Temptations And Victory Over Them
Satan is strong, cunning and deceptive. He has been allowed the power to tempt mankind. In Matthew 4:3 Satan is referred to as "the tempter." "And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." (Matthew 4:3) Peter wrote, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." (1 Peter 5:8) Presently Satan is seeking whom he may devour through some kind of temptation. The good news is that the Devil can be resisted. We are told, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7) We are not forced to yield to temptation.
The person is truly happy and blessed who is patient under trials and stands up under temptation. God does not remove temptation but He does provide Christians with a way of escape. "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." (1 Corinthians 10:12-13) There can be victory for the Christian over temptations. Temptations appeal to our every motive. We are told, "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)
Lust is illicit, unlawful or forbidden desire. Lust as used in 1 John 2:15-17 refers to the desire for things that are contrary to the will of God. The "lust of the flesh" often refers to unlawful sexual desire, that which would lead to fornication. Lust of the flesh could also involve lusting after money, power, pleasure, or nearly anything else on earth. Whatever we lust after to gratify the flesh is what is forbidden in 1 John 2.
The "lust of the eyes" refers to what we want to see. The eyes enjoy things of beauty, or riches, and when we lust after those things it is the lust of the eyes. The Christian must constantly strive to live for God. When we turn our hearts to the world our desires are for the things which the world offers. We are then guilty of the "lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes." If we want to impress God, it is humility that impresses Him. Pride gets between us and God and without realizing it we actually shut God out of our lives. “Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” (Isaiah 66:1-2)
Christians have victory over temptation through prayer: As a child of God you are encouraged to come boldly before God's throne in prayer to ask for strength in dealing with the Devil. "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16) Let us all keep ourselves awake, giving strict attention as we watch and pray to avoid temptation. "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:41) There is a way to overcome temptation. Let us pray that we will have the wisdom to recognize that overcoming way and the courage to walk in it.
Christians have victory over temptation through humbleness of heart: Self-righteousness should never find place in our lives. The self-righteous can see everyone's weaknesses and sins but their own. They are everywhere, trying to control our lives. With zeal they freely peddle their negative judgments on the behavior and opinions of others. Unable or unwilling to control themselves and their unhappy lives of frustration, insecurity, and despair, these people find solace in desperately attempting to control and destroy others. They are filled with pride. "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." (Proverbs 16:18) Those who are so full of pride, who feel they will never fall, must beware. "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall." (1 Corinthians 10:12) God sets himself against the proud and haughty heart which say, "I will never do that."
Christians have victory over temptation through watching: The warning word of the Bible is "watch." "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:41) Peter warns Christians to be alert and ever watchful for attacks by Satan. Remember the words, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." (1 Peter 5:8) With sober-minded determination Christians must be on guard against the one who, in fierce hunger, is set on their destruction. "Watch and pray; the tempter may be near us; Keep the heart with jealous care, Lest the door, a moment left unguarded, Evil thoughts may enter there."
Christians have victory over temptation through resisting: Christians should put on the whole armor of God and give the Devil a fight. "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints." (Ephesians 6:10-18) God explains that Christians are to resist the Devil steadfastly. "Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world." (1 Peter 5:9) The Devil is real. Withstand him. Get yourself rooted in the faith so Satan will not shake you.
Each of us is challenged to become a Christian and to overcome temptation. To become a Christian you must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of all sins (2 Peter 3:9), confess Jesus as Lord (Acts 8:37), and be baptized to wash away sins. (Acts 22:16) After becoming a Christian it is then time to "Stand" and fight the Devil. This is accomplished only through God's help. "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, 306 Walnut Street, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA