Temptation and Forgetfulness of God: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer from German Federal Archive

The following is a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, Temptation:

In our members there is a slumbering inclination toward desire, which is both sudden and fierce.  With irresistible power, desire seizes mastery of the flesh.  All at once a secret, smoldering fire is kindled.  The flesh burns and is in flames.  It makes no difference whether it is a sexual desire, or ambition, or vanity, or desire for revenge, our love of fame and power, or greed for money…

At this moment God is quite unreal to us. [Remember those words.] He loses all reality, and only desire for the creature is real.  The only reality is the devil.  Satan does not here fill us with hatred of God, but with forgetfulness of God…  The lust thus aroused  envelopes the mind and will of a man in deepest darkness.  The powers of clear discrimination and of decision are taken from us.  The questions present themselves as, ” Is what the flesh desires really sin in this case?” And, ” Is it really not permitted me, yes, expected of me now, here in my particular situation to appease desire?”

It is here that everything within me rises up against the Word of God….  Therefore the Bible teaches us in times of temptation in the flesh, there is one command:  Flee!  Flee fornication.  Flee idolatry.  Flee youthful lusts.  Flee the lusts of the world.  There is no resistance to Satan in lust other than flight.  Every struggle against lust in one’s own strength is doomed to failure.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (4 February 1906 – 9 April 1945)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a theologian, a martyr, a spiritual writer, a musician, a pastor, and an author of poetry and fiction. The integrity of his Christian faith and life, and the international appeal of his writings, have received broad recognition and admiration, all of which… might lead future generations of Christians into creating a new more spiritual and responsible millennium. Dietrich Bonhoeffer [is] one of the most famous theologians and martyrs of the 20th century. [He is most famous for] his stand against Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party. His beliefs and convictions ultimately cost him his life in a Nazi concentration camp.


  • Quotation from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Temptation (New York: Macmillan, 1953),  116-117.
  • Biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer excerpted from the International Dietrich Bonhoeffer Society
  • This photo in Wikimedia Commons was provided by the German Federal Archive (Deutsches Bundesarchiv). The German Federal Archive guarantees an authentic digital representation only using the originals (negative and/or positive).

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Temptation and Forgetfulness of God: Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Sus Schmitt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

2 responses to “Temptation and Forgetfulness of God: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  1. Pingback: The War Within—Galatians 5:16–18 | Darkened Glass Reflections·

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