Temptations. We all face them. Even Jesus faced His share of temptation. Throughout the Bible, we see people give in to temptation and others who remain strong. We see the repercussions of sin as well as the rewards for saying no to it. As Christians, we know and understand fully that sin is never good for us. It’s always better to say no to temptation. But unfortunately the enemy likes to deceive us into thinking otherwise.
The Bible has quite a bit to say about sin and temptation. Here are four biblical truths:
- If left unchecked, temptation can lead us into a trap which ultimately leads to ruin.
Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. – 1 Timothy 6:9 (NIV)
- God never tempts His children.
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin;and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. – James 1:13-15 (NIV)
- God always provides a way out of temptation.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10;13 (NIV)
- Jesus understands temptation and promises to help us endure.
For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. – Hebrews 2:17-18 (NIV)
When we think of temptation, we often associate it with “big” sins like adultery, cheating, lying, etc. But the enemy is more sly than that. He’s not going to tempt you to steal a car if you’ve never stolen anything in your life. So by its very definition, it wouldn’t be a temptation at all. Real temptations are designed to entice you in some way. And the enemy likes to personalize his attacks.
Temptations are enticing because they promise us something we feel we are currently lacking.
I feel hurt and frustrated… so I’m tempted to lash out and hurt others.
I’m feeling insecure about myself… so I am tempted to pick apart those around me.
I’m angry and offended… so I decide to hold a grudge and not forgive.
I feel overwhelmed and tired… so I begin to grow resentful and easily agitated.
I’m suffering through trials… so I begin to doubt God’s faithfulness.
Do you notice a trend? All of these temptations are subtle, almost unrecognizable as temptations. And they are easily justifiable. (I’m entitled to feel this way – right?) Every one of these temptations deals with our feelings and emotions. The enemy plays to our weaknesses; and while emotions like sadness, anger and frustration are normal, the enemy often sees them as open doors. He plays to our feelings of lack. Maybe we are experiencing a lack peace, joy, contentment, etc. And somehow, some way we will feel better if we take matters into our own hands.
So how do we deal with these temptations? The same way Jesus did. His feelings and emotions were justifiable in the wilderness. After all, it’s only natural that the enemy would tempt Him with food while He was fasting for 40 days. But He didn’t give in. And rather than simply say no, He chose to declare the truth. He turned his temptations into an opportunity to build spiritual strength.
When we declare the truth, the enemy’s lies lose their power.
Here’s the truth: You lack nothing in Jesus. Don’t allow the enemy to lie to you and convince you that he has something you need. It is God who sustains you and meets your needs. You have the mind of Christ. With God on your side, there is nothing to fear. And you can say no to every temptation by the power of the Holy Spirit.
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