This is part 4 in a series of 6 articles about Temptation. If you’ve missed the previous articles, please scroll down to the bottom of this one for the links.
There is a purpose to our temptations – they exist to purify us and make us stronger in our Faith:
There are before you so many temptations, trials, afflictions, calamities and difficulties because you have to be purified through fire and sifted through the sieve in order to separate the wheat from the tares. Verily, I say unto you: none will be saved but the believers, and from the believers only the sincere, and even those are in great danger, especially in such a time. (‘Abdul-Bahá, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 443)
. . . sifting out the weak and raising up the strong in that constant purification of the ranks of the faithful which takes place in the course of the growth of this World Community. (Custodians, Ministry of the Custodians, p. 351)
Our lower nature wants us to believe that our tests and difficulties have no value, but without trials, we’d never overcome temptation. We need tests in order to develop our skills at avoiding temptation and turning back to God:
The more often the captain of a ship is in the tempest and difficult sailing the greater his knowledge becomes. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, Vol. XIV, No. 2, p. 41)
Can anything good come from our temptation?
Why does God want us to overcome temptation? When you don’t it becomes your sin. It creates veils between you and God, when God wants communion with us:
I desire communion with thee, but thou wouldst put no trust in Me . . . Imperishable glory I have chosen for thee, yet boundless shame thou hast chosen for thyself. While there is yet time, return, and lose not thy chance. (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words 21)
Since our purpose is to know God and we can’t know Him if we have veils between us, getting rid of the veils, overcoming temptation has to be a priority.
There are blessings for enduring temptation. Every temptation opens the doors to God’s blessings, if we yield to them. For example, God uses our trials to help remove the veils between us:
These tests, even as thou didst write, do but cleanse the spotting of self from off the mirror of the heart, till the Sun of Truth can cast its rays thereon; for there is no veil more obstructive that the self, and however tenuous that veil may be, at the last it will completely shut a person out, and deprive him of his portion of eternal grace. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 182)
And helps us grow spiritually:
Life in this world is a succession of tests and achievements, of falling short and of making new spiritual advances. Sometimes the course may seem very hard, but one can witness, again and again, that the soul who steadfastly obeys the Law of Bahá’u’lláh, however hard it may seem, grows spiritually (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, pp. 359-360).
And helps protect us from further tests:
The one who compromises with the law for the sake of his own apparent happiness . . . does not attain the happiness he sought, he retards his spiritual advance and often brings new problems upon himself. (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, pp. 359-360).
And increases our bounties:
The souls who bear the tests of God become the manifestations of great bounties . . . they cause the holy souls to ascend to the highest degree of love and solidity. (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 2 December, 1985)
I hope you’ll let me know what you think of these ideas, and then continue on to the next few articles, as I explore this topic more fully.
In part 1, we look at What is Temptation?
In part 2, we look atThe Steps of Temptation Leading to Sin
In part 3, we look at The Ways in Which we are Tempted
In part 5, we look at Things We Can Do When We are Tempted
In part 6, we look at The Consequences of Temptation and How to Prevent It