There are three fundamental reasons why a careful study of the Biblical evidence of temptation is vital to a Christian’s very existence.
I. Temptation is common to everyone; saved and unsaved.
Scripture tells us that God cannot be tempted. However, it does not stop man and Satan from trying (Matt. 4:6-7) – “’…If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: He shall give His angels charge over you; and, in their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ Jesus said to him, ‘It is written again, you shall not tempt the LORD your God.’” Temptation (or the attempt thereof) shows no partiality; it attacks the rich and the poor; the learned as well as the illiterate.
We have prevalent today a doctrine that tells us that, once a person starts out living for the Lord, that all shall be “rosy;” or, we shall live free from demonic harassment; that if we are living the true life of faith, we shall have no problems: no aches or pains, no relationship problems, no financial struggles. To accept this spiritual position (in its entirety) is a mistake! Every inch of ground between the moment we set out to become a true Christian and our triumphant entrance into eternal glory will be contested by the enemy of our souls! The devil shall use every possible resource at his disposal to ruin, sidetrack and ultimately destroy the Christian and his/her influence in the world.
II. Temptation is frequent in every life of every true believer (Especially in the lives of the those who are really doing something for the Lord). (Eph. 6:13-16) – “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”
You should not be surprised if the devil brings up the same temptation over and over again. It has been testified for years by some of the greatest soldiers of our Lord that they had to contend with the same temptation throughout their whole life. Please remember, friends that Satan does have great power and influence in this world. He carries with him centuries of experience of wrecking true Christian lives.
You will often be attacked by the devil’s temptation when you least expect it; when you are at your most vulnerable. (James 1:12-14) – “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God;’ for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But, each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” In us all it is a Biblical and spiritual fact that there are weaker places than others.
III. Temptation is the battleground from which every true believer must emerge from.
(Heb. 4:15) – “…we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” We will either come forth from this battlefield victorious, or we will be carried off the field of spiritual battle defeated. If/when we come from temptation’s battleground victorious, we emerge from the battle(s) even stronger in our faith and love for God.
One thing (I believe) we must mention at this point that not everyone who is defeated through temptation go into the battle intentionally or willfully. Many find themselves in the battle for their spiritual lives all the while they are deceived; and thus, they become defeated. Please remember this: Being deceived does not excuse one from their spiritual responsibility. (2 Cor. 11:3) – “…I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
There are people in our world today that started out spiritually well. Then as they allowed themselves to be deceived, temptation came in a horrible way and overtook them. You can talk with them today and they will say that they miss those days of peace and victory. Yet when asked if they would repent and return unto God, they just cannot bring themselves to start down that path. They are more fearful of failure than they are of God.
There is a doctrine that teaches “once saved, always saved” flies in the very face of Scripture. Yet, let’s look at this in a more practical way. Why does the Bible warn us of the pitfalls of temptation if it is impossible to walk away from our relationship with Christ and be lost once again?