“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. …
” … Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” (Gal 6:1-9)
When Jesus came to His disciples and found them sleep, He said to them, “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”
This statement is very telling with regard to temptations. It tells us up front that a temptation is not something we want to enter into. And, secondly, it tells us that temptations have their strongest avenue through our flesh life. (The flesh life refers to that part of our lives that is not under the influence of the Holy Spirit.)
Solicitations to evil come in many forms, but the source is the same, and the goal is pretty much the same. The word ‘temptation’ (peirasmos) speaks of an enticement to sin. The purpose of a temptation is to break down a believer’s faith, that is, to pull a believer away from the Lord by way of an allurement.
Many believers do not realize what a temptation from Satan is really about. A temptation has to do with the believer’s espousal to Jesus Christ. One description of the new covenant is given in the form of a marriage contract.
Listen to these Scriptures:
“He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full”. (Joh 3:29 – John the Baptist)
“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.” (Mat 22:2 Jesus)
“For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (2Co 11:2-3 Apostle Paul)
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” (Rev 19:7-8 Apostle John)
Marriage in Two Parts – Kiddushin and Nisuim
The ancient Hebrew wedding had two parts, Kiddushin and Nisuim. Kiddushin is where the groom says, ‘I sanctify you to me.’ This is the espousal of marriage. There is no living together in kiddushin, but it is considered sacred and holy. (Kiddushin actually means holiness.)
The second stage, Nisuim, is when the groom comes for his bride. Nisuim means, ‘lifting up’. This is also were the Christian marriage gets its tradition of carrying the bride across the threshold.
The ancient marriage is the background for what Jesus said to the apostles –
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” (Joh 14:1-3)
I hope my readers are getting the picture. The church is in the stage of kiddushin. We are espoused to the Lord Jesus. In the ‘catching away’, Jesus receives us to Himself.
But we are commanded to make ourselves ready. How would we do that. The apostle Paul said,
“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2Co 7:1)
The promises Paul is speaking of has to do with our separation from the world, from the unclean, and from entering into fellowship with unbelievers. In this sense God says that He will make His presence known in our lives.
Think about it. You men and women who are married, would you be pleased if another person was coming on strong to your espoused? How about if they kept coming on with all sorts of allurements? How would you feel about that?
Now let’s talk about …
Satan’s Attempt to Court
In line with what Jesus said to the disciples, a temptation is something we do not want to enter into. The reason is that in a temptation we meet, or experience, or encounter an allurement of Satan. A Satanic allurement can be very powerful.
A temptation from Satan, is his invitation to take part in what he has for us. While it should be understood that a temptation itself is not a sin, it should also be understood that a temptation can be very powerful. This is why Jesus said we must pray so that we won’t enter into a temptation.
In the Greek text, “enter into temptation” is ‘eiserchomai eis peirasmos.’ The ‘eis‘ denotes a movement from one realm of reality into another. When we enter ‘into’ a temptation, we actually pass into another reality. And it all begins with an enticement to the mind.
The reality in this case proves to be Satan’s doing. But once the temptation has completed its work, the person who has fallen into this ‘alternate’ reality, and then returns to their right mind, they then wonder how it could ever have happened. This shows the power of a temptation.
James gives us the process of a temptation. Listen carefully –
“Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted (tested) by God’ (or, ‘God is in this.’); for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone (with evil). But each one is tempted when he is carried away (demonic allurement) and enticed by his own lust (strong desire).
“Then when lust has conceived (the door has been walked through), it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished it brings forth death. (Something always dies. Only God can restore life.) Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren” (James 1:13-16)
Where James says ‘Do not be deceived,’ the word ‘deceived’ is ‘planao.’ It speaks of something that causes a wandering, or a misleading.
The idea behind the word ‘deceive’, in the Hebrew includes the thought of ‘stealing the heart.’ Satan’s goal in temptation is to steal a person’s heart. A person under a deception is unable to recognize the things of God in their truthful perspective. They are under the power of another ‘reality.’ And Satan has a way of working a temptation where the person is convinced that the thing being offered is actually of God.
Let’s make sure we understand that ….
The Allurement is Satan’s Working Power
A temptation can also be defined as the working power of sin. For this reason sin is not simply an act. Before the fall of Adam and Eve, they did not know about the power of sin. After the fall they became well acquainted.
And through the fall the human race became even more acquainted with the working of sin. Sin is enmeshed in the human makeup. Adam and Eve became sinners. That is, they became prone to evil because of their fallen nature.
In considering the temptation of Adam and Eve, it can safely be said that for a believer, a temptation is largely going to be in an area of something ‘forbidden’ by God. And this is why a temptation from Satan is a solicitation to evil.
Remember the temptation of Eve? The serpent said to her, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?'”
Satan draws Eve into an area of reasoning, and by this process she comes under his power. My point is that Satan doesn’t always spring a temptation on us where we instantly fall. Most often he works the pieces together in a way that when the proper moment comes, we step right through the door.
Satan is good at painting a picture or working a puzzle. He does it stroke by stroke, or piece by piece. This is why the apostle warns us about the “schemes of the devil.” (A scheme is a well thought out plan. ‘Methodeia‘ means to use craft.)
With all this information, what should be do? The Bible tells us what to do.
Begin with a personal examination.
There is a Test We Must Pass
The apostle Paul said the place to begin is to examine our own heart and life to make certain that we are true believers in Jesus Christ.
“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless indeed you fail the test?” (2Co 13:5)
What is the test about? It is about worldliness. It is about whether the Spirit of Jesus is truly indwelling us. The apostle John laid it out —
“Do not love the world nor 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 and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (1Jn 2:15-16)
James the brother of Jesus, said it this way –
“You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (Jas 4:4)
The point at hand is simple – How we live our lives is the measure of our relationship with God. If we can live in sin and have no conscience about it, that becomes the measure of our heart.
But I must be careful here – It is not that a true believer cannot have a failure in his or her life. That goes without saying. We are all sinners saved by grace. But the measure comes back to our deepest want to live a life that is pleasing to God.
In this case, when we fall or when we sin, we will be found with a heart of repentance. And in our turning to the Lord, we also find His cleansing love at work.
John explained God’s cleansing love –
“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.
“If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
“If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” (1Jn 1:5-10)
Are you ready? Jesus is coming soon for His bride. Will you be there?
You may wish to take time for this song. Let it minister to your heart –
In Christ always,