Temptations are normal experiences that every believer would face at one point in time or the other. However, there is no need to be afraid of them for the following reasons:
First of all, God’s faithful not to allow us to be tempted above the level of grace we are conscious of at the moment. 1 Corinthians 10:13 explains it further,
“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”
Furthermore, we Jesus as our High Priest who can associate with our temptations since He was tempted in every way, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15 tells us,
“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin”
In addition to that, the tempter (the devil) is NOT wise. He does not possess a bag of limitless tricks. In fact, the summary of every temptation that we would ever face as believers can be found in 1 John 2:16,
“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” (Emphasis mine)
The truth is that every form of temptation we would ever face in our lives would either be in the form of pride or lust!!!
This is very profound.
Check out the nature of Eve’s temptation in the Garden of Eden,
“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Genesis 3:6 Emphasis mine)
If you look carefully at the text, you’d find striking similarities between 1 John 2:16 and Genesis 3:6,
Lust of the flesh (1 John 2:16) = Good for food (Genesis 3:6)
Lust of the eyes (1 John 2:16) = Pleasant to the eyes (Genesis 3:6)
Pride of life (1 John 2:16) = Desired to make one wise (Genesis 3:6)
And if that is not enough proof, check out Luke’s account of the temptation of Jesus Christ,
“And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.
And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.
If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve
And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence:
For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee:
And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Luke 4:3-12)
Again, we find the same trend in the manner in which the devil tempts,
Lust of the flesh (1 John 2:16) = Command this stone that it be made bread (Luke 4:3)
Lust of the eyes (1 John 2:16) = Shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time (Luke 4:5)
Pride of life (1 John 2:16) = Cast thyself down from hence (Luke 4:8)
So, it is very apparent that the devil is always going to try to deal with you in the area of lust and pride. It is simply non-negotiable. He did it with the first Adam, he did it with the last Adam and would in the same way try to make you fall into sin with these weapons.
Now, in order to know how to overcome temptation, it is expedient for us to know the mechanism through which temptations work. Knowing this would make us better prepared in dealing with temptation.
A portion of the Bible that deals with the mechanism of temptations can be found in Acts 5:3-4,
“But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God”
Here Peter asks Ananias two main questions:
The first was pertaining to why Ananias allowed the devil to fill his heart to lie.
On the other hand, the second was why Ananias himself conceived the idea in his heart.
These questions, as innocent as they may look, contain the mechanism through which temptations lead to sin.
In Biology, we are taught that a man fills his wife with the seed of copulation before the wife eventually conceives and gets pregnant. Although, it is not every time a man fills his wife with his seed that she conceives and gets pregnant, we were taught that every time a man meets with his wife, there is always a chance of the wife conceiving and getting pregnant.
The funny thing is that the same principle happens in the course of a temptation!!!
The devil continually tries to fill our minds with evil thoughts. There are times we are able to consciously ward these thoughts away. But the truth remains that if we continually put ourselves in a vulnerable position where the devil can continue to bombard our minds with these evil thoughts, we increase the chances of an evil conception occurring in our minds that would eventually lead us to committing sins.
James 1:15 says,
“Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death”
So, the million dollar question now is this: How do we overcome temptations???
And the answer is very, very straightforward:
Continually fill your heart and mind with the engrafted, quick, alive and powerful Word of God which is able to save your soul.
The truth is that you can only be tempted with you think about.
James 1:14 says that one is tempted when he or she is drawn by what he or she lusts after. So, if you continually fill your mind with the Word of God, it would be totally impossible for the devil to suggest evil thoughts because your heart and mind is already filled with the Word of God.
Little wonder 1 John 3:9 tells us this:
“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God”
Whoever is born of God does not commit sin because of the Seed of God (the undiluted Word of God) is in him/her and such individual cannot (is totally unable to) sin, since he is born of God.
This is God’s plan for every believer!!!