Let's take a look at what the Bible has to say about temptation, and how we can gain victory over it in our lives.
We first find reference to this subject in the third chapter of Genesis,
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?"
The woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.' "
The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit, and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:1-6 NASB)Notice how the serpent enticed Eve. He placed doubt into her mind, twisting the very words of God. He caused her to question what God had commanded, even the extent of the command. He caused her to question the consequences of disobedience to the command of God by telling her that she would not die, and instead she will be like God, knowing good from evil. Her passion was aroused as she looked at the fruit, and she ate, thus sinning against God.
James tells us that the power of temptation lies in the arousal of our passions. We read,
But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. (James 1:14-15 NASB)We all have desires, we all see things that we would like to have, or like to do. The problem is that these things are not always right. Sometimes, a thought enters our minds, a desire to do something that is wrong. What we now do with this desire determines if we live or die spiritually. When we continue to gaze upon the forbidden fruit, That is, to think upon our desire, to let it grow within our hearts, we will find that object more and more attractive, and we will also find ourselves more and more willing to commit the evil act. Our conscience will become quiet within us, or rather, we will drown it out, as we seek to justify our action, much like Eve, as she listened to what the serpent had to say. We sin when we give in to the gratification of our desires. This is something that we have all experienced, and far too many of us still experience the bitter reality of failure in our Christian lives as well.
We often find consolation in telling ourselves that we are too weak, the temptation is too strong, and we just cannot help ourselves. Some of us may fancy that our situation is unique to us, and no one else can understand the temptations that we face. Again, the Word of God speaks to this as well,
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. (1 Cor 10:13 NASB)This verse tells us that our temptations are not unique to us, that others face the same things that we do, and that God Himself knows our limits, and will not allow the temptation to be more that we can endure. He is faithful to provide the way of escape. We have no excuse, we can say no to sin! This is a solemn verse in that it strips away our feeble excuses and our poor attempts at justifying our actions. We should at the same time be encouraged, that we can face temptation and gain victory over the sins that so easily beset us (Heb 12:1).
Jesus faced temptation in the same way that we do. (Matt 4:1-11; Mark 1:13; Luke 4:1-13). We read that even though He was tempted Just as we are, yet He did not sin (Heb 4:15). Satan tried to reach Jesus through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. He twisted scripture, but Jesus recognized this. How important it is for us to know and understand the Word of God as well. It is a powerful weapon to use when we are assailed by the enemy of our souls as well, but it does us no good if we do not know the scriptures inside out, and hide them within our hearts, like we would hide a valuable treasure (Psalm 119:11).
We find hope and consolation in the fact that because He was tempted, Jesus, as our great high priest, can sympathize with our weaknesses. We read,
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb 4: 14-16 NASB)Far too often we will approach the throne of grace for pardon after we have fallen. While it is true that we have an advocate with God the Father in the person of Jesus Christ (1 John 2:1), and we can and should go to Him with the guilt of our sin, how much more should we go to Him for the wisdom and grace we need to escape temptation before we sin? Jesus was tempted in the things that He suffered. He is able to come to our aid (Heb 2:18). As we have seen, through Christ, we can be over comers. We do not need to fall, in fact, we have everything needful to not fall!