What is Temptation?

July 17, 2017

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 1 Peter 5:8–9

Satan’s most notorious activity is that of tempting mankind. Temptation is the solicitation to do evil and is the common experience of all people, whether they are Christians or not. Yet, Satan puts forth extra effort in tempting Christians. He knows that if he can bring down a Christian, he can, to some degree, discredit the church and bring reproach upon the name of the Lord. As David’s sin with Bathsheba gave “great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme” (2 Samuel 12:14), so it is with sinning Christians. This is one of Satan’s motives for tempting believers.

Satan’s Hatred

Another reason Satan will tempt you is simply because he hates you and wants to destroy you. He knows that “sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:15).

When Peter referred to Satan as “a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour,” he was no doubt thinking of Satan’s activity in tempting man.

The Master Psychologist

Author John Phillips gives us a very graphic picture of what that looks like:

[Satan] has been studying human nature ever since man was created. Satan helped forge fallen human nature. He is a master psychologist. One person he assails with lusts of the flesh. He has a whole arsenal of darts that can set the senses aflame. Another person he assails with lusts of the eye; someone else with the pride of life. The lust of appetite, the love of applause, and the lure of ambition are among the host of darts Satan uses to kindle fierce fires in our souls.

He knows our weaknesses and strengths. He sends his legions of evil spirits to titillate our senses, inflame our desires, corrupt our souls, weaken our wills, deceive our minds, deaden our consciences, and distort God’s truth. Satan has a thousand wiles and he never gives up.1

Be Sober and Vigilant

With death and destruction as the aim of the tempter, we cannot afford to take temptation lightly. On the contrary, we must be sober and vigilant in dealing with our adversary, the devil.

1 Phillips, John. Exploring Ephesians & Philippians (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993), p. 196–197.