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TEMPTATION: AN INEVITABLE EXISTENTIAL REALITY (A reflection towards character formation) By Preye S. PAUL

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PREAMBLE
In the Presampa Window, the author invites us to look keenly through the Window a perennial challenge confronting man’s moral existence. The Window is named after the nickname of the author. The Presampa Window is a concise voyage of self-realization that is pivotal to religious personnel and by extension, to lovers of knowledge. The thrust of the Window is to give an analysis of what temptation entails, it is an inclination to sin. The Window unveils or brings to light the various facets of temptation that cut across human spheres. In the Window four focal temptations are highlighted. The four central temptations are: Meta-tempt, Psycho-tempt, Emo-tempt and Exter-tempt (MPEE). Out of the four temptations, the first is abstract or spiritual, while the second and third are interior or internal (both are subsumed and addressed as mental temptation). In contrast, the fourth temptation is exterior or external.
At this juncture, let us go into details.
META-TEMPT
This is the metaphysical temptation. This is the kind of temptation that is beyond the natural realm, though, transcendental. This kind of temptation was what St. Paul suitably identified in Eph. 6:12. Moreover, there is a spiritual warfare between two or more spiritual entities which might also involve the physical. Most times, the spiritual seems to have upper hand over the physical. Hence, the supernatural have a greater chance of manipulating the universe and man’s endeavours. There are some spiritual temptations that cannot be explained by reason alone, but through faith.
However, not everyone accepts this abstract level of temptation due to the fact that it is not empirically verified. Philosophers like David Hume, John Locke and other logical positivists disagreed with anything metaphysical. Some persons (in the like of Kant) believe that there is no bearing or nexus between the physical and the metaphysical, but a mere postulation.
That apart, people who are religiously inclined believe that there are two opposing supernatural forces. The positive forces aid man to overcome temptations that are injurious to the soul and man’s wellbeing, while the negative forces yearn to ‘arrest’ and ruin the entirety of man’s life and existence (1Pt. 5:8), this can be made manifest in dreams, trances or visions.
It is in this light that religious leaders seriously admonish everyone to be prayerful and to live worthily – “Do good and avoid evil” (The Golden Rule of Ethics).

 

PSYCHO-TEMPT
This is the psychological temptation. This kind of temptation unravels the things that run through the human mind ie, the mental state. These ‘things’ affect the human person either positively or negatively and by extension they determine one’s relationship with God and neighbour. The individual’s state of mind, to a great extent, determines the level of the person’s relationship with God and neighbuor.
Scripturally, Christ made us to understand that one can sin by the defiling things that run through his mind or thought (Mt. 5:28). These “defiling things” chiefly include impure thoughts (lust, evil intention, etc), though impure thought itself is not a sin, what counts is the individual’s psychological response, it is either he derives joy from it or he honestly resist it immediately and vehemently.
Psychological temptation can also include (mental) self-defeat, disappointment, gluttony, self rejection, hopelessness, inferiority complex, anxiety etc. If one is too anxious over things like, seeking for life partner, fruit of the womb, job opportunity, success in studies, the fear of the known and unknown, such anxiety makes one to die severally before his/her real death. These challenges are capable of leading someone astray. They can frustrate, or even ignite psychological frustrations. This is a big challenge to the human person. It seems to be the most dangerous and deadly temptation, because if man fails to understand himself in having a mature mind, he cannot easily tackle the other kinds of temptations and be victorious.
EMO-TEMPT
Emo-tempt is the third of the temptations in Presampa Window, it places emphasis on the feelings or emotional perspective of man. However, there is little or not too clear distinction between Emo-tempt and Psycho-tempt. They work hand in hand. They are typically and functionally interrelated. Though, extrinsically, they are the same at the superficial level but intrinsically in a deep view, the Emo-tempt is centred on human’s emotions and feelings, while the psycho-tempt is on human’s reasoning and ideology.
Emotions indeed, are highly influenced by the human psyche, (our psychological needs, either met or not motivate or trigger our actions). Thus, there is a relationship between the psycho-tempt and the emo-tempt.

 

An individual’s feeling or behaviour (negative or positive) unveils what one has in his ‘power house’ (the mind). However, some of the emotional temptations that confront man involve aggression, hot temper, pride, anger, hatred, wickedness, envy, sloth, lust, and above all, lack of self control. These challenges are indeed, deadly, and if an individual lacks self control or self discipline, he can easily ruin his personality, which can even extend to his society.
EXTER-TEMPT
This is the fourth type of temptation. It is the external temptation. It generates from an external body to an individual. It is a temptation that comes from a particular person to another. Such temptations may come from friends, husband, wife, children, parents, family, relatives, colleagues, perceived enemies, and in addition, the society.
Nevertheless, some of the early Christians suffered severe temptations, tribulations, persecutions in the various places they found themselves while proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. They did experience martyrdom due to the zeal they had for the Gospel. Also, some of the Christians were accused falsely and they were put to death.
MATTERS ARISING
It is an obvious truth that temptation is a bane to man’s moral existence. It is something that is part of our lives, in as much as, we are not supernaturally created like the Angels of God. In Scriptural addition, we learnt that temptation is as old as man, considering the temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 4).
However, the questions to raise here are:
1. When does temptation begin?
2. What are the implications or effects of temptation?
3. Can temptation be overcome permanently or temporally?
4. Does temptation have boundary or favourite?
5. How can one overcome temptation etc?
These are timely and apt issues. Nevertheless, I shall modestly address the above questions from the psychological and spiritual perspectives.

 

In response to question (1), temptation mainly begins from the individual or the human mind consciously or unconsciously, and that is why I said in the introductory part that temptation is the inclination to sin.

 

In question (2), the effects of temptation are numerous. Temptation weighs one down, and it brings unhealthy relationships between people and friends, and above all, it separates one from God, if the individual fails to abide in God. Thus, if one is being distanced from God, what good will it be to the person, nothing but a mess of life.

 

In response also to question (3), I firmly believe that temptation cannot be overcome permanently, but temporally, except one dies.

 

In question (4), I can say that temptation has neither favourite nor boundary. It penetrates the depth of the human mind/heart, undermining one’s personality and purity. This shows that even though one distances oneself from the society or some set of persons, one can still be tempted by anything else.

 

However, the degree of temptation varies from person to person and from one circumstance to the other.
That apart, the question (5), is very essential- “how can one overcome temptation?” Firstly, the individual should acknowledge the fact that he/she is a human being, not an Angel, be aware of your limitations. Don’t pretend to be something you are not. Secondly, have healthy and sound mind, discipline your mind towards the right path, think positively. Don’t be carried away by emotions, be rational. I however, believe that when you ‘kill’ the mind from thinking rightly, your existence on earth is of little or no meaning.  You are like a ‘dead’ man among the living. Thirdly, avoid occasions of sin. Lastly, the other most important way of overcoming temptation is being spiritually inclined by consistent prayer, reflecting on the Word of God, and surrendering oneself to the Spirit of God. More so, with humility and purity, one has the chance to defeat temptation of any kind be it spiritual, physical or internal.

 

CONCLUSION
As long as we live in this world we cannot be without tribulation and temptation. It is to this that Job asserts that “the life of man upon earth is a temptation” (Job. 7:1). Again, “a man is never entirely secure from temptations as long as he lives, because we have within us the source of temptation, having been born in concupiscence,” says Thomas Kempis. Thus temptation is inevitable. That is why we have to pray this way: “O God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference” (Reinhold Neibuhr).
Finally, all we have discussed leads us to character formation. When one has good character, he can easily overcome temptations or trials in life. In my own words, C-H-A-R-A-C-T-E-R means a,

C- Christ-like individual
H – having inner peace and good qualities
A – associated with good
R- reputation,
A- acting in
C- conformity with the
T- Truth of the Gospel. He/she is not compromisable by
E- external or internal temptations or turbulence emanating from worldly
R- reactions.
AUTHOR’S BIO:

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PAUL, Samson Preye, is a lover of academic excellence. His intellectual agility and creativity is highly fantastic. He is a patriotic Nigerian, a dual citizen of Delta and Bayelsa States of Nigeria. Precisely from Ayakoromo and Aghoro communities. He had his Philosophical studies from the prestigious University of Benin, Benin-City Edo State. Currently, he is at the pen ultimate class of his Theological studies in the Catholic Major Seminary of All Saints, Uhiele-Ekpoma, Edo State (Affiliated to Urbanian University, Rome). He is from the Catholic Diocese of Bomadi. However, Preye has gifted hands. He is a motivational speaker and writer. He has been invited for several student conventions, seminars/workshops and paper presentations in academic and non academic platforms. He has to his credit, awards of excellence, articles published in international journal, magazines (including online), powerful reflections in religious bulletins and others. He has passion for volleyball and music.
His philosophy of life: ACT YOUR PART WELL, FOR THERE LIES YOUR HONOUR.
Phone no: +234(0)8138903438.
Email: preyepaul@gmail.com

 

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