Temptation is one of ‘those words.’
We all try to avoid temptation, but what exactly IS temptation?
This word–“temptation”–is vague sometimes! This word can refer to the urge to eat a piece of chocolate cake, buy a new car, or do something that is downright sin. But temptation in the Bible always refers to something that Satan is trying to get you to do–something from which you definitely want to flee.
Today, we are going to look at three specific areas of temptation to avoid.
The Bible has a lot to say about temptation. One verse in particular says, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
I really feel this revelation is going to give you the power and encouragement to put the devil on the run!
John the Beloved writes in his epistle that we are not to love the world or the things in the world. He even states that, if anyone loves the world, the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15). And 1 John 2:16 says, “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”
In other words, this verse is dealing with three temptations:
Appetite – the lust of the flesh;
Allegiance – the lust of the eyes; and
Authority – the pride of life.
To put it in another way:
As humans, we are tempted to act like the world in carnal ways.
We do things that make us feel great, look great, or present ourselves as being great. To categorize these temptations:
You could put the “feel great” temptations into the “lust of the flesh” category.
The “look great” temptations appeal to the “lust of the eyes;” and
The “present ourselves as being great” temptations are in the “pride of life” category.
These three areas of temptation are the same areas that Satan used when tempting Adam, Eve, and even Jesus–the second Adam–in the wilderness.
The Bible says to “Think it not strange” when you are tried or tempted, but to “rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12-13). Nevertheless, we don’t want to give in to temptation, so it’s good for us to study how GOD wants us to respond to the wiles of the devil.
Let’s look individually at these 3 areas of temptation to avoid:
1. Concerning the area of appetite, the enemy began with the first couple.
It all began in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 3:6 states that “the tree was good for food.” Satan had set Eve up when he asked her if God had indeed said that they could not eat of every tree in the garden – like God was holding out on them.
Then the deceiver said to Eve that she would surely not die if she ate of the forbidden tree. He told her that God knows that if she did eat, that her “eyes would be opened” and she would be like God–knowing good and evil.
Unfortunately, you know the rest of the story. When Eve saw that the tree was good for food, possibly even nutritious, and “desirable to make one wise,” she succumbed and ate. She also gave some to her husband and he ate it as well. Their eyes were opened, and they felt afraid and naked. This was an example of sinning due to “the lust of the flesh.”
Sin of any kind always makes one feel afraid and uncovered.
However, when Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, Jesus recognized the motive behind the remark. At Jesus’ most vulnerable time after fasting forty days and forty nights, Satan said, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread” (John 4:3).
Jesus had fasted forty days and forty nights. He was hungry when Satan admonished Him. The flesh would indeed lust for bread after a prolonged fast, but Jesus didn’t give in.
What did Jesus do instead? He quoted the Word!
Jesus responded to Satan by saying, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Remember, Jesus is the living bread–the bread of life–and He even said that if anyone “eats” this bread, he will live forever (John 6:51). Jesus was determined to keep obeying God’s Word, and He knew that God would sustain Him.
Jesus overcame the temptation of appetite by quoting the Word of God. We can do the same when we are tempted!
2. Satan’s next step was to test their allegiance.
This is the “lust of the eyes.” Again, the book of Genesis says the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was “pleasant to the eyes.” In other words, it was desirable.
Sometimes things look so desirable that we tend to go for them without considering the consequences.
Remember that God had given them the right to eat “every green herb that yields seed … and every tree whose fruit yields seed” (Genesis 1:29). Along with these, He gave Adam and Eve every beast, every bird, and everything that creeps on the earth for food. Quite a smorgasbord, right?
But the enemy was suggesting that Adam and Eve could have more.
The enemy was suggesting that God was holding out on them … and because their eyes lusted for more, they succumbed to the temptation. That one choice Adam and Eve made to listen to the enemy cost the enormous price of the fall of mankind.
When tempted, we should weigh our motives on the scales of the Word and prayer!
Satan is always after your allegiance. He even tried to gain Jesus’ allegiance during Jesus’ life on earth! Remember Jesus’ wilderness experience? The devil took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple and said, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.”
Then, quoting Scripture himself, the devil said: “For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you … in their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”
Something extra to think about: I wonder if Satan was remembering the pronouncement back in the garden from God. God had said to Satan, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” Was he trying to bruise His heel by tempting Him to jump off the pinnacle? Interesting, huh?
Friend, the devil wants your allegiance.
Satan wants you to trust him–to listen to him and obey him. But don’t do it! The Word of God is your final authority!
I have asked many times, “Whose report will you believe?” Jesus, when He was tempted in the wilderness, recognized the challenge to His allegiance. He replied to Satan, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”
When He answered the devil that way, Jesus was doing exactly what James counseled when he said, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
Lastly, Satan challenges people in the area of authority.
This is “the pride of life,” and it costs us more than we could understand. In the Garden, Eve saw that the tree was “desirable to make one wise.” She wanted self-rule over God’s rule. Ouch!
How many times do we violate God’s authority?
Do we also desire to have authority over our own lives–instead of surrendering ourselves to God? Remember that the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God (1 Corinthians 3:19).
Satan tempted Jesus in this area too. In the final round of temptation in the wilderness, Satan showed Jesus “all the kingdoms” and offered Him authority over the kingdoms and their glory. But Jesus wasn’t deceived. Jesus said, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.”
Jesus chose to follow His true King, the Father, rather than take the kingdoms of this world with their authority and their glory from Satan. When He did, He gained all authority over the kingdoms of this world–the right way! Praise God!
Jesus took the keys of those kingdoms, along with the authority and glory of the Father, when He proved His true allegiance to God.
Jesus gained everything by being obedient to His Father’s will and ways. He was obedient to death on the cross. And because He was, He rose again to live forever and ever in victory:
Victory over sin;
Victory over hell;
Victory over death; and
Victory over the grave.
Jesus never tried to satisfy the pride of life. He never gave into it. He always gave honor and glory to the Father!
God is God, and we must not violate His authority.
After being raised from the dead, Jesus could proclaim “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). He also told John that “I have the keys of Hell and of Death (Revelation 1:18). We can be victorious over these areas of temptation if we know our authority in Christ–and if we know the Word!
In closing, I want to make these declarations and proclamations over you in the name of the Lord:
In the areas of your
Appetite: Jesus is your bread of life, your sustenance;
Allegiance: He is your Lord and He fills your vision; and
Authority: (Just say) … I choose to serve Him and I am under His authority. (And I also decree over you that you choose this day whom you will serve; and as for you and your house, you will serve the Lord!)
What are some areas of your life where you need to avoid temptation?
Think about where Satan is tempting you and about how you can flee from the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. How will you better align your life to the will of God in your appetite, allegiance, and authority?
Comment below and let me know how I can come into agreement and speak these declarations over your life!