Temptation is a problem for most Christians. Temptation by itself isn’t a sin, but when we succumb to temptation we start down the slippery slope to all out rebellion and defiance of God. The temptations of this life go back a long way…back to the Garden of Eden.
Every temptation we face has its foundation in the lies of Satan. When we give in and allow the temptation to become action, that’s when we leave the narrow path our Lord lays before us.
“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: but every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished bringeth forth death.” James 1:13-15.
That first sin, which occurred in the Garden of Eden, brought death to the entire world. God had made it clear to Adam that eating of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil would bring death, but when Eve chatted with Satan and temptation was put before her she chose to believe Satan’s lies rather than God’s truth. She ate the fruit and Adam chose to follow her in sin. Satan uses the same lies he used all those years ago and they still work. He confuses us, he causes us to question God by twisting His word, and he appeals to our carnal desires. Temptation to sin doesn’t come from God, but Satan wants you to fail. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7.It may not be easy to resist temptation, but with God’s help you can.
Solomon said that there’s nothing new under the sun, and so it is with Satan’s tactics. What he used on Eve worked, so he still uses the same ruse to entice us into sin. John described worldly lust in a threefold way.
“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 2:16-17.
When we are facing temptation it’s hard to remember the bigger picture of God’s perfect plan. Christians need to remember that our eternal life is through Jesus Christ and this mortal life we live needs to honor Him. Lust begins when we look at a temptation rather than looking away. When you’re tempted to compromise God’s truth, make a God-honoring decision and turn away. Don’t put yourself in situations where the temptation to sin will move from lust of the eyes to sin.
Pride will always be a precursor to sin. Do you feel as if you’re being taken advantage of at work? Don’t allow pride to cause you to gossip or slack off on your responsibilities. Are you tempted into a sexual relationship that is outside of a one man/one woman marriage? Don’t let Satan’s lies convince you that it’s alright with God. If you keep your heart tuned to Jesus you will find it’s easier to resist temptation. Before you know it resisting will become a habit and Satan will leave you alone. Well, he won’t leave you entirely alone but will find new ways to attack. Resist him.
Pride was the root of Satan’s fall and he is still filled with it. He even tried to tempt Jesus using the same tactics he uses on us. Jesus had been fasting in the wilderness prior to beginning His ministry on earth. Satan first appealed to His physical need by challenging Him to turn stones into bread (Matthew 4:3), then he challenged Jesus’ pride by challenging Him to prove He was God by jumping off the temple so the angels would save Him (Matthew 4:6), and finally Satan tempted Him to bypass the cross by offering Him the kingdoms of the world in exchange for Jesus worshipping that liar (Matthew 4:9).
Satan twisted God’s word in offering these temptations, but Jesus could not be manipulated. He answered each challenge by using Scripture without twisting it. Satan didn’t have a chance. Jesus is our example. Sin is dark and ugly, but following Jesus will keep you walking in the Light.
“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12.
To stay in His light we need to study Scripture and write it upon our hearts. Then when Satan comes at us with lies we will be able to stand strong. We can easily recall God’s truth and resist Satan’s false offers. That takes effort on our part. Instead of watching television, which is filled with the ugliness of the sin Satan promotes, pick up your Bible and study. Instead of filling your mind with the filth being spewed on the latest sit-com, talk show, or soap opera (which all promote homosexuality, adultery, and demean people) turn to God. Learn His truth, walk in His light, and resist the temptation to sin.
Don’t allow yourself to be so prideful as to think that you’re immune to falling into temptation and sin. Christians are targeted by Satan to fail in our walk of faith because our failures make Jesus look bad in the eyes of the world. A non-believer doesn’t resist temptations because they have no moral standard to use as a guide. A Christian, on the other hand, has Scripture to guide our choices.
“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 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.” 1 Corinthians 10:12-13.
Scripture is filled with examples of people who faced temptations and either gave in to the temptation or rose above it. King David gave in to temptation when Bathsheba tempted him. When confronted with his sin he brokenheartedly went to God for forgiveness. On the other hand, Queen Esther faced the temptation of protecting her own life and keeping silent or taking information to the king, her husband, that would save the Jewish people. The king could have had her killed for speaking to him without being summoned. Esther didn’t give in to fear or the temptation to hide. We face similar choices every day.
The question must be asked: What do we gain by resisting temptation and not giving in? Christians are sealed with the Holy Spirit when we truly accept Christ for salvation and our past, present, and future sins are forgiven, so why not sin, ask forgiveness, and move on. That’s not the attitude of a person who has truly accepted Christ. If your desire hasn’t changed from pleasing the world to pleasing the One who died for your sin then maybe you need to re-examine yourself to be sure you have truly accepted Him for salvation.
Do you truly understand the price that Jesus paid for you to be forgiven? The price was enormous, but His love for us wouldn’t allow Him to turn away from the cross. Your love for Him shouldn’t allow you to turn away from Him. The temptation to sin tempts every Christian and many Christian’s around the world even face death because of their faith. Faithfulness to God will be rewarded.
“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Revelation 2:10.
Jesus dictated this letter to John to be sent to the ekklēsia (the Christians) in Smyrna. Persecution of Christians has been around since those first men in Jerusalem professed their faith, and it would only get worse. Those who endure and remain faithful to Christ will be rewarded. Many Christians throughout the world face death today because of their faith, but we who still have freedom to openly follow Christ deny Him by falling prey to Satan’s lies and giving in to the lust of the flesh. Your resistance to Satan’s temptations in the name of Jesus may be the example a non-believer needs to make the decision to accept Christ for salvation. Your resistance might also be the example of strength that a fellow Christian needs to also resist his own temptations.
There is a reward for resisting all temptation. You will receive the crown of life.
“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” James 1:12.
You’ll want to earn as many crowns as you can for when you stand before Jesus at the Bema Seat Judgment. That’s when the way we lived out our faith will matter.
“If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved: yet so as by fire.” 1 Corinthians 3:14-15.
Salvation is by faith but crown’s are based on works. On that glorious day you will want a crown. That means when you’re tempted to sin you turn away from the temptation because you know that’s what Jesus wants from you. You will want to cast that crown of life at Jesus’ feet in gratitude for what He did for you.
Look to Jesus for an example to follow and to the Holy Spirit for strength to resist all temptation. Earn that Crown of life.