Temptation Does Not Come From God (Hebrews 2:18)
"Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted" (Hebrews 2:18)
Part 4 of 6
A good thing to know is that God does not tempt us. This may come as a shock to many people but God does not trick, tempt or give us opportunities to sin. This is contrary to His nature. Jesus underwent this type of temptation and testing so we would not have to. After all, the Bible records that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tested by the devil (Matthew 4:1; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-2). In this testing Jesus proved his faithfulness both to God, mankind and the truth. Since this was a victory, we will never be tempted by God. James makes this very clear, "When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone" (James 1:13). Just as Jesus' temptation had no power and pull with Him, God cannot be tempted by evil and in the same manner would never tempt us with evil.
With this in mind it is important for us to understand where temptations come from. First, like with Jesus, it can come from the devil. But more likely it comes from our own desires that battle inside us. James went on to say immediately after declaring that God would never tempt us, "each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death" (James 1:14-15). He made it very clear that our own desires, when focused on and allowed to grow inside us, give birth to sin. Temptation starts in the heart before it is evident in our lives. This is why it is so important to focus on the Spirit and the things of God. Then these things will be evident in our lives instead of the desires of the flesh. Paul made this very point in Romans 8. "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace" (Romans 8:5-6). Do you want to experience life and peace? Walk, dwell and live by the Spirit of God.
It is also important to understand that when temptation comes, God provides the way of escape. "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 stand up under it" (I Corinthians 10:13). This is an amazing truth, no matter how we are tempted, it all falls under the normal human experience. This is not to say that God gives his stamp of approval on every temptation that passes before us allowing them to happen. But when they do, God does not allow trials or situations to be beyond human resistance. Nothing will be more than you and I can bear. Plus, God is faithful to His Word and compassionate in nature so He can be trusted to not allow any temptation to exceed our ability to stand against it. If that were not enough, He will always provide a way of escape for us so that we can be removed from temptation, even in the midst of it.
God has given us sure-fire ways of escaping the things that can tempt us. First, if we are being tempted by Satan, James tells us in chapter 4, "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). The truth is that Satan only has power over you if you give it to him. He is a defeated foe (Colossian 2:15). He is afraid of you because, as a believer, you are a co-heir with Christ and seated with Him in the heavenly realm holding a true position of authority (Romans 8:17; Ephesians 2:6). He has to flee. So in the midst of temptation, if we stop and recognize what is happening, then we will have victory. James gives us the key, submit yourselves to God and resist. What a wonderful combination and sure fire way of overcoming this type of temptation.
Secondly, if our temptation comes from our own desires then escaping these is done by the Spirit. "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature" (Galatians 5:16). Living by the Spirit is being consumed with the things of God. Planting His word in your heart, letting His truth and guidance overtake and consume you. We are to live like strangers in this world. When you walk after the Spirit this world and all its allure has no hold over you. It pales in comparison to the goodness and glory of God.
Lastly, a key to overcoming temptation is understanding God loves you, He died for you and He will never leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5-6). This is so important to know and understand with every fiber of your being. So many times in life we try to replace our desire to be loved and accepted with material things, alcohol, drugs or relationships. But this insatiable desire grows from your inherent longing for God. Everyone is born with it and unless you know the only One who can fill this void, you will try to fill it in many other ways. Many of which are destructive because this need is so great. But once you get a revelation of God's love for you then contentment and peace will overtake you. They fill you to overflowing. You will dwell in a state of acceptance, love, forgiveness and grace, and those things will pour out of you as well. The things of this world become insignificant in contrast to God's love. Abundant Life fills the void until it overflows and you will no longer look for things to fill that space. You will experience firsthand the goodness of God.
Tomorrow we look at Part 5: Temptation vs. Testing, What’s the Difference?