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. ~ James 1:12
Melting and Acid tests are two of the best ways to find out the materials present in any unknown ore/mineral. The toughest materials have the highest melting temperatures, which means they can stand the most heat. The most precious materials can survive the strongest acid: they can resist the most corrosive attack. Curiously, the material that can withstand the highest heat and the strongest acid is diamond. And diamonds themselves are formed in hot corrosive environments.
Temptation is a part of life; each person must face it in some way. Furthermore, we know that temptation does not come from God (James 1:13), but arises from our own desires (James 1:14). And, we sin when our wills give in to our desires (James 1:15).
Therefore, temptation can be summarized as a battle between God’s commands and my desires: which one will I yield to? And, the intensity of temptation comes from the intensity of my desires: the more intense my desire is, the more intense the temptation is.
Temptation is like strong acid or intense heat: it reveals the authenticity of a believer. It exposes my willingness to yield to God’s commands instead of my desires. So the person that endures the heat and harshness of temptation rejoices because it proves their salvation is authentic. It is evidence of their rebirth; it affirms their heavenly reward; it confirms their love for Jesus.
Nevertheless, there is yet hope, even when we fail to endure temptation. At the start of James 1, we are told to rejoice when tempted, because “the trying of your faith worketh patience” (James 1:2). In other words, even if we fail to endure, the act of sincerely trying to endure temptation actually strengthens us! The constant testing of our faith helps to perfect us!
Clearly, we don’t sin so that “grace may abound” (Romans 6:1). But, when we fall, we don’t stay down: we get back up and keep striving to master temptation (1 Corinthians 9:24-25). We get back up and keep striving to yield our will to God’s Word. Not by our might, not by our power, but by the Holy Spirit working in us (Zechariah 4:6, John 6:63).
We keep fighting temptation, because intensely hot and intensively corrosive environments are necessary to produce true diamonds and true saints.