Sin dwells in hell, and holiness in heaven. Remember that every temptation is from the devil, to make you like himself. Remember when you sin, that you are learning and imitating of the devil – and are so far like him. And the end of all, is that you may feel his pains. If hell-fire be not good, then sin is not good.
[We must] pray constantly for His enabling grace to say no to temptation, of choosing to take all practical steps to avoid known areas of temptation and flee from those that surprise us.
There is no point in praying for victory over temptation if we are not willing to make a commitment to say no to it.
It is our own evil desires that lead us into temptation. We may think we merely respond to outward temptations that are presented to us. But the truth is, our evil desires are constantly searching out temptations to satisfy their insatiable lusts (James 1:14).
Our reliance on the Spirit is not intended to foster an attitude of “I can’t do it,” but one of “I can do it through Him who strengthens me.” The Christian should never complain of want of ability and power. If we sin, it is because we choose to sin, not because we lack the ability to say no to temptation.
Some temptations can best be overcome by fleeing (2 Timothy 2:22).
Every time we say yes to temptation, we make it harder to say no the next time.
God has defeated Satan through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Through this overwhelming victory, God has also empowered you to overcome any temptation to sin and has provided sufficient resources for you to respond biblically to any problem of life. By relying on God’s power and being obedient to His Word, you can be an overcomer in any situation.
As an obedient believer, you are to stand firm in the strength of the Lord, to be sober in spirit, and to remain alert in order to resist the schemes of the devil. However, in all areas of your walk as a believer, you are incapable in your own strength and insufficient in your own resources to overcome the wiles and temptations of Satan. Therefore, you must put on the full armor of God to be an overwhelming conqueror in your continuing spiritual battle.
Temptations are rather hopeful evidences that thy estate is good, that thou art dear to God, and that it shall go well with thee forever, than otherwise. God had but one Son without corruption, but He had none without temptation.
The only way to avoid cannon-shot is to fall down. No such way to be freed from temptation as to keep low.
More than the arguments we can muster about the awful consequences upon us when we yield to temptation, the sight of what our sin caused our Savior to suffer should convince us to turn from sin’s path. Our God would not have paid so dear a price to rescue us from temptation’s consequences were not they to be deeply feared.
God promises that our temptation is never stronger than He is… God provides His solemn word and sovereign promise that He will never allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to resist.
We should not assume that, because God promises to provide a way out of temptation, we have no role in our own rescue. God always provides a way of escape, but He may also require great effort from us. We take advantage of the way of escape God provides by exerting every resource He gives us to fight the enemy… To increase our faith and strengthen our character, God more often allows us to escape temptation by using the means of grace always available to us: conscientiously seeking God’s power and instruction through prayer, meditation on His Word, and the counsel of mature Christians are never passive endeavors.
The greatest of all temptations is to want to be without any.
We often forget that temptation can come from any quarter, even from within our own family circle. We expect the Devil to assault us like a roaring lion, as ugly and fearsome as can be. We don’t expect him to come to us dressed up like an angel of light, speaking in the honey-sweet tones of the ones we love. Yet the Bible warns us that such an approach is easy for him to adopt (2 Cor. 11:14). Thus, Satan didn’t only confront Jesus head-on in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11); he also tempted him more subtly through the words of one of his closest disciples, Peter (Matt. 16:23).
When we are tempted and seek to know and love God, and like Moses long to see His glory, and out of that occupation of our minds have no further love for that previous temptation, we have experienced something of the reality of the very highest form of freedom from sin. It is one thing to love sin and to force ourselves to quit it; it is another thing to hate sin because love for God is so gripping that the sin no longer appeals. The latter is repentance; the former is reform. It is repentance that God requires. Repentance is “a change of mind.” To love and yet quit it is not the same as hating it and quitting it. Your supposed victory over a sin may be simple displacement. You may love one sin so much (such as your pride) that you will curtail another more embarrassing sin which you also love. This may look spiritual, but there is nothing of God in it. Natural men do it every day.
Though some situations which invite temptation cannot be changed, most can. A man who will not flee the setting of his temptation when he is able still loves his sin.
Unwillingness to accept God’s "way of escape" from temptation frightens me – what a rebel yet resides within.
Forms of temptation:
1. Temptation to act – 1 Jn. 2:16.
a. “lust of the eyes” – Personal aspiration.
b. “lust of the flesh” – Personal gratification.
c. “boastful pride of life” – Personal reputation.
2. Temptation to react.
a. Fight – anger, hostility, wrath, resentment, bitterness.
b. Fright – fear, anxiety, worry.
c. Flight – avoidance, apathy, escape, withdrawal.
Only those who resist temptation to the end know the full force of temptation.
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 German army by fighting it, not by giving in. 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. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it.
Christ, because He was the only Man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only Man who knows to the full what temptation means.
In the last analysis it is not the temptations that meet us on the streets that determine our conduct; it is the heart of the man who faces them. Two men may face the same conditions; one falls, the other stands. The difference is not in the temptation but in the heart of the man.
The first degree [of temptation] relates to the mind – it is dragged away from its duties by the deceit of sin. The second aims at the affections – they are enticed and entangled. The third overcomes the will – the consent of the will is the conception of actual sin. The fourth degree disrupts our way of life as sin is born into it. The fifth is the flesh’s goal, a hardened life of sin, which leads to eternal death (James 1:14-15).
God delights in our temptations and yet hates them. He delights in them when they drive us to prayer; He hates them when they drive us to despair.
Temptations, of course, cannot be avoided, but because we cannot prevent the birds from flying over our heads, there is no need that we should let them nest in our hair
Since the Fall in the Garden of Eden, temptation has been a constant, unrelenting part of human life. Men have tried to avoid and resist it with self-inflicted pain to make themselves uncomfortable and presumably humble, or by isolating themselves from other people and from physical comforts. But no person has ever found a place or a circumstance that can make him safe from temptation.
That is God’s plan and purpose – to use Satan’s temptations as a means of testing and strengthening our faith in Him and of our growing stronger in righteousness. God allows testings in our lives in order that our spiritual “muscles” may be exercised and strengthened. Whether the testing is by God’s initiative or is sent by Satan, God will always use it to produce good in us when we meet the test in His power.
Temptations that have been anticipated, guarded against, and prayed about have little power to harm us. Jesus tells us to “keep watching and praying, that you may not come into temptation” (Mark 14:38). Victory over temptation comes from being constantly prepared for it, which, in turn, comes from constantly relying on the Lord.
Every temptation, directly or indirectly, is the temptation to doubt and distrust God.
The Word, watchfulness, prayerfulness. That’s it. No magic. That’s how you deal with [temptation]. Pour the Word in. Stay alert. Understand what’s going on around you by way of temptation. Be discerning and fall prostrate before God and cry out for His power. That’s the path to triumph. Then you can rise and walk to face the foe as [Jesus] did [in Gethsemane].
If you’re going to triumph over temptation, you must hate it. You must feel afflicted by it. You must feel the pain of it, the assault of it, the repulsiveness of it. Their needs to be an agonizing in prayer because you love holiness and you hate sin.
Though we have been forgiven, and though we have been made new in Christ, we’re like Lazarus. We came out of the grave; we have new life, but we stink. We have our dirty grave clothes on. We are a new creation, incarcerated in unredeemed flesh. And we are seduced by the remnants of our fallenness. Satan’s temptation to us is to hold onto sin and not come to righteousness. Satan’s temptation to us is to hold onto the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
The temptation once yielded to gains power. The crack in the embankment which lets a drop or two ooze through is soon a hole which lets out a flood.
I know well that when Christ is nearest, Satan also is busiest.
I have explained that you might expect to be tempted to the end of your life, that the nearer you live to God, the more you will be tempted. The presence of temptation in your life is not a proof of deterioration, but the contrary, for the more you know of God on the one hand the more you will know of Satan’s temptation, on the other hand.
Christian maturity is not indicated by the infrequency of temptation but by the infrequency of succumbing to temptation.
When Christians find themselves exposed to temptation they should pray to God to uphold them, and when they are tempted they should not be discouraged. It is not a sin to be tempted; the sin is to fall into temptation.
Holiness is not freedom from temptation, but power to overcome temptation.
Mention of the “schemes” of the devil reminds us of the trickery by which evil and temptation present themselves in our lives. Evil rarely looks evil until it accomplishes its goal; it gains entrance by appearing attractive, desirable, and perfectly legitimate. It is a baited and camouflaged trap (Klyne Snodgrass).
Temptation is like a knife, that may either cut the meat or the throat of a man; it may be his food or poison.
Temptations and occasions put nothing into a man, but only draw out what was in him before.
If we do not abide in prayer, we will abide in temptation. Let this be one aspect of our daily intercession: “God, preserve my soul, and keep my heart and all its ways so that I will not be entangled." When this is true in our lives, a passing temptation will not overcome us. We will remain free while others lie in bondage.
It is when we have received some special mark of the Lord’s favor, or immediately after we have enjoyed some unusual season of communion with Him, that we need most to be on our guard!
The power of all temptation is the prospect that it will make me happier. No one sins out of a sense of duty when what they really want is to do right.
We do not always choose our temptations, but we always choose our reactions.
We do not always choose our temptations. But we do choose our reactions to those temptations.
Every temptation is a kind of test, but not every test is a temptation. Tests and temptations have different purposes, and they come from different places. Tests are designed to show what someone can do. Their purpose is positive, which explains why God himself tests people, as he tested Abraham (Heb. 11:17). A test is a trial posed by God to prove the strength of our faith. Temptations, on the other hand, are more negative. Their explicit purpose is to entice people to sin, which is why they come from the Evil One. A temptation is a trial posed by Satan, with the wicked hope that we will fail.
The weaknesses we see in the people of the Bible are the very weaknesses we ought to recognize in ourselves. Like Eve, who ate the forbidden fruit, we are vulnerable to temptation when we act on our own. Like Abraham, who lied about his wife to save his neck, we are vulnerable to temptation when we are scared. Like David, who slept with Bathsheba while his men were off to war, we are vulnerable to temptation when we are idle. Like Elijah, who wanted God to end his life, we are vulnerable to temptation when we are exhausted. Like Peter, who denied his Lord even after he promised to die for him, we are vulnerable to temptation when we are overconfident. In other words, we are vulnerable to temptation practically all the time.
The fact that [God] does not tempt us (Jas. 1:13) does not mean that our temptations are somehow outside of His control. God is sovereign over all the affairs of life, including every temptation to sin. Although He does not cause our temptations, He does allow them to occur.
We are too apt to forget that temptation to sin will rarely present itself to us in its true colors, saying, “I am your deadly enemy, and I want to ruin you forever in hell.” Oh no! Sin comes to us like Judas, with a kiss; like Joab, with outstretched hand and flattering words. The forbidden fruit seemed good and desirable to Eve; yet it cast her out of Eden. Walking idly on his palace roof seemed harmless enough to David; yet it ended in adultery and murder. Sin rarely seems (like) sin at first beginnings. Let us then watch and pray, lest we fall into temptation.
We must not count temptation a strange thing. "The disciple is not greater than his master, nor the servant than his lord." If Satan came to Christ, he will also come to Christians.
To be tempted is in itself no sin. It is the yielding to the temptation, and giving it a place in our hearts, which we must fear.
We are too apt to forget that temptation to sin will rarely present itself to us in its true colors, saying, “I am your deadly enemy, and I want to ruin you forever in hell.” Oh, no! sin comes to us, like Judas, with a kiss; and like Joab, with an outstretched hand and flattering words. The forbidden fruit seemed good and desirable to Eve; yet it cast her out of Eden.
It’s easier to avoid temptation then to resist it.
Satan gives Adam an apple (fruit), and takes away Paradise. Therefore in all temptations let us consider not what he offers, but what we shall lose.
It’s like the ridiculous line I remember hearing in high school. “How do you know you won’t like drugs until you try them?” Well, maybe I take seriously the scientific research that shows their effects on your body. Maybe I’ve read about and have seen the broken lives of people that get hooked on that stuff. Maybe I don’t need an artificial stimulant to find enjoyment in life. I’ve never tried to drive through Manhattan blindfolded, but I don’t anticipate doing it anytime soon!
The same Greek word can be translated “temptation” and “test.” They are a world apart and context determines which translation to use. Satan is the one who tempts us to sin. God is the one who tests us to righteousness. Satan wants to destroy us. He wants to weaken our faith. He wants us to spiritually fail. On the other hand, our Lord is forever testing us. His goal though tests, often in the form of trials, is to make us spiritually stronger, refine our character and increase our faith. Part of the test at times is overcoming the temptation. It is the Lord in His sovereignty who sends test. “Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Mt. 4:1). However, it is during these tests that Satan finds His greatest opportunity to tempt us. So when the heat in life is turned up, will we trust God and walk by faith in His commandments or will we listen to the “father of lies” and sin? The prayer here is that the Lord will help us pursue righteous actions as we emerge from the test spiritually victorious.
Satan tempts (to make us weaker), but God’s goal is to test (to make us stronger) and oftentimes we are tested by God permitting Satan to tempt us. In the Bible (Luke 4) we see Jesus being tested by God as He is led by God into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
If Jesus needed prayer and the Holy Spirit to empower Him during temptation (Lk. 3:21-22; 4:1), what does it say about our abilities to be successful in the spiritual fight if we fail to have either?
Temptation, in and of itself, is not sin… Jesus was repeatedly tempted (Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:14; Matthew 4), but He was sinless… Temptation only becomes a sin when you acquiesce to it, “fondle” it, and “enjoy” it.
The strength of temptation also comes from a tendency to push virtues to such an extreme that they become vices. For example, it is all too easy for the joy of eating to become gluttony, or for the blessing of rest to become sloth, or for the peace of quietness to become noncommunication, or for industriousness to become greed, or for liberty to be turned into an excuse for licentiousness. We all know what it’s like for pleasure to become sensuality, or for self-care to become selfishness, or for self-respect to become conceit, or for wise caution to become cynicism and unbelief, or for righteous anger to become unrighteous rage, or for the joy of sex to become immorality, or for conscientiousness to become perfectionism. The list could go on endlessly, but I think you get the point.
Seven Tactics of Temptation:
1. Satan especially likes to tempt us when our faith is fresh, i.e., when the Christian is only recently converted and thus less prepared to know how to resist his seductive suggestions.
2. Satan especially likes to tempt us when our faith feels strongest, i.e., when we think we are invulnerable to sin. If we are convinced that we have it under control, we become less diligent.
3. Satan especially likes to tempt us when we are in an alien environment.
4. Satan also likes to tempt us when our faith is being tested in the fires of affliction. When we are tired, burnt out, persecuted, feeling excluded and ignored, Satan makes his play. His most common tactic is to suggest that God isn’t fair, that he is treating us unjustly, from which platform Satan then launches his seductive appeal that we need no longer obey.
5. Satan especially likes to tempt us immediately following both spiritual highs and spiritual lows. Periods of emotional elation and physical prosperity can sometimes lead to complacency, pride, and a false sense of security. When they do, we’re easy targets for the enemy’s arrows.
6. Perhaps Satan’s most effective tactic in tempting us is to put his thoughts into our minds and then blame us for having them.
7. A related tactic of temptation is for him to launch his accusations as if they were from the Holy Spirit. In other words, he couches his terms and chooses his opportunities in such a way that we might easily mistake his voice for that of God.
Temptation almost always begins in the flesh (James 1:14). Our flesh sets fire to sin. Satan simply fans the flames. Satan is powerless until we first say “yes” to sin. He exploits our sinful decisions, most often by intensifying the course of action we have already chosen (Eph. 4:26-27).
The strength of temptation also comes from a tendency to push virtues to such an extreme that they become vices. For example, it is all too easy for the joy of eating to become gluttony, or for the blessing of rest to become sloth, or for the peace of quietness to become non-communication, or for industriousness to become greed, or for liberty to be turned into an excuse for licentiousness. We all know what it’s like for pleasure to become sensuality, or for self-care to become selfishness, or for self-respect to become conceit, or for wise caution to become cynicism and unbelief, or for righteous anger to become unrighteous rage, or for the joy of sex to become immorality, or for conscientiousness to become perfectionism. The list could go on endlessly…
Sin comes to us, taps us on the shoulder or tugs at our shirttail and whispers in our ear: “You deserve better than what God has provided. He’s holding out on you. You deserve to feel good about yourself. I’ll affirm you in a way no one else can. Why live in misery any longer? Come to me. I’ll give you a sense of power you’ve never known before. I’ll expand your influence. I’ll fill your heart with a sense of accomplishment. I’ll nourish your soul. You’ve never had a physical rush like the one I’ve got in store for you. Obeying God is boring. It’s a pain. He’s always telling you to do stuff that’s difficult and burdensome and inconvenient or ordering you to forsake the few things that really bring you happiness. Come on. You’ve only got one life. Obedience is ugly. My way is fun. My way feels good.”
The focus of Satan’s efforts is always the same: to deceive us into believing that the passing pleasures of sin are more satisfying than obedience.
Temptation is often strong because it comes in the form of an enticement to satisfy legitimate needs through illegitimate means.
Temptation, in and of itself, is not sin. This is critically important, especially for those who suffer from an overly sensitive and tender conscience. Jesus was repeatedly tempted (Heb. 2:17-18; 4:15; Mt. 4), but he was sinless. We must resist thinking that we are sub-Christian or sub-spiritual simply because we are frequently tempted. It was the great reformer Martin Luther who first said, “You can’t prevent the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” His point is that a temptation only becomes a sin when you acquiesce to it, as it were “fondle” it and “enjoy” it.
Whereas God tests our faith, he never tempts it (James 1:13). The purpose of divine testing is to sanctify and strengthen. The purpose of satanic tempting is to deceive and destroy. Evil neither exists in the heart of God nor is He its author. It most assuredly exists in our hearts and we are its author.
Confront and conquer temptation at the beginning, not at the end. In other words, the best and most effective tactic against temptation is to deal with it from a position of strength, before it has an opportunity to weaken you. Better to take steps up front to eliminate temptation altogether (if possible), than to deal with it later when your defenses are down.
Fire tries Iron, and temptation tries a just man.
Temptations are an appeal to meet righteous needs in an unrighteous way.
Reading maketh a full man, prayer a holy man, temptation an experienced man.
When you determined in your heart to serve the Lord, be prepared for temptation from the evil one.
By the time of choice most of the choosing is already done.
When there is opportunity to sin may the Lord protect me from the inclination and when there is the inclination to sin may the Lord protect me from the opportunity.
Fly from all occasions of temptation, and if still tempted, fly further still. If there is no escape possible, then have done with running away and show a bold face and take the two-edged sword of the Spirit. Some temptations must be taken by the throat as David killed the lion; others must be stifled as David hugged the bear to death. Some you had better keep to yourselves and not give air. Shut them up as a scorpion in a bottle. Scorpions in such confinement die soon, but if allowed out for a crawl and then put back into the bottle and corked down, they will live a long while and give you trouble. Keep the cork on your temptations, and they will die of themselves.
It’s easier to resist temptation at a distance than when it is near.
In effect, by accepting Satan’s statement, Eve was calling God a liar, even though she might not have recognized those implications of her action. She accepted Satan as the truth-teller and God as the prevaricator. By partaking of the fruit she was implicitly stating her belief that Satan was more interested in her welfare than God was. Yielding to the temptation implied that she accepted Satan’s analysis of the situation instead of God’s.
Temptation often comes wrapped in the form of something beautiful, something that appeals to our senses and desires. It is often necessary to think twice before we recognize that a beautiful object or goal (at times) is really sin in disguise.
Idleness tempts the devil to tempt.
The devil tempts, that he may deceive; but God suffers us to be tempted, to try us. Temptation is a trial of our sincerity.
Satan tempts to sin under a pretence of religion. He is most to be feared when he transforms himself into an angel of light. He came to Christ with Scripture in his mouth: “It is written.” The devil baits his hook with religion.
Satan doth not tempt God’s children because they have sin in them, but because they have grace in them. Had they no grace, the devil would not disturb them… Though to be tempted is a trouble, yet to think why you are tempted is a comfort.
There is a great deal of difference between falling into a temptation, and running into a temptation. The falling into a temptation shall work for good, not the running into it. He that falls into a river is capable of help and pity, but he that desperately turns into it is guilty of his own death.
When a serpent comes across your path speaking lies, you should run from it or kill it. You shouldn’t sit around for a friendly chat.
What is temptation? Some synonyms for “tempt” are: allure, attract, entice, seduce, and tantalize. Some synonyms for “tempted” are: enchanted, entranced, bewitched, hypnotized, spellbound, charmed, mesmerized, enraptured, and captivated. Each word generates an emotional picture. Temptation relates to sin. [We] are allured by it. We are attracted to it, enticed by it, seduced by its seeming pleasure, tantalized by the fantasy of what it would be like.
We must expect to be tempted by [Satan] in some degree or another, all of our lives, because this life is a continual warfare. We must never expect to have rest from our spiritual adversary the devil, or to say, our combat with him is finished. Our fight with the evil one will continue until we bow our heads and our spirit is removed from our body and is brought into the presence of our dear precious Savior Jesus Christ!
Temptation arises and the conscience warns of impending danger – Rationalization: “Because I already hate sin as a general rule, I can be near temptation without desiring it or becoming vulnerable” Temptation intensifies – Rationalization: “I’ve been doing well spiritually, what possible damage could result from merely ‘noticing’ trouble?” Sinful desires begin to consume the thought life – Rationalization: “My life is very difficult, so how am I supposed to be strong all the time? Can I be expected to hold off every powerful enticement when I’m under such pressure?” The conscience screams reminders about truth, family, friends, and consequences – Rationalization: “Since I’m alone, none of those I love will be affected; and besides, this is a small sin compared to what I’ve seen others do.” Sin prevails with the attendant guilt – Rationalization: “I’m not as bad as others; I know God will forgive me; I’ll just leave this between me and Him; I don’t need anyone’s help because they’ll just be judgmental.” Sin continues as a pattern, truth becomes dull, and sensations of guilt fade – Rationalization: “People can be so legalistic; they think they’re the only ones that do anything right; God is much more loving and He wants me to be happy.”
Exemplary Spiritual Leadership, DayOne, 2010, p. 51-52, Used by Permission.