Back in the day there used to be a comedian, Flip Wilson who popularized the phrase, “the Devil made me do it” (telling my age) to avoid taking responsibility for his behavior. Though the Devil may entice us, he can’t make us do anything. When we hear the word "temptation", we often associate it with sexual sins but there are a multitude of ways that we can be tempted. It is not a sin to be tempted and no one is exempt. It becomes sin when we fall into the temptation.
When we fall into temptation it could cost us our marriage, put us in a huge financial hole, ruin someone else's life, cause us to lose our house, our jobs, go to jail or even die. The end goal of temptation is to always to draw us into sin, things that will lead us into opposition of the Word and the will of God.
So, where do temptations come from? I used to think that God did the tempting to see if we would fall for whatever the temptation was, but James 1:13-16 says, “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. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. We also see in 1 Peter 5:8 that we have an adversary who is the devil who tempts us. We are told to, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." We have to be on the alert as the Devil who is also called the tempter is always looking to tempt us to fall into sin.
A man approached me once and asked if I was married. I told him that I was, and he asked if I was happy. At that time, there was trouble in my marriage, and this was an opening from the tempter for me to think about it, go into some dialogue with the man back and forth and eventually slip right into an affair. Maybe not that day, maybe not that person but he wanted to put something on my mind to get into my heart to ultimately succumb to the temptation.
There are three main areas or categories of temptation - 1 John 2:15-16 says, "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 (what we feel) and the lust of the eyes (what we see) and pride of life (our desires)—is not from the Father but is from the world."
Let me give you a few examples of where someone could be tempted.
A businessman away on a trip, has all the channels on his television in his hotel room including pornography.
A dad looking for work with finances dwindling has been offered an opportunity to make some fast money in an illegal way.
Someone struggling with a drinking problem, have been given an invitation to happy hour.
A person who strongly desires to move up the ladder at their job has heard some gossip about the other applicant that could possibly jeopardize the position for them.
Reasons we give ourselves to yield to temptations and scriptures to tell you otherwise:
It feels good, it can’t be wrong. (Remember the song, "If loving you is wrong, I don’t want to be right.")
No one will know. But for sure, God will. Nothing is hidden from him.
It will just be this one time. Once is too much and usually is not enough.
Everyone is doing it. Just because everyone is doing it, doesn't make it right.
God understands, He will forgive me. There are consequences to sin. John 5:14 Remember Jesus told the blind man, go and sin no more lest a worse thing come upon you.
What’s the solution? Though temptations can be strong God has promised us a way out.
1 Corinthians 10:13, says, "The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure." The key is to take the way out and not dismiss it. Also, James 4:7 says, "Submit to God, resist the devil and He will flee." It doesn’t mean He won’t come back but we must continue the process.
As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit, the moment we receive Christ as our Savior, he indwells us. We are told in John 16:13 that the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth. He gives us nudges internally when things are not right. When we feel those nudges, we need to obey them.
We have also been given a spiritual armor to fight against our enemy. Ephesians 6:10-18 says, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which, you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—"
Know your areas of weakness, even if you have overcome that area. Don't test it. This is protecting you.
Others may be able to handle situations or places where you may sin. Don’t accept an invitation if it is a source of temptation for you.
Beware of the urge to hang out with worldly friends of the past. You are asking for trouble.
Seek out a Christian accountability partner. Ask God to show them to you.
Be careful of rehearsing the past or "good old days" this could lead you backwards.
Jesus was tempted by the devil during His forty days in the wilderness, but he never sinned (Matthew 4:1-11). Hebrews 4:15 says, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin." It is comforting to know that Jesus is able to understand what we go through when we are tempted. We can put our trust in him!