Have you ever thought about how our enemy tempts us or what we are tempted with?
We experience two types of temptation within this life. The first form of temptation is that which emerges from within us; that is, these temptations are motivated by our natural (but fallen) desires and cravings of the flesh. The desire for sex, food, rest, pleasure, and friendship all flow from who God made us to be. Our problem is that we attempt to satisfy these desires with methods and means set against the commands and instructions we receive from God. James reiterates this point when he tells us that God does not tempt us, but each of us falls to our own evil desires (James 1:13-14). James argues that though God created us with natural desires, this does not mean that God tempts us to satisfy such desires in a manner that is evil. Such knowledge establishes a vital premise: we experience desires from within ourselves that are corrupted by sin and result in sin when we fulfill these desires in a manner outside of God’s intentions.
The second form of temptation we experience is not from within our being, but from outside our being. Satan and his demons attempt to lure us away from God. The Bible contains several accounts of Satan tempting humanity. Satan tempts Eve in the Garden (Gen. 3), he tempted David to take a census of Israel (1 Chron. 21), he tempted Job to curse God (Job 1), he tempted Jesus in the wilderness (Matt. 4), he tempted Judas to betray Jesus (John 13), he tempted Ananias and Sapphira to lie about their offering (Acts 5), and he tempts the church (Rev. 5). The Scripture is clear, Satan works to lead us astray. But how does he tempt us?
While reading Isaiah 36 & 37 this morning, I noticed at least three ways that Satan tempts us. First, he attempts to entice through a perversion of God’s promises. Second, he works to obscure our view of God. Thirdly, he works to undermine and rationalize away the work of God before us. We observe all three of these tactics in Hezekiah’s story. For the sake of brevity, I will summarize the story.
Through Sennacherib, Hezekiah is tempted to surrender the Promise Land (a land flowing with milk and honey) for a new land promised by Sennacherib—a land of bread and vineyards (Is. 36:17). Next, Sennacherib challenges Hezekiah’s (and Judah’s) view of God by comparing the Lord to the rest of the god’s (idols) that the other defeated nations claimed to worship (vs. 18). In short, Sennacherib attempted to promote doubt and disbelief in YHWH because none of the “other gods” could protect their people from him. Lastly, when God caused Sennacherib to return home to handle other pressing matters, Sennacherib proclaimed to Hezekiah that he should not believe that God caused his cessation from war with Judah (Is. 37:9-13). From Hezekiah’s experience we see that the enemy tempts us: 1) To look for better things apart from God; 2) To view God in a similar manner to the various false gods and broken philosophies; & 3) To doubt the powerful and obvious work of God.
We tend to spend a great amount of energy, time, and resources striving to fight our internal temptations (and we should!), but I feel that many of us live unaware of the tactics and efforts of our enemy. We live ignorant of the fact that Satan works in the world around to ensure that we hear messages about God that are false and lead to our denial of God. We forget that the world offers us false and perverted forms of God’s promises. Our blindness in such areas leads to serial sin and foolishness. We fall into bondage and destruction when we live ignorant of the tactics of Satan. Remember the world is not our home—it is Satan’s domain! The Bible tells us that our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await our Savior (Phil. 3:20). How do we respond to this knowledge?
I love you and hope this encourages you to seek the Lord—for He is the one true God!