Temptation is an inducement to sin. The source of all enticements to get a person to sin is Satan. Never can it be said that God ever has, or ever will, tempt an individual to sin.James stated, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone” (Jas. 1:13). Satan is referred to as the “tempter” in Matthew 4:3. The temptation of Adam and Eve is expressly recognized as the work of the devil (Gen. 3:1-15; Jn. 8:44; 2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Jn. 3:8). He tempted Jesus in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11). He successfully induced Ananias and Sapphira to lie to the Holy Spirit in Acts 5:1-11.

In tempting man, Satan appeals to “the lust of the flesh,” “the lust of the eyes,” and “the pride of life” (1 Jn. 2:16). When we stop and think about it, most any temptation to sin

would come under one of these headings. In the very beginning, Eve “saw that the tree was good for food” (lust of the flesh), that it was pleasant to the eyes (lust of the eyes), and a tree desirable to make one wise” (pride of life)— she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate” (Gen. 3:6 — insertions and emphasis mine, rje).

Temptations may reveal our weaknesses, try our faith, promote our humility, and cause us to recognize our dependence upon God. Remember, being tempted is not a sin; it is sin when we yield to temptation. The world usually views those who seek to resist temptation and please God as “weak” individuals. But the opposite is true! C.S. Lewis expressed some good thoughts concerning temptation as follows: “No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in.” (MERE CHRISTIANITY, C.S. Lewis, pp. 124-125)

Giving in to temptation results in awful consequences—beginning with sin. Resisting temptation builds character.James said, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (Jas. 4:7). To “resist” him involves an attack on his part. The Apostle Paul, in Ephesians 6:10-18, describes at length the weapons with which we are to use in successfully overcoming his attack. Although the devil is “like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8), we can put him to flight— “he will flee from you” (Jas. 4:7). Also, we must remember that friendship with the world is like being a friend of the devil. James has warned— “Adulterers and adulteresses!Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (Jas. 4:4).

After warning against pride, and the possibility of falling, the Apostle Paul gives encouragement to us when we are confronted with temptation. “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 Cor. 10:13). Again, God is not, and cannot be the tempter (Jas. 1:13-14). But He does have control over temptation that we not be “tempted beyond what you are able” and provides “the way of escape”. In finding the way of escape, may we always look to Christ our Savior—the perfect example, who never sinned. When the devil tempted Him to sin while in the wilderness, each time, Jesus overcame the temptation by referring to the Word of God— “it is written” (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10).

by R.J. Evans

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