Have you ever been tempted to do something wrong? Do you feel in those times like God is testing you? Or maybe you realize your temptation comes because of something you have seen, done, or heard that is contrary to God’s best for your life. Either way, you are facing temptation, and you need help!
Fortunately, God has already given us a promise we can cling to in times when the temptation just seems overwhelming. In 1 Corinthians 10:13 we read, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
In this situation we really don’t need to wonder WWJD (what would Jesus do), because we know exactly what He did when He faced temptation. And His response gives us a good clue to one of the weapons we can use ourselves when temptations come to us.
We find the story in Matthew 4. After His baptism, Jesus is “led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1). As the chapter goes along we find the devil presents three different temptations. The first involves food—physical needs. Jesus had fasted for 40 days and 40 nights, and verse 2 says “He then became hungry.” I can imagine!
The devil urges Him to make bread to eat. Seems like a reasonable response to hunger, doesn’t it? But there’s something else going on here. The devil is asking Jesus to misuse His power to provide for Himself something that His Father has not provided. Jesus would have been going outside His Father’s will for Him at this point. What did Jesus do? He responded: “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (verse 4).
Obeying His Father was more important to Him than appeasing His own hunger. He had no doubt at all that when the time was right, His Father would provide for Him!
Next the devil dares Jesus to jump off the top of the temple—an act that would surely be fatal. But the devil goes even further and (mis)quotes scripture to Jesus essentially saying to Him, “If you truly think your Father will save you, you should do this to prove it to me.”
Once again Jesus responds with scripture: “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test” (verse 7). Remember that Jesus came to the earth to be the ultimate sacrifice that would atone for the sin of the world. Dying by jumping off the temple, or jumping off the temple only to be miraculously and spectacularly “saved” by angels, would not have fulfilled God’s purpose.
The devil’s final attempt to derail Jesus from His purpose in coming to the earth was to offer to give Him all the kingdoms of the world—with a caveat: “All this I will give you,… if you will bow down and worship me” (verse 9).
What the devil was offering Him was “a shortcut that bypasses the suffering: give up the will of the Father in heaven and worship the devil on earth.” (NIV Grace and Truth Study Bible, © 2021 by Zondervan, all rights reserved.) Instead of setting up God’s kingdom on earth by reestablishing the relationship between God and His people, the devil wants people to worship him. “This is the essence of sin because it supplants God, the only one worthy of worship.” (Ibid.)
Let’s go back to 1 Corinthians 10:13. God promises to “provide a way out so that you can endure it.” As we see in the above temptations, Jesus countered each one with scripture. We have that same option, and it is one of the primary weapons we can use against temptation. Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
The Bible contains many promises of ways that God will guide us, protect us, empower us to face different situations. Do you regularly memorize verses that speak to temptations you face? If not, begin today. If you have access to a concordance, you can use that to search for verses that contain a key word related to your particular need. Another good way to find verses that speak to your situation is to Google “what does the Bible say about…”.
Just as one example: here are some verses about worry or anxiety.
“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31)
“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out it’s roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8)
“Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).
Scripture, prayer, the support of friends and/or your church family are weapons you can use when you face temptation. Oftentimes, having an arsenal of Scripture promises that you have memorized and can recall at a moment’s notice can be your best defense against the devil:
Psalm 119:9 – “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word” (Psalm 119:9). With God’s Word firmly implanted in your heart, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
(See also the spiritual armor described in Ephesians 6:10-18).