Life is fraught with troubles, trials, and temptations. Succumbing to temptation is common and has drenched the world with tears and sorrow since time immemorial.
A temptation is an enticement to do wrong or evil. The source of it is Satan whose motive is to bring harm and destruction to humanity. He spares no one, not even the Son of God.
Satan is the tempter (Matthew 4:3) and he usually deploys the glitters and pleasures of the world to lure the weak, uncrucified flesh to yield to temptation.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 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. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17)
The definition of “the world” in this passage is the evil mindset, attitude, and system of this fallen world that has rejected God. Sadly, the unconverted including many uncommitted Christians are deeply influenced by its godless values.
The world system is driven by 3 deadly inclinations: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. The word “lust” can be defined as the greed for:
— something forbidden by God
— something that is not ours to have
— something that pleases the devil and promotes evil
— something if partaken of would result in dreadful consequences.
Since the Fall of man, we are all born with a rebellious streak (Ephesians 2:1-2). Even when we are in Christ, we have to constantly crucify the old man, and put on the new man as there is such a tendency to yield to a variety of temptations (Ephesians 4:22-24).
No Christian has conquered temptation perfectly as we are all work-in-progress along the narrow way, going through the process of sanctification.
being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; (Philippians 1:6)
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; (Philippians 2:12)
Putting off or crucifying the old man is simply denying the dictates of our old self or nature so that the new creation can dominate and put the flesh under control. That’s the reason why Jesus commands us to take up the Cross, deny ourselves and follow Him (Matthew 16:24).
This process of dying to the self-centred life and learning to live in the newness of life is by no means easy, but it is of great necessity if we desire to overcome the temptations of this world. The uncrucified life is helpless in the face of any temptation.
The more we yield to Christ, the Holy Spirit in our human spirit will gain ascendency over the works of the flesh. Conversely, if we feed our flesh with worldly trifles and pleasures more, our spirit man will weaken and be susceptible to the temptations and attacks of Satan.
Unless we take our faith seriously and do our part by crucifying the flesh with the help of the Spirit, it’s impossible to be victorious over trials and temptations.
It’s a lifelong process and no saint can walk the straight and narrow perfectly. But as we learn to yield more to the Spirit, we become more stable and disciplined to overcome the wiles of the devil.
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)
Christians often quote this verse zealously but secretly wonder why this promise doesn’t work for them. Often, they are tempted beyond what they can bear and have been overtaken by a besetting sin. Why didn’t God make a way of escape?
If we neglect Christ’s admonition to practise denying self and putting to death carnality, the devil will make his case that God’s promise doesn’t hold. However, most of His promises are contingent on our active response and obedience to His Word.
The immediate case in point is in the following verse, 1 Corinthians 10:14: Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
Idolatry isn’t confined to the worshipping of statues. It can take the form of a person, hobby, addiction or any preoccupation which consumes us and has taken the place of God.
So, what must we do if we want God’s way of escape from sin’s entrapment? We act on God’s Word and flee. Will God do that for us supernaturally? No! We act in obedience then He empowers us. That’s how God operates and there’s no other way.
In His Incarnation, Christ demonstrated how any child of God can overcome the fiery darts of temptation by using the Sword of God’s Word to defeat Satan. Even as the Son of God, He found it necessary to constantly watch and pray so that He would not enter into temptation.
Having passed all the tests and temptations that plague humanity, the Lord not only shows us a perfect example of an overcomer, but He has also become our High Priest who helps us in every possible way.
For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. (Hebrews 2:18)
Our Saviour understands our plight profoundly because He Himself went through it all. So instead of shying away from His presence because of shame in moments of temptation, come boldly to Him for strength. He understands our great need so let’s come boldly to the throne of grace.
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16)
Always remember this: Jesus our High Priest and Advocate knows that none of us is completely immune to temptation; hence, He keeps interceding for us before the Father’s throne. Therefore, learn to flee from sin and run to Him even after we’ve stumbled. Then pick up quickly, ask for His strength and continue our journey with our Shepherd. In this training process, we’ll get stronger and better.