How often do men fall for temptation! How truly can we escape it because of the One who has overcome it! Even believers at times in their strong godliness fall for temptation when they let off their guard. Temptation comes from the devil. All men are susceptible to it and hence, we see the various acts of evil. Believers are targets of Satan for temptation so that they lose or miss the good things of God and much more, suffer Him. Sometimes God allows us to be tempted by the devil so we become better persons; He wills to endure. Though the devil finds victory, it is nonetheless fleeting. Temptation causes suffering and state of indecision. People do the things they ought not to do, because of it. When tempted, we are put to the test and our endurance for obedience comes to the fore. There’s not a man on earth that escapes temptation. It is the work of the devil to make men sin and hence, he uses temptation as a choice weapon.
Every temptation has a way of escape. It is provided by God at the right time if we endure. Yet, at times we do not endure owing to various factors and so, fall for it. God calls us to endure every temptation, because He has a way of escape for each of them. In enduring we learn the mysteries of the Kingdom, since we become more dependable and intimate with God. God begins to use us through our endurance. Jesus is the best example there is for enduring temptations. After 40 days of fasting He was tested by God. “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matt. 4:1). God allowed Satan to tempt Him after suffering in the flesh. At that excruciating moment Christ held on to obedience to the Father and did not lose His holiness. There are extreme ways to temptation, yet not one of them is without escape. The escape lies in our obedience to His commands. As long as we are obeying, God strengthens us and we eventually escape. His strength leads to a way out.
God allows all believers to be tempted so that they are known to Him by their obedience. In fact, in doing so He helps to discover ourselves in relation to Him. When we do not fall, we rejoice. When we fall, we realize the power of temptation by the pain and consequences it gives; we receive the knowledge of sin, its intent and when God makes us stand again, we realize His power to overcome sin. We become stronger against temptation. When we are being tempted for something, it is a sign that God has put us there to overcome it. He has reserved a reward for us. He knows beforehand that temptation is about to confront us. He wants us to obey Him. And if we did not stand, it is because we momentarily looked away from His word. “As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’ And he got up and followed Him” (Mark 2:14). The devil always has a temptation to make us fall. But it is only when the commands of Christ rest in us that it fails to overcome us. As people in the flesh, it is difficult to constantly contain His commands in us. But the often we do, the more intimate we become with Him. The more intimate we are with Him, the lesser the chances of falling for temptation.
God allowed the devil to tempt Jesus to show that temptation is common to man and that there is a way of escape to it through obedience. Satan throws various temptations at us with varying degrees of strength. And all of them have a way of escape with God. As the Spirit elsewhere said, God too does not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able. So, by the measure of faith and obedience in us we are allowed to be tempted, but not more. As we overcome God gives us more to do. If one has received more from God, it is because he or she has endured temptation and overcame it more often. In doing so, they gathered up more heavenly treasure for themselves. If one has less or does not have any, it means they do not fight against temptation with God given talent. And Jesus said, “I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away” (Luke 19:26). We have because we please God by overcoming Satan. In the parable of minas the one who was given 1 mina has no desire to exercise obedience and did not consider faith in the Master a value. Satan quickly stole away the word from him. But the one who has 10 minas overcame and became productive. When one follows the Lord and works in His will to receive a reward, it is never without overcoming many temptations.
Falling to temptation takes away even the things we have. We may think of losing the materialistic things, but more importantly we are depleted of spiritual things; we thereby lose joy, peace and comfort. Until and unless we are again intimate with God, we do not recover. There are advantages of overcoming temptation as well as advantages to fully recovering from any loss incurred by the same.
- We stand for the truth. In the Bible we learn of a person named Apollos. He had to resist a great temptation to say the things he did in public. “For he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ” (Acts 18:28). It takes great courage to stand against falsity. And he did it, since he depended on God to use the talent He gave him. He could have simply confided with the Jews. But he overcame so that Christ was preached.
- We master deception. Paul said, “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise” (1 Cor. 3:18). We deceive ourselves if we fall for temptation. It is because we considered ourselves wise. But when God rises up again we come to know we have become fools. Again, in the process of resisting temptation we understand how foolish we can become, if we fall for it. And thus, gather the knowledge God avails about it to become wise.
- We mature. We mature to become better servants of God. God in His mercy continues to rescue us from temptations so that we understand the power of sin as well as His grace. He trains us by allowing us to face various temptations so that we do not lose focus on that which we are to receive. “Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything” (Gal. 4:1). We face temptations like everyone else, but we receive that which God avails only in grace. Then we master temptation.
- We serve. “For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision” (Tit. 1:10). We serve the Lord by speaking against false voices with the treasures of heaven revealed to us. The word of God gains precedence among those who seek to destroy it with the power of sin. Rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers are all under the power of temptation. They were caught by it to be that way. But we have overcome it through Christ and hence, refute them.