Summary: God has promised to provide a way of escape for every temptation we face. Because of this there is no need for us to fall repeatedly into sin. We must learn to lean on His strength to keep us strong during temptation.
“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
A. Tempted to seek a lawful thing in an unlawful way—(Matthew 4:3 (quickview) ,4) “And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
B. Tempted to make a public display of His power for the honor of His own name. (Matthew 4:6 (quickview) ) “And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
C. Tempted to accomplish God’s plan, but not in God’s way—(Matthew 4:8 (quickview) ,9) “Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” It was God’s will to give to Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in all their glory. Satan’s temptation to His was to step out of God’s plan, avoid the cross with all its agony and receive the promised blessings from the Father without fulfilling the Father’s will. Satan is constantly ready to offer all the promises of God to anyone who will step out of God’s will to receive them. Abram tried to hasten God’s will when he took Hagar to bear the promised son. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God. To substitute anything else to try to win the world is to fall to the temptation of the enemy.
D. Tempted to save Himself from the cross. (Matthew 27:40-43 (quickview) ) “Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.”
II. Learn the difference between temptation and sin.
Many people struggle to know the difference between temptation and sin. Temptation itself is not sin. It is helpful to understand these facts about temptation:
A. God created us with natural desires
1. Hunger for food
2. Desire to be accepted
3. Desire to be loved and to love
B. Temptation is only possible through Satan’s appeal to our natural desires
C. Temptation occurs when Satan stimulates a natural desire and offers to fulfill it in a way that is sinful
D. Sin occurs when our will unites with the desire that Satan has kindled in the mind. When we make the decision to pursue the wrong desire, it is then that it becomes sin.