also another great reference for this doctrine: “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the Crown of Life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” (KJV). Dr. Towns pointed out that the author could have been referring to temptations of Christians to “compromise their witness” instead of dealing with the discrimination of being one of the faithful “at the cost of their lives” (Towns, 1983).
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The applications of this doctrine are more than practical but one must be very cautious because this is not a reward to be making bets for when you choose to live a life in faith. You do not live in faith just to receive this reward, quite the contrary. You receive this award for living in faith without regard to being rewarded for it. Making it through the temptation and persecution is of way more value than the gaining of the crown itself. If a Christian loses everything they have, Christ is still worthy of honor and the Crown of Life is still worth the steadfastness. Do not get wrapped up in things of this world such as money being the source of self-worth, security, and/or power. These things can only be appropriately received through faith in God and if a person lives by biblical principles with a true heart and without regard to their own humanly wants and temptations, they will receive their just reward – the Crown of Life. If a Christian loses everything they have, Christ is still worthy of honor and the Crown of Life is still worth the steadfastness.
Everybody gets tempted in life. Pleasing God is all in how you deal with those temptations. The world today is so far gone from what God seeks from His people now that temptation is rampant. So many sinful behaviors are seen as normal everyday things that are okay for people to do. This denial of God’s truth will keep His people from grace and all of His rewards, including the Crown of Life, which is eternal and assured for all of those who live righteously. People should not resist temptation just to receive the crown reward but rather should earn it by living everyday in light of God’s desires. Resisting temptation is a huge part in earning the Crown of Life. It is not going to be easy if one does it alone, but if they look to God, he will help make it a little more bearable.