No one is immune to temptation. It is familiar to us all. It entered the human experience at the beginning of time and is one of the three most common ways the enemy attacks us. The Scriptures give many examples of the temptations of the saints and provide wisdom to help us if we will heed it.
The first instance is found in Genesis 3, the story of the fall of man. No doubt, we are all familiar with the details, however; there are a couple of things I want to point out. First, the enemy lies to Adam and Eve, telling them that God has lied to, and withheld something valuable from them. (v. 4-5) At that moment, a seed of doubt was sown into their minds about the trustworthiness of their Creator. This seed of doubt, this thought, was the impetus for the temptation.
The thought, when dwelled upon, caused the first couple to consider their options. If God couldn’t be trusted and was withholding something of value from them, what was it? Eve looked at the fruit, turning her focus away from the One who had freely given them everything their hearts could long for. She chose to turn her attention to that which He had not given them, and had actually forbidden them to have. In doing so, she “saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” (v. 6)
There are three main areas the enemy targeted – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. The lust of the flesh involves satisfying our appetites. The lust of the eyes speaks of greed, envy, and coveting that which we do not have. The pride of life includes that which we can achieve or accomplish. 1 John 2:16 further confirms this, “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.”
Jesus was tempted in the same ways during His time in the wilderness. (Matthew 4:1-11) We, too, have been or will be, tempted in these areas. It is not a sin to be tempted; it is a part of life in this fallen world and will be until Jesus returns. Many years ago, a former pastor said to me, “Temptation is about fulfilling a legitimate, God-given need, in an illegitimate way.” God has given us valid needs and desires that we cannot deny. He has promised to meet every need and longing of our heart when we seek Him first. Our part is to trust Him. Every temptation we face is another opportunity to trust Him.
When those seeds of doubt come and the devil whispers in our ear, “Did God really say…?” we must keep our eyes fixed on Him and remember, “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.” (Heb. 4:15) The One who overcame all temptation lives within us that we also might overcome!