God expects more from us than being a victim of our animal instincts.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Do not be like the horse or the mule,
    which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
    or they will not come to you.
10 Many are the woes of the wicked,
    but the Lord’s unfailing love
    surrounds the one who trusts in him.

– Psalm 32:8-10

People may be tempted to read verse 8 and think it is referring to how God leads us in making decisions about our lives (which he does do according to His purposes). However, this verse is addressing how we handle temptation and sin.

God equips us with the ability to choose to resist our most basic desires, but it is a choice we must make ourselves…daily. We should not expect God to force our hand toward obedience. We are not a dog on a leash, or from the passage, a horse controlled by bit and bridle. And therein lies the difficulty. These things are not in our nature: discipline, restraint, godliness, integrity, forgiveness, etc. These things become more of a part of us as we become more like Christ and less like ourselves.

The choice is made when we are standing before temptation, and we choose to indulge. It is this inner struggle where we must wage a war against what we think we want in the moment. It’s been said many times, but preparation is half the battle. We cannot expect to resist temptation without having spent time drawing near to God…putting on our armor, so to speak.

If we want to be more than a horse or a mule in God’s eyes, then we must be more than a horse or a mule in how we start each day. We need to prepare for the battles we will face, and then stand strong based on how he has instructed us. We resist temptation because his “loving eye” is on us.