Him or Me
Those who let themselves be controlled by their lower natures live only to please themselves, but those who follow after the Holy Spirit find themselves doing those things that please God.
- Romans 8:5
In one short verse, Paul summarizes the issue involved in our constant battle with temptation. In essence, he says, when it comes to sin do we choose to please God or do we choose to please ourselves?
Some of the choices in life are easy; loving our children, enjoying the pleasure of fine food or a job well done, all of these are at once a joy to experience and part of God's plan for man's happiness. There are other moments, however, when life serves up the temptation to cheat or to lie, the lure of illicit sex or money, the pleasure of revenge and the never-ending opportunities to criticize, complain and act in faithless and Godless ways. These times challenge us with the clear decision to please God through self-control and self-denial or please self by indulging in what is before us.
There are always reasons to give in to temptation, some reasons almost justify our conduct but the question we need to ask ourselves to make sure that what we are doing is right should be, "Will it please the Lord, or is this just pleasing me?" Jesus provided an example of this principle with his suffering and death. As a human being, He wanted to avoid the unpleasantness and suffering of the cross that loomed before Him, but once He saw that the issue was whether or not He pleased Himself (His will) or He pleased His Father (God's will), the struggle in the garden was over.
The battle against temptation is never easy but we can become more successful at it if we simply inquire who will receive pleasure from our actions, God or us?