Temptation: its Nature, its Sources, the Means of Resistance, and its Uses
James 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.
1 Corinthians 10:13 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.
Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
I. The nature of the temptation.
To tempt is to try. We tempt a person when we put him to the test. This may be done:
1. To see what he will do, as when men tempt God. They put his patience, his power, his fidelity to the test; or call upon him for proof of his being what he is.
2. To show what is in the person tempted, as when God tempts man. Thus God is represented as trying his people, to bring their faith or patience into exercise and to render them conspicuous for the benefit of others.
3. This tempting may have for its object to lead into sin, as when Satan tempted Eve, Christ, and the wicked at all times. We are concerned with temptation to sin in this study.
II. Sources of such temptations.
What are some sources and kinds of temptation we all might face?
1. The world, which includes men and all earthly things.
First, the world presents the objects of our natural desires.
What are the objects of our natural desires?
Second, it presents objects to excite inordinate or unholy desires.
Name some unholy affections.
It holds up to wealth its honors, its pleasures for our pursuit, and by them the great majority of men are led into perdition.
Third, the world tempts as much by its threats as by its solicitations.
Name some ways we might be threatened into sinning by the world.
It threatens contempt, neglect, persecution, hatred.
Fourth, the men of the world seduce by their example and their principles, by their arguments and persuasions, by their denunciations and wrath.
2. The flesh, i.e., our corrupt nature, the evil heart, the remains of sin.
This is the impelling power which leads to sin. So far as the world is concerned it has little or no power, except so far as it tends to excite what is evil. This is not intended to indicate that a believer may not be tempted, as were Adam and Christ. But simply that the power of what is outward to lead into sin depends mainly on the evil that is within. Every man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed.
What does lust mean?
This term, lust, includes; 1st, the desires or appetites of the body; 2nd, the evil dispositions of the mind, pride, envy, malice, vanity, etc.
3. The devil. He is the great tempter. He tempted our first parents, David, Judas, Christ, Ananias and Sapphira. He tempts the children of disobedience and the people of God. They are cautioned against his devices and called upon to resist him.
Who do we know about the temptations of Satan?
First, that he does tempt the children of men, all men; us as well as others.
Second, how he does this we do not know.
Third, we cannot distinguish between his temptations and the suggestions of our own evil hearts, any more than we can between the leading of the Spirit and our own exercises.
Fourth, the temptations of Satan are subtle, powerful and greatly to be dreaded; not to be despised or made light of. Most men are led captive by him at his will.
Besides these general sources of temptation common to all men, there are others peculiar to particular times of life– youth, manhood and age; to particular seasons, as of prosperity and of adversity; to particular professions, etc.
III. Means of resisting temptation.
These are not the lessons of Philosophy, which teach the means of cultivating virtue. They are all supernatural or divine.
What are some of the biblical ways we can resist temptation?
1. Watch and pray lest you fall into temptation. Exercise the utmost care against the occasions and the beginnings of evil, and constantly look to God to protect you from being tempted, and to deliver you when temptation comes. He has taught us to say daily, Lead us not into temptation.
2. Another means is instant resistance. Let there be no playing around with evil. This is applicable to all kinds of temptations.
3. Faith in Christ, i.e., believing appeals to him as our Savior, our King to protect us from all our spiritual enemies.
What are the uses, of temptation?
1. They teach us our weakness and reveal the evil that is within us.
2. They teach us to depend on God.
3. They exercise and strengthen our graces.
4. They qualify us to sympathize with others and to aid them.
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