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Beware the Invisible Power

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Beware the Invisible Power

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As we prepare to observe God’s Passover and His Holy Days of Unleavened Bread, we should be especially wary of an invisible power that seeks to bend our will and destroy our character. Its pull can be so intense and tempting that, if we are not extremely careful, we could find it nearly impossible to resist. Every person who has ever lived, including our Savior, Jesus Christ, has felt this enemy’s enormous might. 

What is this force? It’s the power of temptation!

The Bible cautions us to “Awake to righteousness, and do not sin” (1 Corinthians 15:34). In our battle to overcome sin we need to know what the scriptures say about temptation. We should understand how temptation works and most importantly, how to effectively resist this subtle and dangerous influence. 

On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus Christ vigorously warned His disciples to, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Jesus fully comprehended the subtleties and powers of temptation and the vulnerability of human beings.

What is temptation? It is an appeal to the fleshly mind to think or act contrary to God’s laws. It is a force of enticement which pulls us in the opposite direction of godly righteousness. While temptation is not sin, it is often its precursor.

How does temptation work? The attraction of a magnet to a piece of steel provides a prime example. When the two items are brought very close they practically jump together. Invisible yet powerful lines of force reach out from the magnet to attract the steel. In fact, the pull of the magnet on the metal increases significantly as the two objects are brought nearer to each other. 

The parallel between the pull of magnetism and the pull of temptation is unmistakable. The closer we allow ourselves to get to sinful conduct, the stronger is temptation’s attraction. On the other hand, the farther away we get from sinful behavior, the weaker is the appeal of temptation. We can use this analogy to our advantage in our combat against sin.

Buying into Satan’s lies

The classic case of temptation is found in the initial book of the Bible. Eve, the first woman, was approached by a cunning serpent—Satan the devil—who sparked her interest with the false notion that she would not die if she ate the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:1-6). Sadly, Eve “bought into” the devil’s deceptive line. Satan succeeded in tempting her with a wrong desire which led to sin. What the devil did to Eve, he is doing to all human beings!

Satan is described in Scripture as the “father of lies” (John 8:44). By engendering and promoting a squalid environment of deceit, lust, envy and jealousy, he has led countless individuals into the wretched grip of sin and death. As the “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), this disreputable spirit being is the underlying cause of all the pulls and inducements that influence human beings to disobey God.

Even though Satan performs his ignominious work, every person is accountable for the temptations to which he or she succumbs. The apostle James wrote, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:14-15, emphasis added throughout). 

While people are not all tempted by the same things, each individual should stay far away from those which may tantalize them into sin. For example, this principle is expressed in a warning to young men about spurning the enticement of immoral women. “Stay away from her! Don’t go near the door of her house” (Proverbs 5:8, New Living Translation). Furthermore, Proverbs 7:6-25 describes a young man who didn’t resist such temptation and suffered profoundly as a result. 

While maintaining physical distance from possible sinful conduct is important, it’s not the only factor to consider. It’s vital to realize that sin is often rooted in the way we think. Wrong physical actions are often the consequence of what has already been taking place in one’s mind. For instance, Jesus said, “Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). A man can certainly look at a woman, but going beyond that—to lust after her in his mind—is sinful.

How to replace wrong thinking

Therefore, what should we do to resist temptation? To put wrong thinking out of our minds, we need to put in God’s way of righteous thinking. His perfect thoughts, made plain in the Bible (see Isaiah 55:8-9), can aid us immeasurably in steering clear of sinful temptations. As a result, we won’t be deceived into believing that sin is pleasurable, but is in fact evil and therefore antithetical to what God would have us do. 

Of course, we need to realize this is not an easy task. The apostle Paul discussed his own personal battle with temptation. “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me” (Romans 7:18-20).

The Scriptures tell us about others who fell victim to temptation. For example, Samson failed to resist Delilah’s enticement (Judges 16:4-21), and King David became so obsessed with his illicit desire for Bathsheba that he committed both adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11:1-27). Conversely, the patriarch Joseph fully resisted the temptation posed by Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:1-12). How was he able to accomplish this when others have failed in similar instances? It involved the very principal Jesus spoke about in Matthew 26:41 to “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation.”

Joseph understood how vulnerable he was to temptation and as a result, stayed close to God in fervent prayer. This is a critical key in fighting temptation. Forgetting just how weak we really are is a serious mistake because it can lead us to lower our spiritual defenses and get dangerously close to situations that could harm or even destroy us. 

Indeed, if we begin to think we have somehow become immune to temptation, we are playing a dangerous game (Proverbs 20:9; 1 John 1:8). Rather, we need to closely follow the example of Jesus who knew exactly how to stand up against sin. Paul stated, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). 

How Jesus withstood temptation

Jesus effectively withstood all of Satan’s enticements as well as the pulls and tugs of society and His own flesh. In doing so He never forgot that His own human strength was utterly insufficient in the spiritual warfare He waged. He placed all reliance on His heavenly Father and plainly stated, “I can, of myself, do nothing” (John 5:30). 

Since Jesus said this, it would be supremely unwise for you and me to think we have the strength to fight our spiritual battles alone. There is no way we can confront Satan’s deviousness without God’s help. We need to follow Christ’s model when we face spiritual combat. What did He do? He prayed continually to His Heavenly Father and employed the power of His Holy Spirit, to prevail over every temptation (1 Thessalonians 5:17; 2 Timothy 1:6). He will fully aid us in doing the same. Paul said, “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18, New International Version).

Christ can help us prevail over every temptation and expel every wrong thought before it leads to sin.

In doing so, it helps us build holy, righteous character and gives us confidence in order to successfully deal with and overcome future temptations. 

Finally, as we prepare to observe the Passover and Holy Days of Unleavened Bread, let’s diligently examine ourselves to determine where we stand spiritually. It’s imperative that we strive to put out sin and faithfully keep God’s commandments. An intricate part of doing this is to strongly resist the pull of temptation. It’s great to know that we can fight successfully against its magnetic pulls. With God’s mighty help we will conquer the invisible power of temptation!