“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Matthew 6:13 ESV
I remember when I was a little girl and would enjoy singing gospel hymns, even if I had no clue what the lyrics really meant. One song that comes to mind is “Yield not to temptation for yielding is sin, each victory will help you, some other to win. Fight manfully onward dark passions subdue look ever to Jesus He will carry you through…” Does anyone else remember this song?
Now that I’m older, the meaning of temptation has become multi-dimensional. It’s not only about lustful passions but it’s about resisting the urge to behave in a manner contrary to the will of God.
You would have to be living under a rock to not recognize the accelerated rate of evil that has been unleashed in the earth. What’s mind-blowing is the impact the demonic activity is having on the body of Christ. The division among the Saints has turned into chasms with many men and women of God falling into the pit as they turn away from Jesus Christ. One of the most challenging threats to the Christian believer is being lured from God through temptation.
Let’s look at how the Bible defines temptation. In the old Testament, temptation in Hebrew means nasah which is to “test, prove, tempt.” The most noted test was when God instructed Abraham to offer Isaac up as a sacrifice and Abraham obeyed God. Of course, we know God ultimately provided a ram for Abraham to sacrifice instead of his beloved son Isaac but God was testing Abraham’s faith and Abraham passed the test through his obedience (read Gen. 22).
In the New Testament, there are several different words for temptation. We will look at two of the most common meanings. Peirazo is Greek which means “to put to the test” as in examining one’s validity and integrity of their faith in God. Then there is the Greek word periasmos which means to be “provoked to sin”. We know that God will not lead you or provoke you to sin by way of temptation, as we see in Matt. 6:13 “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” The Contemporary English Version, (CEV) says it this way, “Keep us from being tempted and protect us from evil.” Matt. 6:13. Also, found in James 1:13 “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.” There are other Scriptures that clearly express God is not your tempter but it’s Satan. This article will focus on various temptations that can lead to sin and test your faith.
There are many ways for you to be tempted however we will look at five (5) ways temptation hinders you from hearing and doing the will of God for your life which can impede your ability to fulfill your destiny.
Five (5) Ways of Yielding to Temptation:
- Agreement with the world’s systems, culture, mindset
- Carnality versus Spirit-led mindset
- Fear over Faith
- Comparison between you and others
- Complacency versus contentment
Let’s closely examine each one:
1. Coming into agreement with the world’s system instead of committing to God’s way of living and being in the earth is a subtle temptation. Too many Christians have been bamboozled through social media and many other media outlets to participate in the world’s culture by conforming to or complying with schemes that were designed to manipulate you, but offered nothing more than confusion with emotional knee-jerk reactions rooted in fear. These devices come into direct opposition to what God’s word says to be true. Romans 12:2 in The Passion Translation (TPT) reads, “Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.” When you are under the influence of the world, you can unconsciously exalt what it deems to be “facts” over the “truth” found in the word of God. This can cause you to make decisions without seeking Him first and filll you with regret later.
Pay attention to how headlines blare repeated subliminal messages which are part of a plot to generate fear in hopes to cause you to react the way they, the powers and rulers of darkness, desires. It is a control mechanism. We have seen how this has played out when racism is the targeted subject, CRT, violence, abortion, and especially COVID-19, to name a few topics used for manipulation. Fear, Uncertainty, & Doubt (FUD) has been elevated by propaganda and wealth-robbing tactical moves over the past 2+ years. Unfortunately, many believers are double-minded, struggling to balance their belief in God with the ways of the world or those who once were believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, have walked away from the faith altogether, denouncing God and all of this is tied to the stronghold of temptation.
God said in Hebrews 12:25 -27 “See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.” When the world and its opinions and ideals prompts you to action more than the word of God, you cannot abide or remain in God. Your allegiance to the world is a rejection to God. This leaves you susceptible to being shaken and removed. Your judgment has been clouded with the cares of this world (1 John 2:15-17; Mark 4:19) and you’ve lost the ability to hear clearly from God; the one who is speaking to you and warning you.
2. Carnality versus the Holy Spirit of God ruling your life occurs because of temptation. To be “carnal” is to have a fleshly, worldly, sinful mindset or nature. When you are led by the Holy Spirit you will have the power to resist the temptation to follow after the flesh. Often it’s at a weak point that the flesh screams the loudest demanding attention. Weak points occur when we are left vulnerable, open, and exposed to external stimuli. This happens when you are not spending sufficient time in the presence of God, studying and meditating on His Word and allowing the Holy Spirit to minister to you.
The flesh is always competing with the Spirit. They are at war or as the Bible puts it, the carnal mind is at “enmity” with God (Romans 8:7, KJV). Entry points of weakness will open you up to fall into the temptation of carnality. I frequently ask this question, “what are you consuming and is it consuming you?” If you consume more media, politics and false information that comes through external means than the truth that is revealed by consuming the Word of God and feeding your internal spirit-man, you will become prey for the enemy of your soul who hates God, and therefore hates you. Your thought patterns will be shaped by how the world thinks and your behavior will follow. I implore you to overpower the physical carnal nature and shift to the peace and joy of being Spirit-led. You don’t have the luxury of saying ..”it’s human nature, or this is how I am” when the behavior doesn’t align with the will of God.
3. Fear and Faith cannot coexist. It is impossible to please God without faith (Heb. 11:6). God didn’t give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7). The Bible fortifies the premise that we are to operate in faith, (or not to fear) at least 365 times from the Old to the New Testament. As long as you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, your faith will be tested. You must be determined to pass the test.
A few years ago, I developed a training program, “Bust the F.U.D.S. (Fear, Uncertainty, & Doubt Syndrome)” for leaders to examine their leadership style, become aware of fear triggers (we all have them) and learn the dangers of fear-based leadership and how to overcome it. Many leaders have difficulties recognizing when they are leading from a place of fear and not faith. For too long fear triggers controlled how they made decisions that adversely impacted not only themselves but their staff and their organizations. Fearful leaders stifle growth and create an unhealthy and toxic workplace environment. Fear demands control. But so does faith. Faith is what fuels progress. Faith in God, yourself, and your team leads to a high performing, growing, and thriving organization.
It’s mind-blowing to hear believers quote Scriptures while living in fear. It’s apparent that they are carnal-minded and led by fear over faith because of what they say based on how they think which causes them to make decisions from a weak, unsure place rather than making decisions from a confident, informed, Spirit-led position. Carnal Christians struggle with living a double life because of having a double-mind. In the book of James God uses him to deliver strong messages to believers who have a divided heart and are not fully committed to their faith in God. “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:8) also “draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8). You cannot serve God and live like the world.
4. Comparison Game is a losing battle. “Don’t allow admiration of someone reposition into comparison with someone.” It negates how fearfully and wonderfully God created you to be and it sends a message to Him and to you that you’re not enough. What standard would you use that would be God-approved? He declares it’s unwise to compare (2Cor. 10:12). It is so tempting to do so but it is more of a distraction that depletes your energy and causes you to focus on the wrong things. Where others are in their lives has nothing to do with where you are in yours. We must learn to be content which leads us to the next area of temptation.
5. Complacency should not replace contentment. Proverbs 1:32 states “for the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them.” Being complacent is an inhibitor. It distorts your vision and causes you not to press towards doing or being your best. The temptation is to settle for less and convince yourself it’s good enough. I’m not saying the attention is on whether you are good enough, no the focus is on your efforts being substandard and self-serving. An example of being complacent is choosing to procrastinate. There are so many reasons why we procrastinate but I don’t believe any one of us thought of it as a form of being complacent. The temptation to tell yourself that something of importance and of value can wait because you’d rather do something else is the superficial mental response you tell yourself which, if you were being honest, may be attached to fear, the real reason for procrastination. Fear of failure, fear of success, or fear of whatever it might be can be the root cause of procrastinating and this can eventually become a self-fulfilling prophecy where no one benefits. Being complacent robs you of your authenticity.
Contentment is the ability to find satisfaction in any situation (Phil. 4:11). I see it as an opportunity to enjoy what you have, enjoy where you are in life, even if it’s not where you desire to be but to continue to press towards living the life you truly want. You are focused on achieving your God-prescribed destiny with the right attitude that is connected with the right behavior. Contentment is having an attitude of gratitude with the faith in believing you will have all of what God said you can have.
I am certain you can think of many more areas where temptations tend to rise up and try to lure you away from where God wants you to go and do what He expects you to do. Our faith will always be tested. When we are tested, it reveals what we really believe deep down in our soul and we have the chance to make the needful adjustments to win at living a Spirit-led life. This is the abundant life Jesus wants for us, full of hope and great expectation. Remember this, “there isn’t any temptation that you have experienced which is unusual for humans. God who faithfully keeps his promises, will not allow you to be tempted beyond your power to resist. But when you are tempted, he will also give you the ability to endure the temptation as your way of escape” (1Cor. 10:13 GW). You have the victory! Amen!