“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.”
In this article, I will share on a subject that I believe is often overlooked in the basic teachings of Christianity. Because of this oversight, Christians are often left to “fend” for themselves, thus the flock scattered and seemingly left without hope or answers. This is tragic because the end result is often discouragement heaped with a healthy dose of condemnation.
Temptation is Not Sin
The subject I refer to is “temptation” and believe it or not, it is not a dirty word. Every child of God faces, and will face, temptation numerous times while upon this earth. It is of utmost importance that believers understand that temptation in and of itself is not sin! What we do with the temptation we face determines it becoming sin or not. All temptation, regardless of form or how it is received, comes from the enemy. God never tempts anyone with evil.
Our enemy knows well the weaknesses of humankind! He is not referred to as the “most subtle” without good reason. Like any good soldier going into battle, knowledge of the strategies of your enemy gives great advantage. Through the Scriptures the Lord has prepared the Christian soldier for warfare.
Know Our Enemy’s Strategies of Temptation
First of all, the enemy always cheats, and will attack by appealing to the desires of human nature. These desires include appealing to our love of beautiful things, pride, and hunger. We can call these areas of attack, “the lust of the flesh”, “the lust of the eyes,” and “the pride of life” (I John 2:16). Every temptation that comes at us will appeal to one or all three! In the Garden of Eden, Eve was tempted with all three and so was Jesus during His period of temptation in the wilderness. This brings me to the main point: the temptation of Jesus and how that relates to us.
Our enemy holds no punches and will attack from all directions. Sometimes multiple directions in one assault. He tempted Jesus from multiple directions. We find the account concerning the three ways Jesus was tempted in Matthew, chapter 4. The serpent of old hurled three vicious temptations at Jesus: “command these stones to turn to bread,” appealed to His hunger; “throw yourself down,” appealed to His pride; and “all these things I will give you if you will fall down and worship me,” appealed to His like of beautiful things, all three fall under the desires of human nature, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
Jesus’ Temptation Gives Us an Example
Now, we have learned the strategy employed by our enemy in assaulting us, but what about our counterattack and weapons of war? Let us go back to Matthew, chapter 4, and see how Jesus handled the situation. In corresponding order, let’s listen to Jesus’ reply to each assault: “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,” “You shall not tempt the Lord your God,” and “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.” Alas! Jesus used His Sword, the Word of God, to counterattack the enemy! What was the end result? “Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.”
We Are Not Alone in Our Temptation
Temptation is a serious matter and can bring great distress to the believer. The attacks are often very intense and always strike at our most venerable weaknesses. That said, we are not left orphaned without the care of our Shepherd. It brings us great comfort to know that “we have a High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses, was in all points tempted as we are, yet remained without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
Of equal comfort are the words of the Lord in I Corinthians 10:12-13:
“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 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.”
This scripture does not indicate that God is the tempter, Satan is, and God will not allow him to go beyond what we are able to withstand.
Beloved, God, in His mercies, has taught us the strategy of attack employed by our enemy, as well as, the weapon we use to overcome him. Remember, temptation of itself is not sin; it is how we respond that births sin. I pray that in our time of temptations, we use them as a means to strengthen our Lord’s overcoming power in us, and not allow them to merely be the exposure of our weaknesses. We are engaged in the battle, but the enemy has already lost the war. Beloved, “fight the good fight of faith!”