Overcoming Temptation - Part 2 - The Nature of the Enemy
Part 1 of this article on overcoming temptation focuses mainly on God’s provisions for us for salvation, and overcoming evil. Namely, His Word in the Bible (Rom. 1:16,17), and His church (Rom. 12). Part 2 of this article will focus mainly not on understanding the nature of our enemy, (you will see that trying to understand him is foolishness), but simply knowing the nature of our enemy. One doesn’t need to understand him. One only needs to know his intentions.
First of all, to fight against Satan and overcome, one must be convinced he is real. He existed in the garden of Eden where he first of all used Eve, and then Adam to bring sin into the world to separate us from God, and he exists today. He exists today with one purpose, and one purpose only, and that is to war against the Creator of all that exists. He has known since the resurrection of Christ that he is fighting a losing battle, so he wants to take you down with him in his defiance against the God he hates. In other words, he not only hates your Creator, but he also hates you.
Once a person is convinced that Satan is real, which is necessary to fight against his temptation, this person should know that Satan is a liar. In John 8:44 Jesus said that Satan “was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the Truth, because there is no Truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” Satan knows how to twist God’s Word and then make an appeal to your lust. 1 John 2:15,16 show the “three avenues” of temptation Satan uses against people. And just as was pointed out in part 1 of this article, materialism is his most powerful weapon. John wrote, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life - is not of the Father, but is of the world.” In Gen. 3:1-6, he used all three types of lust against Eve. First, he twisted God’s Word after tempting her to doubt His Word in verse 1 - “Has God INDEED said….” Once he got her to doubt God’s Word, he went on to say that what God said wasn’t true. Verses 4, 5 he said, “You will not surely die.” God knows when you eat it, you will be like Him. That was where he got her. What does verse 6 say? “When the woman SAW that the tree was good for food” (lust of the flesh)... “pleasant to the eyes” (lust of the eyes)... “desirable to make one wise” (pride of life)....” When people have that “pride of life”, and Satan is able to use it against them, they actually come to believe they can run their own lives without God’s guidance. Many times, without even being aware of it. They forget the truth that they really need God, and become easy prey for Satan.
The only way to fight a liar is with the Truth. Jesus overcame Satan’s temptation in Matt. 4 with the Truth in God’s Word. In Matt. 4:3,4 Jesus was hungry. Satan tempted Him with the “lust of the flesh”. He said, “IF you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” Notice how he once again tried to cause even the Son of God to doubt the Word of God with the word “if”. Jesus, however, turned it around and used the Word against Satan by quoting Deut. 8:3. Matt. 4:5,6, Satan tempted Him with the “pride of life”. Once again, Satan said, “If you are the Son of God….” He said Jesus should throw Himself from the top of the temple and let the angels save Him. Jesus quoted Deut. 6:16. In verses 8 - 11 Satan tempted Him with both the “lust of the eyes”, and the “pride of life”. Jesus told him to go away, and used Deut. 6:13 as His defense, and “the devil left Him”.
1 Peter 3:15 says, “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” Study Eph. 6:10-18, and know the Word of God. Know and understand what is good, and take up the “sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God”, along with the “shield of faith”, and you will be armed with the Truth to “overcome temptation”, and to “overcome evil with good”.
Timothy A. Sundlie - Preacher / Evangelist for the La Crosse church of Christ