Temptation can be described as an enticement or inducement to either commit sin or do something wrong, by promise of pleasure or gain.
Temptation itself is not sin, but succumbing to it is sin. Satan is the brain or the unseen hand behind every temptation. God does not tempt anyone, as affirmed by James 1:13-16, ‘
’Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man. But every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren.’’
As pilgrims whose ultimate eternal destination is heaven, Christians constantly face diverse temptations in this world. Usually, Satan identifies the immediate needs, or weak-points cum shortcomings of people and then targets them as potential objects or instruments for temptation. For instance, while preparing for His earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus Christ was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1).
Matthew 4:2-4 says,
‘’And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward hungry. And when the tempter came to him, he said, if you are the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, it is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’’
Generally, Satan uses certain subtle means and things that are likely to appeal to a man’s appetite, to tempt him. Obviously aware that the Lord Jesus Christ was famished after a 40-day dry fast, Satan cleverly used the instrumentality of food to tempt Jesus. Unfortunately for Satan, Jesus was and still much wiser than him, hence He never fell for Satan’s dubious offer or ‘Greek gift.’
In Genesis 20:9-11, the same unrelenting Satan used fear and lying to deceive Abraham; he used lust of the eyes to successfully tempt Eve at the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-7); he also used lust and immorality to entrap Sampson (Judges 16:1, 4-14); he then used craze for position cum rebellion against Joab and Absalom (2nd Samuel 15:1-4, 13); he used covetousness to capture King Solomon; and also used love of the world to capture Demas (2nd Timothy 4:10).
Whereas Abraham, Joseph, Daniel, Shedrack, Meschack and Abednego were able to overcome the devil at different times, individuals like Lot, Balaam, Esau, Samson, Joab and Absalom were defeated and destroyed by him.
No human being is above temptation. As a matter of fact, if the devil was not afraid to tempt the Lord Jesus Christ, then no mortal man can escape his temptation. In other words, our level of spirituality can neither intimidate the devil nor exonerate us from being tempted by him.
Today, the devil uses the same strategies or objects of temptation he previously used against our progenitors. Temptations can come in form of seductions from the opposite sex, enticement to steal money or properties, urge to commit fraud or some other crimes. Interestingly, the internet, the social media, smart phones and so on, have enabled the devil to sharpen his instruments of temptation! For instance, the internet is replete with much obscenity and immorality through pornographic websites, and many others.
Nudity is shamelessly exhibited everywhere by many women through their skimpy dresses and so on. All these distractions are being used by the devil nowadays, to tempt the children of God. Sometimes, the devil uses pride (Proverbs 6:17); lack of forgiveness (Ephesians 4:32); anger or bitterness (Ephesians 4:31); idleness or sluggishness (1st Timothy 5:13) and others, to tempt individuals who are not spiritually alert.
Satan can also tempt a couple, if given the opportunity. Little wonder, 1st Corinthians 7:5 says, ‘’Deprive not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your lack of self-control.’’
Inability to resist the devil’s temptation will automatically lead to sin, which is cancerous and destructive. However, God’s children can always triumph over the devil by quoting appropriate Scriptures to him. This is in accordance with the spiritual blueprint of the Lord Jesus Christ who used relevant Scriptures to counter and dismiss the devil’s negative suggestions.
Furthermore, James 4:7 says, ‘’Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.’’ That is to say, we must not negotiate or engage the devil in any dialogue whenever he comes up with his temptations. Instead, we must rebuke and resist him, in order to escape the danger and dare consequences of succumbing to his temptations.