Power To Resist Temptation
Updated: Aug 3, 2019
"But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death." (James 1:14-15).
"For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted." (Hebrews 2:18)
Definition of "Temptation":
Webster’s New World Thesaurus defines the noun temptation as: “lure, attraction, fascination.” On the other hand, Vine’s Expository Dictionary depicts the Greek peirasmos, as “trials,” divinely permitted or sent, (Luke 22:28; Acts 20:19; James 1:2; 1 Peter 1:6).
Generally, our heavenly Father does not permit his sons and daughters to suffer, but acts with wisdom, in proportion to our needs. It is safe to assume then, that, our temptation simply indicates the sublime nobility of the character God is building within us (James 1:3-4).
It is important to note that it is impossible to be "free" or "exempt" from temptation; and to be induced or enticed is not sin. If we conclude that temptation is sin, then we would be insinuating that the Lord Jesus Christ was a sinner, because even he in all his righteousness and deity was tempted by satan. Therefore, temptation is not sin. It's only if one yields to temptation, that it gives birth to sin. And because Jesus did not yield to temptation, he is able to identify with our temptations and able to help us through them.
Two kinds of Temptation mentioned in the New Testament
First, we read of the temptation by Satan, such as that experienced by our Lord Jesus Christ [His Divinity challenged]: “And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the son of God, command that these stones become bread” (Matthew 4:3).
Secondly, we notice the temptation arising from the old disposition of sin within us (James 1:14). “But each one is tempted” – when, giving way to the evil propensity of his own heart, a man does that to which he is solicited by the enemy of his soul. Among the Rabbinical Writings we find some fine sayings on this subject. “Evil concupiscence is, at the beginning, like the thread of a spider’s web: afterwards it is like a cart rope” (Sanhedrim, fol. 99).
In the words “carried away and enticed,” there is a double metaphor: the first referring to the dragging a fish out of the water by a hook which it had swallowed, because it is concealed by bait. The second, to the enticements of impure women, who draw away the unwary into their snares and involve them in their ruin.
Promises to the Tempted
“For since He Himself was tempted” – Here, the apostle argues that, among other causes, it was necessary that Jesus Christ should partake of human nature, exposed to trials, persecutions, and various sufferings, that He might the better, feel for and be led to succor those who are afflicted and sorely tried. Were the rest of the Scripture silent on this subject, this verse might be an ample support for every tempted soul.
Prevalence of Socialistic Temptation
“And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread” (Matthew 4:3). Without doubt, this portion of the gospels portrays a kind of a socialistic provocation. Primarily, Satan was suggesting to Jesus – “Place man’s insufficiency first and abolish hunger; make Your appeal to their bodies, make Your appeal to their desires for fellowship, and the world will crown You King.” The Scripture attest to the fact that no one understood better the poignant needs of poverty and human suffering than Jesus. We should not forget that Jesus had come to be Savior and King, and at once the subtle appeal in this temptation is seen.
The temptation to provide bread and abolish hunger occurred more than once in the ministry of Jesus (John 6:13-15). People instantly wanted to enthrone Jesus because of His ability to feed thousands. But, he resisted. His goal was not to be a popular social leader, merely providing for physical needs. Besides, kinship was not His special task in the world, either (see Matt. 12:46-50). All men are not in spiritual relationship with Jesus; only those who do His works and the works of His Father who sent Him into the world. Often, Jesus ‘felt compassion’ (Matt. 9:36; 14:14) for the crowds as he mingled amongst them, and He has promised to fellowship with the community of faith. However, it was never His intention to break through the unwilling hearts in order to bring humanity into intimacy with him.
Probably, the temptation to eliminate all direct social conditions of man was attractive and enticing to Jesus, in His humanity. It continues to attract the contemporary church. The admonition for us today is “Be gone, Satan, you have now thrown off the mask, and stand forth in your true character. I am committed to doing God’s will.”
Wholehearted Allegiance to God
Strong as the devil is, God never permits him to conquer the man who continues to resist, stand bravely against him; he cannot force the human will (James 4:7). We are always responsible for temptation from our old disposition, because the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ could radically alter that disposition if we would let Him. But we are not responsible for the temptation from Satan. That sort comes by the express permission of God, who at times seems to say to the devil, “Try hard as you can, He that is in them is greater than you!”
Father help me to be bold enough to use the Word of God to resist the evil one – help me to understand the joy of overcoming deception as I pursue Your will.