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The Truth About Temptation

Dr. Mike Johnston

Temptation: a solicitation to sin.

         Sin: Doing what God does not want us to do, or not doing what He does want us to do. The first constitutes the sins of commission, which grieve the Spirit (Eph. 4:30); the second represent sins of omission, that quench the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19).

Temptation is a tool Satan uses to lure you into sin and to keep you from experiencing the abundant life that is in Christ Jesus (John 10:10). And regardless of who you are, as long as you live in human skin, the solicitation for evil will greet you every day with a wink and a smile. When it does, are you prepared to deal with it before it deals with you?

Jesus-who is the truth (John 14:6; Eph. 4:21), offered us the best news for victorious Christian living to be found anywhere: Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32).

Satan is the evil force behind all temptation!

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 (James 1:13).

Satan is a highly skilled soul winner (Psa. 97:10; Rev. 18:13) and he hates God with his entire being. Not surprising, the Satanic kingdom (Matt. 12:26) is the polar opposite of God’s. God is truth, Satan is a liar (Ex. 34:6; John 8:44). God is light, Satan is darkness (1 John 1:5; Col. 1:13), and so on.

Here’s his scam . . .

Satan’s goal is disobedience to God!

         And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel (1 Chronicles 21:1).

Please understand everyone gets tempted (1 Cor. 10:13). While Satan is the father of and force behind all sin (John 8:44; 1 John 3:8), he wants us to believe he is far more like God than he really is.

Bear in mind that Satan is the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4), and of course has a measure of earthly authority. But he isn’t God!  First, Satan isn’t omniscient, so he can’t read your mind. Second, he isn’t omnipresent, so he can’t be everywhere at once. And third, he isn’t omnipotent, so he can’t make us do anything we don’t want to do.

What he can do, however is written for our correction, for instruction in righteousness that (we) might be equipped (2 Tim. 3:16). For instance,  he is well organized. As the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2) he oversees principalities and powers, rulers of darkness, and spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph. 6:12) to assist in his diabolical efforts. These fallen angels apparently do his bidding as designated spirits that rule in the lives of those walking in disobedience to the Lord causing them to live as Paul warned: in the desires of the flesh and of the mind (Eph 2:2-3). They also are said to wreak havoc on nations (Dan. 10:13), or individuals like you and me. Be cautious my friend. Satan is able to appear before God with illegal accusations against us (Job 2:1; Rev. 2:10), while  also making ongoing contact throughout earth. Peter warned:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).

The depth of his strategies

Now don’t miss the depth of his temptation strategies. The word devour (above) is from the Greek word kat-ap-ee’-no which means to literally be eaten up by something (Rev. 10:9-10).  Note the gaping implication here, friend.

While involving immediate disobedience, Satan reaches beyond that. He wants us so engrossed in sin we become absolutely consumed by it, leaving us unable to effectively unction, let alone minister to anyone  But there’s more. As you study the lives of great saints in the Bible, it becomes all too apparent one of Satan’s greatest delights is to bring down someone who has or is walking in close fellowship with the Lord. Aaron turned to idolatry; David murdered a friend to cover up adultery; Peter denied Christ. In all honesty, this can happen to anyone—I know! (If you’ve agonized over previous failures, please order my tract: Failure isn’t Final).

One way of attracting attention is through his uncanny ability to masquerade himself. He disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14), so we hardly suspect him until its too late.

Lucifer’s “Light”

From the beginning, the anointed cherub Lucifer (Ezek. 28:14), the light bearer, was part of God’s host and inner circle of trust and authority. What a dazzling spectacle he must have been up on the Lord’s Mountain amidst the stones of fire (Ezek. 28:13). Like Narcissus who fell in love with his own reflection, perhaps Lucifer became enamored with himself and while strutting his stuff in full view of the angelic host he thought: “Hey, I’m popular, I’m powerful, and I’m oh so pretty”: I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High (Isaiah 14:13-14).

My friend, please be sure of one timeless truth: Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18). The moment you begin thinking more about your purposes than God’s, it’s tumble time!

Every Sin Begins in the Mind!

For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly (Mark 7:21-22).

Sin doesn’t suddenly jump from the shadows to grab us. It waits, watches, and works it’s way into the core of our being through the channel of our unprotected minds. It begins with a passing thought from something you see, read, or hear, and if not confessed and repented of it secretes feelings of forbidden pleasures you secretly entertain. Be honest, you’ve had these  and so have I. Perhaps they are simmering there like soup on a back burner. Beloved, please hear me: Unconfessed sin is never of benefit to the Christian life.  James warns: 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 1:14-15).

Spirit, Soul, and Body

Satan is the tempter (Matt. 4:3). He knows human nature and how God created us tripartite: spirit, soul and body (1 Thess. 5:23). He understands how each of these work in synergy: The spirit (pneuma) is where we have conscience, conversion, and communion with God. It feeds on the Word and connects our spirit to the Holy Spirit. Satan can’t touch this, but he can exercise influence through the 5 senses to make us fall or keep our spirit man from growing!

The soul (psuche) is the seat of mind, emotion, and will. The Bible also calls it the heart which is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9). Unlike the spirit, the soul is sensual, and takes what we see, hear, smell, touch, and taste—at face value—and places it in our mind for daily decision making. As you may surmise, the soul and the spirit are motivated by very different factors. The former looks around, while the latter looks up; one pleases himself, the other, God. One is feelings based, the other is faith based. Satan’s underlying objective can be summarized like this: For to be carnally (soulish) minded is death (Romans 8:6). Naturally, if the heart is left to itself without being influenced by the spirit, it will lust for earthly pleasures that lead to death (1 John 2:15-17). Therefore, if Satan is to properly tempt us, to do evil, he must first condition us by what we know, and how we feel about it.

Now please consider this carefully: When temptation whispers your name, it’s show time! Whichever you have been feeding—spirit or soul—is going to decide what you do. If you are weak spiritually, you will fall every single time. This is a reflection of the old days—before we came to Christ, when we were spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1,5), slaves to sin (Rom. 6), children of the devil (John 8:44; 1 John 3:10), and following after the whims of a wicked and disobedient spirit (Eph. 2:1-2). Paul pointed out that folks like that live in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened . . . through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness (Eph. 4:17-19).

4 Steps from Victim to Victor!

Sin can’t keep you bound unless you choose to let it! With every temptation, God provides a way out (1 Cor. 10:13). The following steps in Psalm 51:1-14 were the very ones taken by David after confessing his infamous incident with Bathsheba:

STEP 1: Ask God for mercy- Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. No sin is so horrible that the blood of Christ can’t perfectly remove (Eph. 2:13).

STEP 2: Ask God to forgive and cleanse you- Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

STEP 3: Ask God to restore you- Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

STEP 4: Ask God to use you- Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee . . . thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. Remember my dear sorrowful friend: the gifts and calling of God are without repentance (Rom. 11:29).  

Releasing Strongholds

Unconfessed sin can take over your life. This is known as a stronghold: Heed carefully Paul’s encouragement: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). Once again, it is all in your mind!

Build up your resistance: Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7). Before a victim can hope for victory, a heart determination must be made to totally sell out to God. If you aren’t a Christian, that means turning to Christ in humble repentance: That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved (Romans 10:9). A simple faith prayer is all that is required: Lord I’m sorry for my sins. Please come into my heart and save me and live through me. In Jesus Name, amen! If you decide to do that, please write us for FREE help.

Feed your spirit spiritual food: Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).  The Holy Spirit is the spirit of truth (John 14:17) and He always applies the Word of truth (Eph. 1:13) to life’s situations. That’s why we memorize Bible passages. If no truth is stored, He will have nothing to assist you with when tempted. Here is a regimen to help you build up your faith (Rom. 10:17): Praise God consistently (Psa. 150). Read and memorize the Word daily (Psa. 119:9,11; 2 Tim. 2:15). Confess your sins quickly (1 John 1:9). Fellowship with other believers in chapel regularly (Heb 10:25). Share your faith unashamedly (Acts 1:8). Having done all– stand!

Guard your heart with your entire being: Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23). Don’t ever forget that the heart (mind, emotion, will) is the gateway of the devil. When it’s dirty, he will control you. If it’s clean, he has no authority. You must choose what you read, view, and listen to. Please memorize Phil. 4:8.

Focus yourself on the eternal and not the temporal: If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God (Colossians 3:1-3).

Won’t you begin today?



Categories: Collateral Studies
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