Temptation is no strange word in our vocabulary. Maybe someone pushes all our wrong buttons or so it seems on a certain day, and we struggle hard not give them a tongue-lashing, and succeed in keeping mute. When narrating such incident to another, one might say “I was so tempted to give such and such a piece of my mind, but I fought the urge.” That is resisting temptation.
The New Oxford American dictionary defines temptation as “a desire to do something, especially something wrong or unwise.”
As long as we are in the world as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we would be tempted. Temptations come in various ways but they are sure to come. Our Lord Jesus has not left us without a remedy in His Word though, thankfully. 🙂
We see various instances of temptation in the Bible, the responses to such and what consequences followed. These are written to serve as warnings to us so we can learn from them, as there is no respect of persons with God (1 Corinthians 10:11; Romans 2:11).
Temptation can come to individuals or a group of people.
Amongst those taken as captives from Judah to be trained to serve in the King’s palace in Babylon were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (Daniel 1:9-17). Temptation presented itself to these four in a foreign land.
Daniel purposing in his heart not to defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat shows he was mature enough to know that such food was prepared in a way that violated the law of his God. Perhaps, Daniel making this commitment encouraged his three friends to do the same, because the Bible did not make mention of them purposing such in their hearts. Our stand for truth can encourage others in the Christian race!
Also, Daniel 1:6 says “Now among these were of the children of Judah….” which implies there were others from Israel who gladly accepted the portion of the king’s meat; they might have felt it was ‘God-sent’. Not every open door is God’s open door!
Daniel’s commitment to God saw he and his friends through this temptation, as God always makes sure He provides a way of escape through a temptation. Honour towards God is rewarded back with honour from God (1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Samuel 2:30).
Your environment can influence some temptations you encounter. Peter might probably not have yielded to the temptation to deny Jesus, if he wasn’t in the company of those who didn’t acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. He was very vocal of his allegiance to the Lord Jesus in the company of other disciples, but was equally vocal in denying Jesus when he was confronted. Notice how sober and repentant he became at the crowing of the cock when the Lord Jesus looked at him and he realised what he had done (Luke 22:31-34, 54-62).
It may just be that some temptations you are facing right now, that you may not necessarily like, are resultant of the company you keep or the environment you are in. What are you going to do about it? Ask God for wisdom in faith on what to do and do it! (James 1:5-7)
THE SOURCE OF TEMPTATION
“Blessed (happy, to be envied) is the man who is patient under trial and stands up under temptation, for when he has stood the test and been approved, he will receive [the victor’s] crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him.
13 Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one.
14 But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions).
15 Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death.” James 1:12 -15 AMP
“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” Matthew 4:1 KJV
“And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.” Mark 1:13 KJV
From the above scriptures, it is evident that God is not the source of temptation.
It is also clear that the devil is the one who tempts, and yielding to such temptation leads to sin, which on maturity results in death.
The Greek word translated temptation in James 1:12 is “peirasmos” which has several meanings, amongst which is “a putting to proof.”Therefore enduring temptation is a way of finding out ‘of what stuff you are made up of spiritually’; what place God occupies in your life.
An examination of the several meanings of the Greek word “peirazō” translated tempted in James 1:13 and the context of the verse, shows the word “tempted” as used there, means an enticement to sin. God clearly does not entice people to sin, He cannot behold iniquity! (Habakkuk 1:13)
You might say, hang on, didn’t God tempt Abraham?
“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.” Genesis 22:1 KJV
Strong’s Hebrew and Greek dictionaries give the various meanings of “nâsâh”, which is the Hebrew word translated tempt in this verse, and it originates from a primitive root which means “to test.” From the Lord’s response to Abraham in Genesis 22:12, we see that God wanted to find out what place His Word occupied in Abraham’s life, i.e. proving him and not enticing him to sin.
Tests of God show how much reverence He has in our lives, and if we hold on to Him through those times and remain faithful, we will emerge as “gold” (Job 23:10; 1 Peter 1:7).
Even Jesus had to be equipped through the things He suffered to become the author and source of salvation to all who would yield to Him (Hebrews 5:8).
PRINCIPLES OF TEMPTATION
Temptation occurs because we are in the world.
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” 1 John 2:15-17 KJV
The three principles of temptation are the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life i.e. they are the three broad categories that temptations fall under (all temptations are in rooted one or more of these).
The Amplified bible and Easy-to read version, give definitions for these principles of temptation namely:
- The Lust of the flesh: Craving for sensual gratification i.e. wanting to please our sinful selves.
- The lust of the eyes: Greedy longings of the mind i.e. wanting the sinful things we see.
- The pride of life: An assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things i.e. being too proud of what we have.
The devil tempted Eve (Genesis 3:1-6) when he got into a conversation with her regarding the Word of God. What business did she have discussing the Word of God with a hater of God?!
Satan got questioning Eve about what God had said and when he locked her in conversation, he began telling her lies; after all he is the father of it (John 8:44). Of the numerous species of fruit bearing trees in the garden, the devil managed to get her focused on the only one God forbad man from eating.
Our moments of despair tend to originate from the times we focus our attention on ‘what God has not done for us’ rather than the numerous things He has. To be able to breathe naturally is a gift for example, without the aid of breathing machines some in hospitals have to rely on for survival. THANK YOU JESUS FOR EVERYTHING!
Anytime a doubt comes to your mind in relation to the truth Word of God, it is the devil because that is the way he works. The temptation of Eve in the garden was from the same principles as the temptation of the Lord Jesus in the wilderness.
The devil will tempt you when you are in an environment of abundance and rest like Eve in Eden, or when barren circumstances surround you like Jesus in the wilderness.
Eve did not stand on the Word of God given via Adam but allowed herself to be coerced by the enemy to believe his doubt. The Lord Jesus on the other hand resisted every questioning of the Word with what the scripture says, applied correctly in context.
The devil’s temptation to Eve (Genesis 3:1-5 AMP):
When Satan got Eve to doubt God’s Word in her mind, he led her into temptation. He offered her
- the lust of the eye “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened”;
- the lust of the flesh “You shall not surely die”;
- and the pride of life “you will be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil and blessing and calamity.”
But Eve was already ‘like God’, she was made in His image (Genesis 1:27). She didn’t need anything the devil offered her!
If only she didn’t let the devil get into her mind by getting in a conversation with him in the first place, she would have realised that God had already provided her with all she needed. She survived all this while without all these things the devil was offering her now, didn’t she?
The devil succeeded in getting her take focus off her Father God, her Maker and Source by obscuring His character as a Father who would gladly give gifts to His children when they ask Him (Matthew 7:7-11).
Eve’s response (Genesis 3:6): She
- “saw that the tree was good (suitable, pleasant) for food” – lust of the flesh
- “that it was delightful to look at” – lust of the eye
- and “a tree to be desired in order to make one wise” – pride of life.
Notice the parallels in Eve’s temptation in the Garden of Eden with Jesus’ in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). Eve entertained the devil in a conversation whilst Jesus promptly gave him back God’s Word, not entertaining the “opinion” of the devil on the Word of God.
The devil’s temptation to Jesus:
The devil offered him the
- Lust of the flesh “If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. “
- The lust of the eye “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.”
- Pride of life “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.”
Jesus’ response to each was based on the Word of God, applied correctly in context.
Jesus’ antidote to the lust of the flesh:
“But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”Mathew 4:4
Jesus’ antidote to the lust of the eyes:
“Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Matthew 4:10
Jesus’s antidote to the temptation of the pride of Life:
“Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” Matthew 4:7
The devil was always challenging who the person of the Lord Jesus was. “If thou be the son of God.” When he couldn’t get the Lord Jesus to loose focus of His identity, he “went for the kill” by outrightly asking Jesus to give him reverence that only the Father deserves (Luke 4:1-13).
It is vital we know our identity in Christ, then we would not be moved to ‘prove’ anything to anyone, the devil inclusive about who we are. Eve was made in the image of God but a conversation with the devil created doubt in her mind regarding God’s Word, made her lose sight of that and she fell into the temptation of wanting to be like God.
Jesus is the Son of God, and didn’t have to prove it by succumbing to the taunts of the enemy.
Spend time in finding out who you are in Christ, it is what would give you the most security in life and the healthiest source of self-esteem, which no cheap taunts of individuals or the enemy can change.
The book “In Him” by Kenneth E Hagin is highly recommended to serve as a start guide, along with your Bible.
Temptation can be overcome by
- Relying on our Faithful high priest, the Lord Jesus Christ (the Living Word) via the written Word in the Bible to see us through.
“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16
“But clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah), and make no provision for [indulging] the flesh [put a stop to thinking about the evil cravings of your physical nature] to [gratify its] desires (lusts).” Romans 13:14 AMP
The Lord Jesus Christ never fell into sin although He underwent all the temptations we have and would ever go through. He therefore understands because He was there. Sometimes knowing that someone is just there, or finding out someone has gone through what we are going through spurs us on to strive for a better outcome in the situations we face.
There is no temptation that would come your way that is beyond your power to overcome it because God always provides an escape route (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Ensuring our minds are renewed with the Word of God would enable us overcome temptation, just like the Lord Jesus refuted the devil’s temptation in the wilderness with the Word (Romans 12:2).
In James 4:7, submission to God comes before resisting the devil. It is no mistake, submission to God is what empowers you with the ability to resist the devil. Submission to God is expressed by your sticking to His Word, as love for God is expressed by an adherence to His Word (John 14:15; 15:10; Daniel 9:4; James 4:4)
Putting on the whole armour of God as outlined in Ephesians 6:10-17 is what enables one to successfully withstand all the strategies and deceits of the devil, which includes temptation. Putting on the armour of God is another way of being clothed with Christ (Isaiah 59:16-17).
The Word of God enjoins us to pray that we don’t enter temptation (Luke 22:40,46; James 5:13).
What follows shortly after being clothed with the armour of God in Ephesians 6, the Bible says in verse 18 AMP is “Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people).”
Prayer is vital! Not yielding to temptation produces life forever (1 John 2:17).
Remember, God is faithful that He will not allow you to be tempted above what you can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). You do not have to fall into temptation.
God bless you 🙂
© Lydia for PneumaWord