“Behold, I give to you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the authority of the enemy. And nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:19 MKJV).
We believers and servants of God aren’t called to fight the tempter. The moment you take up the challenge against the enemy, you’ve lost. He has you on his ground and on his terms. You’re dead.
Liken it to giving a professional salesman a toe in the door. You may not want to buy his product, but he offers you a freebie for just listening to his presentation with “no obligation.” All he wants you to do is consider.
You think, “I can entertain him, take the prize, and not buy.” But then he comes in, flatters you, skillfully demonstrates his product, and offers you bonus gifts along with a time limit. Now the pressure’s on, a pressure you didn’t expect, with benefits offered you hadn’t counted on.
So with temptation. Let’s discuss sexual attraction, for example. The enemy gives you a tiny peek, say in a commercial, and the odds are that if you go for that little peek, you’re done for. You are not to engage the enemy; you are to resist, that is, to stand against or oppose, but not to do battle with him. Yes, the apostle Paul instructs the saints to put on the whole armor of God, both defensive and offensive (Ephesians 6:12-13); but what does that look like? How do you do that? Not as with flesh and blood. Here’s partially how:
I have opportunities every day to take a glimpse at scantily clad, sexy women on the internet, whether in commercials or wherever. I can think, “This isn’t porn. I’ll just take a little peek. It won’t hurt, and nobody will be the wiser.” But I’ve learned that all it takes is one little step closer to the cliff, and my curiosity begins to move me to eventually take another and another step to see what is over that edge, or even how close I can get without falling. Perhaps I’ll see some beautiful scenery? The ground is firm enough, and I’ve still got lots of leeway, no problem. I take another step and find I’m still “safe” – I haven’t gone over.
But haven’t I? The enemy already had me after that first little step. The powers of curiosity, suggestion, and false security are great, and what is greater is that I’ve already taken the direction of the will of the tempter. I’m done for with that kind of thinking and attitude. I’ve stepped over the line from not interested to desire. It may not be obvious in that instance, but the seed is sown, with my “success” at apparently not having succumbed, for an altogether tragic event – a full-fledged fall to temptation at an appointed time to come.
The stage has now been set for an inopportune time, with weakness activated. I now have the mistaken notion I was able to hold myself, and have more confidence I can do it again. The next time, I test my strength and resolve just a little further, not realizing I was snared and defeated yesterday at the first step.
“Nip it in the bud,” I’ve said. The moment the tiniest thought begins, the moment a somewhat seemingly innocent YouTube or commercial grabs your attention, get out of there, immediately. Take a deliberate peek, and count yourself certainly dead; it’s just a matter of time for that defeat to be manifest.
It’s interesting that in martial arts, trainees are instructed not only how to fight, but how to avoid fights; they are counseled not to engage, if at all possible. They only fight when there’s no other choice.
Resist the enemy (not fight), and he’ll flee from you (James 4:7). God is faithful and won’t suffer you to be tempted beyond what you’re able to bear; seeing your faithfulness, He’ll reward you with escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). From there, He’ll give you more integrity and strength to resist. You’ll gradually grow godliness and virtue. Endure to the end, and you’ll develop the nature of God in Christ Jesus that cannot be tempted at all (Revelation 3:12). It’s true; His Word is True.
The Scriptures declare that God doesn’t tempt and can’t be tempted (James 1:13). We know Jesus was God in the flesh while on earth (1 Timothy 3:16). The Scriptures also declare He was tempted (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15). So if God can’t be tempted, and Jesus was God manifest in the flesh, how can it be said He was tempted? The meaning of the words saying He can’t be tempted is simple enough – God can’t be successfully tempted; He can’t fall to temptation. Satan comes and finds nothing in Him (John 14:30). Temptation has no power to make Him yield to it.
Resist the Devil (refuse the offer or introduction of the temptation), and he’ll flee from you (James 4:7). The power is within; it must be exercised in the choice. As you grow by making one right choice after another, you’ll increase in the might of a Godly nature until your victory is complete in Him. He that endures to the end, the same shall be saved (Matthew 10:22).
DO NOT engage the enemy in battle when he comes presenting the slightest offer of temptation. “Get out of here, Satan,” is to be your immediate and firm response – no free gifts (you’ve heard the true saying, “There’s nothing free in this world”); no momentary, “innocent,” “it can’t hurt” attention; no entertaining the slightest hint of the forbidden. Nip it in the bud, in the thought, in the mind. Be vigilant always (1 Peter 5:8), and you’ll eventually come through to victory as an overcomer (Revelation 2 and 3), never to give temptation the slightest thought, as you rejoice in the power and goodness and freedom of the Almighty God, your Savior, in Whose image you have been formed.
– June 4, 2012