Life is full of temptation. We have choices to make each day, choices that are aimed at either serving God as king or serving ourselves as king. We’re called to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling,” (Eph. 4:1), “in step with the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:14), yet each day we’re plagued by “deceitful desires” (Eph. 4:22) that lead us down “a way that seems right…but its end is the way of death” (Prov. 14:12).

At times we may feel powerless to resist sin’s grip, to turn away and do good, because at times temptation can feel overwhelming. It can feel irresistible. What do we do in those times?

Jon Bloom of Desiring God wrote an article titled “How to Resist Temptation’s Mirage Moment.” In it he explains what happens in our hearts when we’re tempted by using the illustration of a desert-stranded person who craves water.

A mirage is that hallucination parched people sometimes experience in a hot desert. A real desire for water and the shimmering heat of the sand play disorienting games with the mind and emotions. A refreshing oasis seems to appear in the distance promising the happiness of a quenched desire.

A thirsty person might know that no oasis has previously existed in that location. But his desire to be happy, fueled by the hope that this time he just might find happiness there, or at least relief from misery, tempts him to believe the vision. If he yields, he discovers his hope was hopeless and his desire dashed because the oasis was a sham.

In temptation, the mirage moment occurs as we are tempted by a vision promising happiness. Some shimmering oasis of promised joy or relief from despair appears where God said it shouldn’t be.

The mirage’s appearance taps into our real desire to be happy. Our disoriented emotions begin to respond to this desire with a feeling of hope — hope that maybe this time, even if we’ve been disappointed many times before, the oasis will quench our desire. But we know that God has told us it is a false hope.

So we are faced with a choice between temptation’s compelling appearance and God’s promise. We are tempted, but have not yet succumbed to sin.

Bloom continues by examining two people in Scripture who faced the mirage moment of temptation themselves: first Eve, then Jesus Christ. He concludes by bringing this understanding of temptation back to us, addressing the way we handle those mirage moments ourselves.

I highly recommend taking the time to read the whole article when you can. May it be an aid to you in the battle against temptation and sin.

While God is faithful to change hearts and minds in the lives of His children, we also understand that change is a process, and often times far from simplistic or quick. Habits of life and thinking tend to change over time as the Holy Spirit works in hearts. This process of change is called “progressive sanctification.” It can be helpful and sometimes necessary to seek help from other Christians who can faithfully lead and walk with us, providing biblical encouragement and instruction along the way for the implementation of God-honoring, Christ-centered change. If you are struggling with life’s challenges, we would encourage you to seek help from your pastor, a godly friend, or a biblical counselor who is committed to seeking answers from God’s Word. To find a biblical counselor you can contact us or visit biblicalcounseling.com to find a counselor in your area.

Born and raised in the Dallas area, Ryan loves calling Texas his home. He met his wife Jessica at Grace Bible Fellowship Church, where he serves on staff and is a counselor for Grace Biblical Counseling Ministries. Since 2013 he has been a member of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, and in May 2015 he graduated from Moody Bible Institute with a B.S. in Ministry Leadership.

Temptation Is a Mirage Moment