When Jesus was teaching His disciples how to pray, He said, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.”(Matthew 6: 13). It is easy to see why we need to pray such a prayer when we are aware of the danger of temptation. Temptation is that bridge over which we cross to sin. Inasmuch as the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), temptation cannot be taken lightly. "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (First Corinthians 10: 12).
Source Of Temptation
From whence comes temptation? James wrote, “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 full grown bringeth forth death.” (James 1:13-15). Satan is the one who tempts (First Corinthians 7:5). By appealing to the baser nature of man and his weaknesses, Satan leads man to sin and ruin.
Three Avenues Of Temptation
"For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world.” (First John 2: 16). Satan used these three avenues to tempt Eve. He called her attention to the fruit and suggested it was good to eat. This appealed to the flesh. He pointed out how good it looked. This was an appeal to the lust of the eye. He told her how it would make her as gods. This was an appeal to her pride.
Basically, these are the avenues Satan used in his attempt to get Jesus to sin. He appealed to the flesh by suggesting He turn the stones to bread. He used the appeal of the eye by taking Him to see the whole world and offering it to Him. He appealed to pride by taking Him to the top of the temple and telling Him He could cast Himself down and the angels would not allow His foot to be dashed against a stone.
Friend, these are the ways Satan attempts to get you and me to sin. If you will take the time to consider each temptation you face you will see that each of them can be placed in one of these three categories.
Curse Or Blessing?
Temptation can be a curse or a blessing. It is intended to be a curse upon us. If we yield to temptation and sin it is a curse. But if we take advantage of the deliverance from temptation, we can grow stronger in spite of temptation because we resisted temptation. James 1:12, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he is tried, he shal1 receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”
Ways to Escape Temptation's Power
God will provide a way of escape.“There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able to bear, but will with the temptation make also the way of escape that ye may be able to endure it.” (First Corinthians 10: 13). Many times our trouble stems from our unwillingness to go the way of escape that God has provided, seeking rather some other way. We now want to take a brief look at some of the ways God has provided that we, like many who have gone before us, have successfully battled temptation.
By The Word Of God
Psalm 119:11, "Thy word have I laid up in my heart that I might not sin against thee.” A knowledge of God's Word is a great preventive to sin as well as information regarding its cure. When Christ was tempted of Satan He quoted from the Scriptures repeatedly to put Satan to flight. When one knows what is right, he can more easily detect the wrong and avoid it. For this reason, we must become thoroughly informed in the Word.
Watch And Pray
"Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation.” (Matthew 26:41). When we are alert and aware of the Devil's ways we will not be so likely to fall victim. It is significant to me that men of God in ages past when tempted, resorted to prayer. When Nehemiah was tried while building the walls of Jerusalem, and pressures came from various quarters to get him to quit, he went to God in prayer (Nehemiah 1:4-11; 2:4; 4:1-5,8,9; 6:9). When Daniel was commanded to discontinue his prayer, as had been his custom, the very thing that he did was to be to his window facing Jerusalem and pray (Daniel 6: 10). Paul and Silas in prison for preaching the gospel, lifted up their voices in singing and prayer (Acts 16:25) .So it was in many instances through the centuries. Taking advantage of the avenue that God has provided, we are able to withstand the temptations of Satan.
Purpose In Heart
Many times temptation can be drained of its power because we have already made up our minds that we will not sin against God and our fellowman. James wrote, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7). When Daniel was confronted with the decision to either eat that which had been set before him that would have defiled him or stand firm and be obedient to God, Daniel 1:8 tells us, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank.” We can fight the onslaughts of the devil if we have control over our own determination.
There Is A Time To Run
"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, flee from idolatry.” (First Corinthians 10: 14). After Paul had listed a number of ungodly matters, he told Timothy, “But thou, O man of God, flee these things, and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” (First Timothy 6:11). Again he told Timothy,“Flee youthful lusts...” (Second Timothy 2:22). Often the best way to deal with temptation is to put distance between yourself and the opportunity to sin. Let us remember what Joseph did when he was enticed by the wife of Potiphar to commit adultery. He fled from the house. While we may be able to withstand temptation in other ways the first few times it is presented to us, with continued bombardment against us, we could be overcome. Therefore, do not remain where you are tempted.
How foolish it is for a man with weakness for alcohol to always be hanging around where it is served. Situations that constantly provoke us to lose control of our temper should be avoided.
Put On The Whole Armour
“Put on the whole Armour of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Ephesians 6: 11). This was given as one of the reasons for putting on the Armour of God, that weaponry in our spiritual warfare that God has provided for us that enable us to successfully fight the good fight of faith. Possibly one of the reasons we are so vulnerable to temptation is because we have not applied ourselves sufficiently to acquire those good qualities that teach us to develop, not taking advantage, as we ought of the provisions He has already offered as a way of escape from temptations.
Avoid Evil Company
You cannot clean out a coal bin and expect to remain spotless. Nor can we expect to place ourselves among the enemies of the cross, those who care not for the moral standards of God, those who reject His mercy, and still live the kind of life that God approves. We influence others and they influence us. So long as our influence for the right is predominant, then we should exercise it. But when the influence to do evil is running against us, we do well to seek other friends and associates. Get out of the wrong crowd. Many people sin under the pressure of their peers. If they had not been in their company they would have been better able to say “no” to evil and “yes” to right.“Evil companions corrupt good morals.” (First Corinthians 15:33). As the song suggests, “Make friends of God's people.” How much we need to emphasize to the young Christian to seek their partner in marriage from among those who are in the Lord. Did not Paul show the inconsistency of trying to harmonize with evil in Second Corinthians 6: 14ff? Did not the Psalmist write, "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the wicked, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful?” (Psalm 1: 1).
Overcome Evil With Good
Romans 12:21, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”We will be much stronger in opposing the enticements to do evil if we are busy trying to fill our lives with what is good. We will not live in a vacuum and our minds shall not stay in neutral. We will either be doing as we ought or doing what we ought not, even idling around is a wasteful exercise. The old adage says, “An idle mind is the devil's workshop.” But if we have our lives geared for good things, busy about the Father's business, so pressed in doing the will of God, then we will not have either the time nor the energy and resources to be expended in falling before the temptations that Satan will place before us.
Where do these thoughts lead us? Facing a few realities, we see that we are beset with temptation that we cannot avoid. While we pray that we be led not into temptation, sometimes we meet it head-on in spite of all we can do. But there are ways to defeat it. God has provided the way, yes, several ways, of escape that we may be able to be the victor rather than the victim of temptation.