Temptation is all the rage nowadays. In fact it has become, with pride, one of the modern 'virtues' of our present society. How would our world exist without a real in-depth understanding of how temptation works? I mean, who would be able to sell anything? Saatchi and Saatchi have made an art of it (and lots of money too) and television advertising would disappear without some sort of notion of how to entice people into parting with their hard-earned cash. They all know that temptation is a powerful tool in making people do something they would not ordinarily do or buy something they may not usually think twice about buying. They know that there is a weakness in our fallen human nature that, in the words of Oscar Wilde, can "resist everything except tempation".
When John and the other New Testament writers talk about the 'world' being under the power of the Evil One, it is tempting (there is that word again) to tone down the language or understanding they bring to the whole issue of power struggles, but I think they are wiser and more sophisticated than we give them credit. They know all too well how human nature works and how the enemy of our soul works. Without wishing in any way to sound complimentary, the Enemy is very clever. Just take an excerpt from today's morning television. One guest is brought on to help people to be more careful this coming Christmas and to avoid getting into more debt. His advice was to stay spend within your means and to budget so that you will not spend the rest of next year paying back what you have borrowed. His concern, which I believe to be genuine, was that parents keep a sense of persepective and think long term not just of the mad moment. It was a good item and left you feeling that here was television being helpful and responsible. So far so good until the main presenter turns to the very next item of the show which was to exhibit to, and excite the audience with, the newest fashion accessories for party dressware! On the one hand they give but with the next they take away. Spend less. Be responsible. Resist temptation one minute. And the next? Spend more. Indulge yourself. Give in to it!
Temptation is endemic in our society and cleverly disguised within the advertising which is a normal part of everyday life. The world is indeed infiltrated by the enemy who exploits large parts of it at will. It's subtle and very clever. The bait dangles on the rod. Will we bite?