(7) Oddly, temptation and failure can coexist with genuine spiritual progress and attainment. Often, as we grow in spiritual self-awareness, we become more conscious of the compromises that hitherto have been comfortably accommodated in our habitual behavior. We are disturbed by these and try to do something about them; but casting off a long-familiar pattern of behavior is not so easy. In this way, progress ushers in a phase of struggle and defeat. We may be surprised that our desire for God increases apace with our perceived failures.
(8) It is important for us not to identify with our temptations. They may say a lot about us, but they do not tell the whole story. “Even though our hearts condemn us, God who knows all is greater than our hearts” (1 Jn.3:20). “God knows of what we are made, he remembers that we are dust” (Ps.103:14). Temptation tends to make us forget that, fallen though we are, we are greatly loved by God. There is more to us than our sin. Especially in time of temptation and afterwards, we need to avoid attributing to God the reproach we direct at ourselves.
You know, the old phrase, “It’s not wrong to be tempted?” Though we seem to acknowledge it, I wonder how often we really believe it. Part of temptation is to cause excessive amounts of guilt and shame to accommodate the temptation itself. Maybe that’s even the more harmful part.
We start thinking, “What’s wrong with me?” “Why am I still tempted by this?” We feel as though we should no longer be tempted to wrong things. Sure, some things do fall away over time, but we must be cautious not to think we are ever above temptation, for in fact that is what we are thinking when we start feeling we should not even be tempted by things. Again, yet another brilliant aspect of temptation. No, I didn’t give in, yet I feel horrible for being tempted by it again. “Mission accomplished,” says the demon. Without even getting you to give in directly.
You are loved as you are being tempted to do wrong and go against said Lover. You’re tempted because you are human. It’s OK. Remember, the more you do resist by not actually giving in, the stronger you become.
There is a certain amount of evidence to suggest that the more strongly we seek to channel our energies in a particular direction, the fiercer the temptation. One who is merely drifting knows no such torment.