“If I were your enemy, I’d tempt you toward certain sins, making you believe they are basically (even biologically) unavoidable. I’d study your tendencies and proclivities till I learned the precise conditions that make you the most likely to indulge them. And then I’d strike right there. Again and again, wear you down. Because if I can’t separate you from God forever, I can at least set you at odds with Him for the time being.” (Shirer)
Can you think of a Bible character that struggled with temptation? When I asked the question of my class they all said unanimously– Sampson. Boy, did he have a weakness and it caused him to lose everything.
Watching temptation in kids is plain when you see that they are drawn to things that they don’t necessarily need. You can see the luster in their eyes as they reach forth with their hand to grab whatever has caught their attention. They are so fixated on the sweet treat before them. They can’t see behind the hand holding the desire – – “the impending enemy, danger, or stranger.” And we adults have the same trouble- the camouflage may seem some better but the desire, weakness, and temptation is still there and just as tempting.
The enemy has this PhD in human temptation he knows our vulnerabilities and he’s been practicing ever since he tripped up Grandma Eve.
Take a look at a biblical account of the enemy’s work and his tactics. Check out Matthew 4.
This account is of Jesus being tempted three times of Satan. Yes, even Jesus endured the intense struggle with the flesh. The enemy sought to exploit him.
In the scripture this story appears chronologically after Jesus was baptized. Baptism is a public and outward profession of the change in our heart. Satan wants to jump right on the band wagon early- so right after salvation or baptism a person may feel an on slot of trouble or stress in their life. That’s the first thing he wants to do is cast doubt in your life.
Next fact to notice- Jesus had just fasted in prayer for 40 days and nights. This fasting was so recent that he’d not had time to get a bite to eat. Even by today’s standards you would be hangry, super-duper hungry, tired, grumpy, frumpy, and otherwise no fun to be around.
Notice also, Jesus was keeping a close communication with the father. That didn’t matter to the enemy. Even when we are serving and talking to the Lord daily, Satan still seeks to sift us and find our weaknesses.
Do you think that it was by accident that the enemy used bread to tempt Jesus? He appealed to his stomach- first temptation. Have you ever heard anyone say they don’t like bread? Warm buttery rolls that melt in your mouth. It is for that reason my son used to sneak them and hide them in his pockets. The enemy didn’t tempt Jesus with broccoli or a piece of raw meat. They are equally good options. But fresh baked warm bread- yum. Jesus showed super self-control, he could have turned the stones to bread- but he’s not a circus act and he doesn’t do tricks on demand.
Notice the enemy asks him, “If thou be the Son of God?”… Do you think that the enemy did not know to whom he was speaking to? Why would he waste his time offering the whole of the world if he wasn’t the Son on God?
The second round he wanted him to jump off of the pinnacle. He wanted Jesus to deviate from God’s script- to flaunt and use his divinity for show. Jesus showed great self-restraint in not giving in to the enemy thwarting him. The enemy is going on like a testy child, asking questions, demanding answers and action. Christ did not give in or detour from his path.
He doesn’t ask on the third round if he is the Son of God. He works with the assumption that we all know that truth and then he offers him the world. Why does that sound so silly? Because God is a triune being and the three parts are also one. Jesus was there at creation- and the world already belongs to him. Satan even went so far as to quote scripture at him to throw him off. Jesus is the word- he knows all the words. Jesus didn’t even give him the time of day- he sent him away packing.
Is it any coincidence that certain things tempt you and that they are a constant struggle? Secondly, what may be a lure for you isn’t necessarily a lure for me?
The problem with temptation is that it threatens your purity. Temptation isn’t a sin—giving in to the temptation and following it down that road is however. We aren’t only considering physical temptations like adultery, fornication, and homosexuality. There are other temptations people deal with like lying, stealing, jealously, or putting things before God.
We are indeed also relating this to our spiritual purity. Some things that compromise our spiritual purity in our lives could be certain friendships, movies, music, lies, gossip, pride, greed and we could keep on going. Make no mistake sin has consequences it takes us farther than we wanted or intended to go from God. In order to keep our place with God we must strive to be obedient.
Impurity will weaken, dull your prayer life- our spiritual armor begins to feel and look like a child’s toy. We get a double minded and completely unstable.
Sin separates us from God –this is elementary, right? That is why need his salvation in our life. And also why we need his forgiveness even after salvation.
The evil one knows that the effectual fervent prayer availeth much- he doesn’t want us walking close to God, having a relationship with him, praying or living blessed.
God has called us to purity- our prayer deflects the enemy and so does our purity. If you are free from that bondage that now holds you from the temptation – then you can encourage one another, you are a more effective witness, you can make a real difference for the Lord in your daily life.
It won’t be easy. Paul said that we struggle with doing the very things that we dislike in our lives. It is battle with our flesh. God knows this. (Romans 7:14-16) God’s discipline is meant to correct and bring you closer to him—not to scold or criticize you.
Purity leads us to fervent prayer and fervent prayer leads you to purity.
Write down your struggles: Call them out of darkness:
Purity doesn’t mean you are perfect- Purity is about redemption.
God knows you can’t overcome temptation on your own. He plans to help you as you yield to him in prayer and allow him to work- he will build your strength and righteousness.
“ There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” I Corinthians 10:13
Be obedient. Strategize your obedience- diligently as the enemy formulates temptations.
How can you fight him when he’s waged war against us?
- Be obedient to God’s word.
- Stay away from the temptation.
- If you can’t stay away- look away.
- Pray for strength and wisdom.
- Know the scriptures- pray the verses in your prayer time.
- Have an accountability partner-someone to pray for you and with you.
Get in the word!