- Temptation Is A Person’s Strong Inner Desire To Participate In An Activity Or Habit That Will Impact Life And Perhaps Prove Destructive In The Long Run. No One Is Immune, Including Christians. Temptation Can Be Overcome, But First Believers Must Recognize That It Exists So They Can Learn How To Resist It.
Christians sometimes have naïve assumptions about temptation. Some think it will be obvious, but temptations are subtle and nuanced. Satan delights in taking us by surprise. Some think God tempts people, but God never tempts anyone to sin. If He did, that would be contrary to His holy nature and to His desire to sanctify His children: “for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:16).
Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” This is a simple petition — asking God to not allow or permit us to be tempted to sin. The word “temptation” can also refer to trials, and Christians can rightly ask for deliverance; from suffering. Jesus also said to pray, “deliver us from evil.” Some scholars say it means “from the evil one.” We cannot, as humans, resist the devil in our own strength; that is why we must submit to Christ, our Deliverer, first.
Satan, the great tempter, masquerades as an angel of light. He is subtle and tricky. The Bible says Satan prowls like a hungry lion, seeking to devour ;his prey. Comedian Clerow “Flip” Wilson popularized the phrase, “The devil made me do it.” Those words make us laugh, but they really are an attempt to justify sin. The devil, our deceitful adversary, can indeed tempt us, but he cannot force anyone to sin — he cannot violate human free will.
As the terrible “serpent,” Satan enticed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They yielded to Satan’s deception and disobeyed God. From that point on, the devil has continued to prey on people and get footholds in their lives. Those thinking they are above temptation should take heed of Paul’s warning about pride: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
Temptation itself is not sin, but giving in to temptation is sin — even in our minds or viewed as a private sin of the heart. When we give in to temptations, they take root and defile us. There are ;many kinds of temptation that lead to sins of commission or omission. Christian radio host Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth said, “Anytime we receive input that doesn’t :match the Word of God, we need to realize that Satan is trying to deceive and destroy us. That’s why we need to know what the Bible says.”
Are Trials and Temptations the Same Thing?
James 1:12-13 presents two terms: “trial” — sometimes translated “test” — and “tempted.” Though somewhat related, they are not the same thing. Temptation, as noted above, does not come from God. “Falling into temptation” occurs when we ;are beguiled by Satan, enticed by the world, or taken captive by our own wicked desires.
Conversely, trials or tests do come from God to prove our faith and produce perseverance. Trials are sent to mature us spiritually. Sometimes we don’t develop strong character; until we respond in biblical ways to life’s trials. Our faithfulness will be rewarded with the “crown of life.” Joni Eareckson Tada noted, “A trial is not just an assault to be withstood, it is an opportunity to be seized.”
There’s an old adage: “Satan tempts us to make us worse; God tests us to make us better.” Tada wrote about the relationship between; temptations and trials. “When we fail a God-given trial, when we resist the grace He gives to persevere and obey, we miss the God-given opportunity to have our faith refined,” she said. “At that point, a failed trial can turn into a temptation when we are enticed to go our own way, seek our own desires, or even grumble or complain.” Remember this: God never intends for our trials to escalate into temptations.
What Does the Bible Say about Temptation?
Here are some insightful Scriptures about temptation.
1 Corinthians 10:13a says temptation is “common” to everyone. In Romans 7:19-21, Paul wrote about his personal struggle with temptation, saying, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.”
It’s foolish to play with fire when it comes to temptation. Thankfully, our merciful God has provided “a way of escape” (1 Corinthians 10:13b). Jesus told us to “watch and pray” so we won’t “enter into” or become a part of temptation (Matthew 26:41). James explained that submission to God and pushing back against the devil is one way to be delivered from temptation (James 4:7). Satan will try to outwit us, but we must never give into his schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11) or allow him a foothold — an “opportunity” — in our lives (Ephesians 4:27).
Jesus can help us when we face the Tempter. Hebrews 2:18, reminding us of the temptation of Jesus, says: “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Jesus can sympathize with our weaknesses because He was tempted in every way, “yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). The apostle Paul described the pieces of armor that God provides to believers to stand against Satan’s schemes (Ephesians 6:11).
Where Do We See People Being Tempted in Scripture?
We’ve already considered the temptation of Christ. Satan tempted Jesus with three big temptations that come “from the world” (1 John 2:16): the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Jesus overcame them using the Word of God.
Often, temptations are little compromises that cause huge problems, but with Adam and Eve, the consequences were vast and enormous. They yielded to temptation and sin entered the world. Joseph was tempted by Potiphar’s wife, but he saw the true source of the temptation and stood firmly against it. Job faced many trials and temptations, and perhaps his biggest temptation came from his wife who encouraged him to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9). Yet Job retained his integrity and remained faithful to God throughout his ordeal.
Daniel was threatened with death in the lion’s den if he prayed to anyone other than King Darius; but he stood with courage and extraordinary faith. Daniel’s friends — Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego — were likewise threatened. If they did not worship the image of gold commissioned by Nebuchadnezzar, they would be thrown into a fiery furnace. Like Daniel, they stood faithful.
David was incited by Satan to take a census of Israel — something the Lord did not allow. He proudly gave in to the temptation, disobeying God. David also succumbed to temptation concerning Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). Among many other examples in the Old Testament, there was also Esau, who “despised his birthright;” and Sampson, who gave in to the temptress Delilah.
Jesus said Satan would sift Peter “like wheat.” Peter gave in to temptation by denying Christ — but the Lord prayed for him, ensuring His disciple’s lasting faith and ministry. Ananias and Sapphira sold property, but then yielded to the temptation of pride in lying about the sale and their offering. Paul said Satan gave him a “thorn” in his flesh to torment him. It was meant to keep him from becoming conceited — Paul’s temptation since he had great revelations from God.
How Does Temptation Work in Us?
Satan’s goal is to ruin us and destroy our intimacy with God. No temptation is trivial. James 1:13-15 explains that everyone is tempted when “dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” After that desire has “conceived,” it “gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
Marshall Segal expertly explained how temptation works in “Temptation is No Simple Enemy.” He wrote, “Temptation will please you to abuse you, seduce you to undo you, distract you to destroy you.” First, Segal said, temptation leads with pleasure. “Before temptation can betray us to destruction, it must woo us with some promise of satisfaction.”
Then temptation heaps on shame. “If sin cannot lure us with pleasure, it will assault us with shame,” Segal said. Satan is our constant accuser, and our shame and self-pity are “Satan’s food,” Segal said.
Finally, temptation wears us out! “Temptation is rarely a single arrow to be avoided,” Segal said, “but far more often a wide and prolonged wave of warfare meant to wear us down until we surrender.”
How Does the Bible Say Christians Should Respond to Temptation?
How do we respond to temptation? These are the basics.
1. Fight Temptation with the Word of God
The Word of God is meant to be our method of defeating Satan’s schemes. It helps us resist conformity to the world and embrace transformation. Paul tells us the Word of God is “the sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17). Dr. David Jeremiah wrote, “The Bible is the armory in which the swords can be found.” He encourages Christians to “keep going through the armory.” Why? “You’re gonna find swords where you thought there weren’t any,” he said, “and they might just be the thing God wants you to have to defeat the enemy.”
2. Run from Temptation
Although the Bible does not tell us to run from many things, it does tell us to flee from sexual temptations. “The Bible tells us the best equipment for getting out of that situation is the best pair of Adidas money can buy,” Dr. Jeremiah wrote. “Just get out of there.” Avoid tempting situations and do not hang out with wicked people” (Proverbs 4:14-15).
3. Pray When Tempted
Jesus said to “keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the- spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Ask the Holy Spirit for help, guidance, protection and strength. Be honest with God about the temptations you’re facing, and how you struggle. Confess sin and ask God to help you become an overcomer.
4. Consider the Consequences
Satan doesn’t want us to think about consequences when we’re in the throes of temptation. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the ugliness of sin — to show the end point of the attractive temptation.
5. Cultivate Godliness.
It’s not enough say “no” to ungodliness; we need to turn Godward. We need to clothe ourselves in Christ and His holiness, so we will not gratify our fleshly desires.
6. Focus on the Eternal Perspective.
Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” We do this by filling our thoughts with the holiness of God and the love .of Jesus. When bombarded 🌹 temptations, remember you are not your own and you are accountable to God.
7. Visualize Doing the Right Thing.
We should do this even before temptations come, but when faced with temptations, it is powerful to remember who we are in Christ and that we are called to holiness. Dr. Charles Stanley wrote, “when temptation comes, I’m going to do the right thing. That’s who I am. That’s my way of life.”
8. Seek Help from Others.
Be transparent not only before God, but to others.
When it comes to battling temptation, by all means, don’t give up! The rewards of integrity and holiness are more than worth your efforts.
A Prayer for When We Feel Tempted to Sin-
It is so hard to fight against temptations. The devil bombards us constantly, the world offers entertainment that draws us away from You, and we struggle ;with ungodly passions in our hearts. Teach us how to wisely and effectively use Your Word against Satan’s strategies. Help us keep our eyes on Jesus. Give us a greater desire to be holy. Thank you that Jesus conquered sin and Satan, and gives us power to stand against the enemy.
God bless you.