What to Do When Temptation Strikes: The Answer May Surprise You
We are all victims of temptation. And the manner in which it presents itself is not always as glaring as we might expect. Temptation can come in a variety of ways; some appearing very good, and others which are obviously bad.
The hallmark of temptation will always be that it resonates within our flesh, which is our carnal nature. That includes hidden areas of the heart and soul, as well as the physical body. Temptation operates by magnifying a weak area that is not yet fully crucified in Christ. We suffer until we are obedient. Therefore, how we respond to it is key. In this post we’re going to discuss how to properly respond to temptation in a biblical manner that brings ultimate victory.
God allows temptation so that we might be truly sanctified in Him. For those areas in us that often remain hidden, times and seasons of temptation will acutely reveal them. God intends that we overcome. How that happens, however, may surprise you.
In this post I’m going to outline three biblical keys to overcoming temptation. When applied consistently, you will be set on a path to victory.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m tempted the last thing I think of doing is rejoicing. In fact, temptation can awaken dread, fear, frustration and many other sordid emotions. But here is what the scriptures say — and on more than one occasion…
As one who was being tempted to curse God and die, Job said it best:
Though he slay me; yet will I trust in him,” (Job 13:15, KJV).
And there is more. The Apostle James says:
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing,” (James 1:2-4, KJV).
Peter echoes this sentiment in his first epistle:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls,” (1 Peter 1:3-9, KJV).
And why are we rejoicing? Because temptation brings us to a place of sanctification and refinement — the glory which shall yet be revealed when we overcome. When we are tempted, we can know with assurance that God has already provided the victory for us. He’s merely revealing an area that is weak, so we can be made strong, which is why Paul the Apostle is able to say with confidence:
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong,” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10, KJV).
Every child of God is subject to a measure of temptation. God’s promise is that He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to bear, and with each temptation will also provide a way of escape (see 1 Corinthians 10:13). This forbearance may very well explain why children of God who are called to greater stewardship in the LORD are given much greater temptations than others; Jesus Christ being our finest example next to Paul the Apostle, and God’s humble servant, Job. The temptation that strikes you is something unique to you. It will reveal your carnal nature. God is confident you can overcome. He would not allow a temptation that you were not destined to defeat in Him.
The purpose is biblically clear: temptation comes to make you perfect and entire, that the trial of your faith would be found refined as gold, bringing Him honor, glory, and praise at His coming. For all those who overcome temptation, God promises a crown:
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him,” (James 1:12, KJV).
Therefore, you can rejoice.
The Sword of the Spirit
As James said, temptation must be endured. It can last for a fleeting moment, or for a very long season. I personally had a season of temptation that lasted several years. Obviously, that is what it took to crucify that area in my life effectively. It was a grueling and torturous season, and the LORD was with me through it all. Seasons such as this require our endurance which develop extraordinary perseverance and faith, and ultimately our refinement. The goal of the enemy is our destruction. But the goal of the LORD is our sanctification and perfection.
With that said, the season of Christ’s temptation in the wilderness for forty days and nights brings us to the next weapon in our arsenal: The Word of God.
The Word of God is perhaps our greatest offensive weapon of any. Every other weapon given to us, as Paul mentions in Ephesians 6, is defensive. But to wield the Word of God, we must also understand and respect the Word of God. We’re dealing with something spiritual which cannot be altered. It bows to nothing and no one. It is eternally existent and perfect. This sword is one that is lethal. Therefore, we must learn to wield it wisely and well. To speak it is one thing; but this will only get you so far. If you’re hurling scriptures verbally that you are not obedient toward — you are deceiving yourself (see James 1:22). If that is the case, the enemy will have you for lunch, because you’re nothing more than a hypocrite. You are essentially insubordinate. You are outside the boundaries of God’s word. You cannot overcome by verbally stating that to which you are not submitted and actively practicing. Therefore, wielding the sword of the Spirit has much more to do with living it in action and obedience than it does pitching scriptures verbally.
To quote the Word of God verbally can be effective when it’s being lived out in your personal life. To the degree that you are submitted to God’s Word is the degree to which you’ll be effective in speaking it forth with power and authority. For those who fail to understand this principle, they will end up being pierced by that sword themselves. The very Word of God they verbally wield will impale them with judgment. That is not the goal. Therefore, the sword of the Spirit must be properly applied. God’s word was meant to be lived — not merely quoted.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 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. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need,” (Hebrews 4:12-16, KJV).
Christ Jesus was effective in quoting God’s Word because He was the Word made flesh who dwelt among us (see John 1). He could not transgress Himself. He was fully obedient. When the Word of God left His lips it was with raw inherent power. It is no surprise that Satan used God’s Word to tempt Christ.
The thought of using the Word of God as an instrument of temptation is something Satan does very strategically in the lives of biblically illiterate believers. It’s easy to deceive those who misconstrue the Word of God, or who fail to apply it to their lives. Therefore, the best way to use the sword of the Spirit is to judge ourselves first. Screaming at the enemy accomplishes nothing when we are in disobedience. But bringing our lives into alignment with His Word will be precisely what grants us the victory we are seeking. We gain authority in an area to the degree that we are submitted to God.
Allow the sword of His Spirit to divide soul and spirit. Come into alignment through obedience. Only then will you have authority over the enemy. The sword of the Spirit must be applied to your life before it can be effective against the enemy. Otherwise, what was meant to protect you will pierce you instead.
Humility Before His Throne of Grace
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin,” (Hebrews 12:1-4, KJV).
The throne of grace is a place of humility (see 1 Peter 5:6-11).
Knowing where to go in times of temptation is the key. Friends and family can pray, but there is no one who can better help you than Jesus Christ who overcame every power of hell. He alone knows the intimacies of your struggle. The threats against you are no match for Him. There is no war He has not won. There is no enemy in existence that He has not already overcome.
Jesus Christ is your greatest ally in your fight against temptation. You will find Him full of compassion. You will find Him full of wisdom. In Him you will find the very power you need to walk through the fire and come out on the other side without the smell of smoke. You will also find in Him the necessary protection from the onslaught of the enemy. He is your shield and buckler.
Your victory has already been purchased and secured in Jesus Christ. His grace, as He spoke to Paul, is sufficient for you. Whatever the season of your temptation; however long it may last; whatever form it may take — He knows the intimacies of what you are reckoning with and how to fully overcome it. He is able to make you wiser than your enemies. He is able to quench fiery desires that taunt you. He is able to fill you with divine power and strength. He is able to crucify those hidden areas that are being brought to such a glaring light.
Do not be intimidated by your temptation. Rather, allow yourself to be awed by the power of God which He will so readily display on your behalf. When we come to the throne of grace as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane, we need to realize that sweating great drops of blood was merely the beginning for Him of a brutal and torturous death on your behalf. That was His finest hour. The gauntlet had been thrown.
He overcame. His victory was not in vain. It was for YOU.
Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen,” (1 Peter 5:5b-11, KJV).
God will resist the proud. How are you going to effectively resist your enemy if God is resisting you?
The supernatural ability to resist sin is resident within every child of God who makes the LORD their trust. This is when He becomes your stronghold. Therefore, the throne of grace is where we must turn in our time of need.
You do not have to give in to your temptation. God has called us to master it from the beginning, even as He did Cain (see Genesis 4:7). We get to chose whom we obey.
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Romans 6:11-16, KJV).
As a free-will agent, you get to choose whom you serve. This is your finest hour. Temptation will indeed reveal the areas God seeks to sanctify — making you perfect and entire. Rejoice, surrender, and humble yourself before the LORD so He can lift you up.
What the enemy meant for your destruction, God will use to perfect you. It’s all in how you respond.
Cheers & Shalom,
If you would like to participate in the “Monthly Open” please contact me and tell me what you’d like for me to write about. Entries are taken monthly and winners are selected via a random drawing.
Image Credit: SeppH | Pixabay