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There are several things to consider regarding this subject. Perhaps it would be good to start with the strategies of Satan. Peter said the devil is our adversary (1 Peter 5:8), which is a “legal enemy” who slanders, like in a court of law. The devil desires to create tension between two people to drive a wedge. The “two people” are you and the Lord.
He is always prowling, looking for folks to bring his false arguments (2 Corinthians 10:4-6). You must realize that Satan has diabolical plans for you. He is anti-God in every possible way imaginable. He is opposed to anything God desires to promote.
Jesus talked about the devil and his minions as thieves and murderers. They have come to earth to kill, steal, and destroy. Their job is simple: destroy God and His children. Read about how Christ talked about the devil in John 10:10. Part of the accusation you feel is from the spiritual realm.
The devil cannot get your soul, though he can immobilize you, which is why he’s going to hit you with his best shot. Discouraging you is the next best thing to rendering you useless. You’ll see this strategy with the temptations he put before Jesus in Matthew 4:1-3.
He could no more stop Jesus from being God in the flesh than he can stop you from being a Christian, though that won’t stop him from taking his shots. He can’t revoke your salvation, but he hopes to paralyze you from actively following Jesus. Do you understand that the nature of the battle consists of Christ’s victory and your active engagement?
Temptations are real, though they can be mysterious to understand. The Bible does not reveal all the aspects of the enticements that lure us, but there are a few things you can learn, so with the strategies of Satan fixed in your mind, let’s move forward. Here are three truths for you to nail down.
Satan has a strategy, but we’re not innocent. There’s another “problem player” in this scenario. Ever since Adam did his deal in the garden, humanity has had a desire to be like the devil. The essence of Adam’s sin was unbelief, which is our way of saying, “I don’t need God; I know better.” Even as regenerated people, we are not sinlessly perfect. You know this.
There continues to be a desire to live out a lack of submission to the Lord. For example, think about the last time you were frustrated, irritated, angry, ticked off, or whatever word you want to substitute for sinful anger. At that moment, you were acting out your unbelief: “I don’t need God; I know better; I am going to do it my way, not God’s way.”
Anger is one of the most common ways we reject God, which is why I’m using this illustration. Sinful anger is functional atheism in the raw; it is more like Satan than Christ. Because this is what we can do, and God knows we can perpetrate such evil, He will allow things in our lives to remind us of who we are and who He is, and how much we need Him.
If you understand why temptation happens, as I have outlined, rather than fixating on your weakness, you should fling yourself on the Lord. Sinful attractions make sense for fallen people, but you can “redeem the temptation.” You can use it for God’s glory as He teaches you to turn to Him each time it comes. If you discern your temptation as an opportunity to trust God, the temptation is not necessarily a bad thing, but a way to accomplish progress in your sanctification.
Think about these three truths. How can you own them? What specific ways can you begin to change your mind about your temptations by making these three truths yours? Perhaps jotting down a few thoughts and sharing them with a friend would be useful.
The evil spirit world will seek to lure you by tempting you to sin, but you don’t have to yield to it. Your reaction to temptation is not your strength, but God’s. Fighting temptation is not supposed to be your job. Paul talked about this in Corinthians when he said that you have divine power to win this battle, not fighting with human means (2 Corinthians 10:4). The evil demons of the spiritual world would love nothing more than to create a stronghold to capture you.
I understand why you’re asking if it will wear you down. It will if you don’t learn how to resist the devil, which brings you back to not understanding the nature of the battle. If you fight him, it will weaken you while accelerating the desire to yield to sin. You will give up the fight. You may walk away from the faith.
Christians who do not access the divine weaponry the Lord provides for them will not practically live out their faith. For these believers, sin may overthrow their faith and shipwreck their lives. This reality is sobering. You are in warfare, no doubt. James talked about it this way:
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death (James 1:14-15).
Let me speak plainly: your heart will always desire sinful things. Recurring temptation does not necessarily mean you have not changed. It means you are in a war, and the enemy is relentless. There will never be a season in your earthly life where you won’t encounter sinful fascinations for something. But your fallenness does not have to immobilize you.
What you don’t want to do is become immobile. There is a complicating temptation that plops down on your recurring one. That is the “woe is me; there is that temptation again” mantra. You play it over and over again in your head, which is what Paul called a stronghold (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).
Ongoing temptation means you’re alive, well, and in the battle of your life. It means God is busy working with you. You’re not dead yet, and the enemy sees you as a threat. It also means the Lord desires to keep you focused on Him. Your struggles with weakness are part of the process of the Lord strengthening you by His grace (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Typically, Christians do not think about the purpose and timing of grace. You only receive grace when you need it—at the time of temptation. And those moments are when you are weak. The time for grace is at a tempting moment, and the purpose of grace is when you’re at your weakest.
So, rather than seeing your temptation and accompanying weakness as a downer, change your mind about the matter. The Lord is using that moment to make you strong through Christ (Philippians 4:13). It’s similar to when the Lord saved you, (assuming you are a Christian).
You were weak and helpless (Psalm 40:1-3). The weeds of sin had trapped you (Jonah 2:5), and you felt the hopelessness of your inability for self-rescue. Rather than continually focusing on your depravity, you cried out to God (Acts 16:25-31). What happened? Read Ephesians 2:8-9. And what was your response? Gratitude!
It is God’s kindness to you to allow negative things into your life if those temptations motivate you to recalibrate your thoughts. When the tempting comes, there is a call to decide between good and evil. The crossroad of temptation will prompt you to lurch for grace or be overcome by evil. Paul’s words are instructive when he thought about the strengthening effect of grace.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
Don’t bemoan the temptation. See it as your opportunity to cooperate with God by appropriating His grace in the moment of your weakness. And through your inability, you will experience the strength (power) of the gospel. Your cooperation with the Lord will defeat the enemy, fortify you, and put God on display.
Only God can use your sin sinlessly, and when you understand this, the frustrating temptation that the devil means for evil will be for your good (Genesis 50:20). How ironic, as it pictures the gospel. Christ dying on the cross was the wisdom and power of God, though it looked disappointedly weak and foolish at the time (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).
Your ongoing temptation does not necessarily mean you have not changed. Of course, if you keep yielding to temptation, you may not have changed. The word in view here is not the temptation but the yielding. And even though you may fall occasionally, it’s your practice of getting up again and again, until the temptation loses its force in your life (Proverbs 24:16).
I’m not calling to you perfection, but making a strong appeal for you to fight the right way. Hopefully, these questions below will serve you as you cooperate with the Lord’s good work in your life.