WebDef: Temptation

Temp·ta·tion /tem(p)ˈtāSH(ə)n/ – Noun: An urge to pull away from what is wise, right, and good.

Temptation is seemingly everywhere. Even Jesus, after his baptism and before his public ministry, suffered temptation. His temptations, like our own, spanned three realms: comfort, status, and power. Each time, the devil used crafty language and planted seeds of doubt. Each time, Jesus responded using scripture. The first appealed to Jesus' physical hunger (greed/lust, cravings/aversions); the second appealed to a pride that would control God or push for proof (to resolve dangers, doubts, and fears, or to impress others), and the third appealed to the vanity of worldly power and control. Such control would come at a price: Jesus must bow down to the evil one. For each temptation, Jesus was ready with a scriptural response, and always left the power with God. This is an excellent example, and one that we can follow, for ourselves. Here are a few key verses on temptation:

Select Key Bible Verses on Temptation

  • And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil – The Lord's Prayer
  • Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed-James 1:12-14
  • But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. – 1 Timothy 6:9-10
  • Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. – 1 Peter 5:8
  • Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. – James 4:6
  • There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.- 1 Corinthians 10:13
  • Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone [Deut. 8:3], but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "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.' [Deut. 6:16]" Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve. [Deut. 6:13]" Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

Handling Temptation

  • Be watchful and discerning. Notice what is a temptation. Look for a way out, knowing that God promises a way of escape (Corinthians 10:13). This may be to avoid the situations where temptation lives. For example, if the temptation is to drink at a bar on the way home, use another route.
  • Be prayerful. Ask God for help to stay on course, or to get back on track. Leave aside self-judging or self-condemnation, remembering the words of St. Paul, who teaches that there is no condemnation in Christ (Romans 8:1).
  • Seek help. There is a saying in Alcoholics Anonymous: "you're only as sick as your secrets." Getting help is a sign of great strength. There are other useful sayings from the movement, including "HALT" – a reminder not to make decisions when you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired, because those are moments when you are more prone to succumb to temptation.
  • Remember grace. Though you may stumble, fresh grace is available at all times, from God's generous loving kindness. Don't let the accusing voice in your head tell you it's too late to move in a good direction. For it is written, "The steps of a good person are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand." (Psalm 37:23-24)

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WebDefs – simple definitions of key terms relating to ministry and healing arts – are a regular feature of NHM Ministrants. Offered (where applicable) in conjunction with select key scriptural passages and analysis, WebDefs can be a useful starting place for exploring a topic of interest.

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