A critical element in discipleship is training someone how to overcome temptation. While everyone is tempted, particular people are more prone to certain temptations than others.
In order to overcome temptation, let’s identify Satan’s strategy, Jesus’ success, and our steps needed to succeed.
Download Handout – PD 11 – Overcoming Temptation
Satan’s strategy is first seen in Genesis 3, and he doesn’t need to modify his steps since it continues to work.
- Initiation – Satan proactively approaches us to lure us away from fellowship with God (Gen. 3:1).
- Interrogation – Satan knows that doubting God’s Word leads to denying God’s Word (Gen. 3:1).
- Temptation – Once he senses hesitancy in us, Satan tempts us with a sinful option (Gen. 3:2-4).
- Speculation – Satan attempts to convince us that his way will fulfill what we are lacking in our efforts to following God’s way (Gen. 3:4-5).
- Humiliation – Sin always brings about guilt and causes us to hide from intimacy with God and others (Gen. 3:6-10).
- Accusation – Sin causes us to justify our actions by blaming other people (Gen. 3:11-13).
- Frustration – Satan allows us to see the benefits of sin but hides the consequences from us (Gen. 3:14-19).
- Salvation – Despite our willingness to align with Satan, Jesus is willing to pay the consequences for our sin and provide salvation (Gen. 3:15, 21).
In Luke 4, Satan finally experiences defeat after using the same strategy against Jesus.
- Knowing that Satan was coming, Jesus prepared himself spiritually (Luke 4:1).
- Satan came when Jesus was at his weakest physically (Luke 4:1-2).
- The temptation of provision seeks to give the right thing at the wrong time (Luke 4:3).
- The temptation of power seeks to give authority in an illegitimate way (Luke 4:4-8).
- The temptation of protection seeks to provide a false assurance of safety due to our unbelief (Luke 4:9-12).
- Jesus fought temptation with memorized Scripture (Luke 4:4, 7, 12; Ps. 119:11; Eph. 6:17).
- Satan took Scripture out of context in his attempt to lure Jesus into disobedience (Luke 4:9-11).
- Even when Satan loses a battle, he is too committed to the war to give up (Luke 4:13; Eph. 6:10-13).
While Scripture gives numerous ways to overcome temptation, 1 Cor. 10:12-13 provides some of the most practical steps.
- Pride Is Deceiving – Never assume that you are beyond temptation and disaster.
- Temptation Is Common – You are particularly tempted but not uniquely tempted. Find help and accountability with those who can identify with you.
- God Is Faithful – Even though Satan is tempting and you are considering, God is faithfully willing to help you succeed.
- Temptation Is Limited – With the power of God dwelling inside of you, temptation’s power is never too strong outside of you.
- Escape Is Possible – In every moment of temptation, God has promised to provide a feasible way of escape.
- You Can Endure – Temptation is a life-long battle, so keep your eyes open to the obedient path over a lifetime.
We know that God is not tempted by evil and he himself does not tempt anyone (James 1:13). God has also promised that every time we are tempted he provides a way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13). Since Jesus has suffered through temptation (Heb. 2:18), he is able to come to our aid since he has been tempted just like us yet he never sinned (Heb. 4:15)!
When Jesus prayed, “lead us not into temptation,” he was praying this: God, sound the alarm when temptation is near.
That’s a great prayer for us!
Keep our eyes open. Help us stay alert. Remind us that we often fall into the very sin that we hate (Rom. 7:19). Cause us to acknowledge the sin that so easily ensnares us (Heb. 12:1). Awaken us to the reality of an enemy who prowls around like a roaring lion seeking to devour us (1 Pet. 5:8).
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.