Overcoming Temptation (Part 2)
By sis Leong Mei Ji
Understanding how to overcome temptation
It is important that we understand temptation so as to overcome it. It is unimaginable to go to war without knowing something about the enemy. A great deal of training, time, effort and expense is needed to identify the enemy regarding his strength and weaknesses. The same is true in the arena of all sports and games. We will never consider going to a game to meet the opponent in a match without first scouting and looking into their strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, let us understand Satan’s tactics in temptation.
Let’s consider Satan’s strategy. His primary tactic is to arouse desire. Not just any desire, but the desire to do wrong.
The Tempter (Genesis 3: 1-6)
Genesis 3:1 describes the Devil as the Tempter. The Tempter is introduced as “ha nachash”, which is the most common word for snake, the serpent. He is further described as “crafty” and is indeed more crafty than any beast of the field. “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” [2 Corinthians 11:3]. The scriptures make clear the Serpent is that supernatural and evil creature known as Satan, the adversary, the roaring lion “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”[1 Peter 5:8]
Observe how Satan operates in temptation. Satan knows his aim. He will select the ground for temptation very carefully. In Genesis 3: 1-3, Satan waited until Eve was alone and until Eve was in full view of the tree. Satan struck first.
In Genesis Chapter 3:1, Satan raised a question in a gradual and subtle way, creating doubt in Eve about God’s word. He asked Eve, “Yea, hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Eve’s response was weak and it watered down God’s commandment from “thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17) into “lest ye die” (Genesis 3:3), and to “shalt not eat of it”, she added “neither shall ye touch it.” Eve deviated from the word of God. Her weak response prompted Satan to take an opportunity to deny the word of God and said, “Ye shall not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). Satan subtly and successfully removed the barrier of punishment. Satan uses a lot of truth except one word, “NOT” [5% of Satan’s statement is poison]. Truth mixed with lie is not truth- it is dangerous!
Satan then went on to suggest that God’s motives in the prohibition were not pure and suggested to Eve that “God has known all along that if Eve eat of the fruit her eyes will be opened and she will be like god knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5). Satan appealed to Eve’s mind that God does not love and that His commandment is prompted by selfish motives. That God is jealous and He wants to reserve the God-like quality for Himself. Satan deceitfully persuaded Eve that there was much to gain by eating the forbidden fruit. Satan always pretends to be seeking only the best for his victim. Satan successfully removed the barrier to sin, the love of God.
Transgression (Genesis 3:6)
Satan knows Eve’s weaknesses and our weaknesses because he knows that “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3: 23). Eve studied the tree. It appealed to her in three ways: (i) it was good for food, (ii) it was pleasing to the eye and (iii) it made one wise. Satan aroused Eve’s desire that the fruit was good for food. Eve was hooked on to the bait. Finally, Eve surrendered to the temptation. She ate the forbidden fruit and gave the fruit to Adam. Every temptation appears to have one or more of these three appeals, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (1John 2:16). Satan will use reasoning and philosophy to appeal to our mind with ambiguous and obscure language as he had appealed to Eve’s mind in the garden. The temptation of Eve is no different from the temptation which came to our Lord and which comes to any person today. You and I should be wary of Satan’s tactics.