Summary: Lucifer fights a spiritual war, and therein lies the real battlefield . . . the spiritual realm.
It’s been said, “I wouldn’t be tempted ... if temptation .... wasn’t so tempting.”
Oscar Wilde described it this way, “I can resist anything.... except temptation,”
which brings me to today’s Scripture from Luke 4:
READ LUKE 4:1-13
There’s a story about a boy in a grocery store which illustrates the nature of temptation quite nicely. It seems the boy was standing near an open box of peanut butter cookies when the grocer approached him. “Now then, young man,” said the grocer, “What are you up to?” “Nothing,” replied the boy.
“Well it looks to me like you were trying to take a cookie,” the grocer pointed to the open box. “Oh you’re so wrong, mister!..... I’m trying not to!”
Now that’s temptation!! I’m trying not to! Maybe you’ve heard someone say, “The Devil made me do it!” Granted, it began as a joke, but some may think it’s a convenient defense. But there’s just one problem; the Devil cannot make us do anything. He can tempt us but not force us. On the other hand, it may feel different when your faith and your desires disagree.
Lucifer’s primary goal and strategy is to make them disagree. Primarily, he wants us to disagree about Jesus. A minister once pointed out that, “All the warnings in the New Testament concerning conflicts with Satan are addressed only to believers. Why? Because he doesn’t want us to believe God.”
In John 14:6, Jesus says, “No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you really do know Him and have seen Him.” Jesus also said, “All that belongs to the Father is mine.” (Jn 16:15) The relationship between the Father and the Son is inseparable. The connection between them runs both ways, and our enemy will do anything to keep us from believing that Truth.
Lucifer is committed to doing whatever’s necessary to make us ineffective – in our personal lives and in our personal ministries. By doubting the Father or the Son, we doubt both. That makes us . . . ineffective.
James 1:13 says, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.” “Dragged away” from what? He’s dragged away from faith in God.
When we give into temptations, we reveal a lack of faith that God can protect us from temptation.
Notice that I said, “protect us from temptation” and not “keep us from being tempted.” In this world, temptations are everywhere. Some are huge; some are small, but none of them are from God – “for God does not tempt anyone.” The strategy behind temptation is to make us ineffective witnesses for Christ. If we’re ineffective, we hurt others and especially the church!
The enemy knows full well that he was defeated at the Cross, but he’s fully committed to taking as many of us with him as he can. He doesn’t fight fair. He fights a spiritual war, and that’s the real battlefield . . . the spiritual realm.
1 Peter 5:8-9, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith. . . .”
Unfortunately, far too many people have the wrong idea concerning the word “Resist”. Somewhere along the way, “resisting Satan” was changed to “ignore Satan” or better yet for Satan, just don’t believe that he exists at all!
You know the expression, “Keep your friends close – and your enemies closer.” The logic of those words lies in the reality that you should never underestimate the damage the enemy can do when you don’t know what he’s doing. By denying the existence of real evil, you empower it. When you define temptation as nothing more than a “natural urge” or an “innocent mistake”, you fail to see the true damage it can do – emotionally and spiritually.
Where did we ever get the idea that the best approach to dealing with Satan is to dismiss and ignore him as nothing more than a fantasy or theological myth? Maybe when we made our sciences into gods? The problem is that “Passive Neglect” is a poor tactic to use against any adversary.
Standing against the enemy’s attacks is not a task to be taken lightly. Our enemy is a cunning and relentless adversary. His mastery of evil enables him to fashion lewd temptations or fling fiery darts with amazing accuracy. He may not have the power to read your mind, but then, he doesn’t have to. He already knows your basic nature, and all he has to do is appeal to it.