Temptation hides. It cloaks itself in our veins when our blood pumps with anger, and rests under our tongues, ready to jump out at the chance to tell that person what we really think. It disguises itself as a good time, as a way to relax, as a harmless triviality. It presents itself as an opportunity to get ahead and achieve more, and compromises for the “greater good.”
How can we protect ourselves against such subtlety? In his message, “Lessons Learned in the Temptation of Jesus,” Dr. Stanley explains that the plan of defense against temptation is reliance upon the Word of God. He notes that when the devil came with tempting suggestions, Jesus didn’t argue or engage him in conversation but immediately responded with passages from the Scriptures. He says that:
First Satan tempted Jesus to use His divine, supernatural power to satisfy His hunger saying, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread” (Matt. 4:3). Christ immediately answered, “It is written, man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil suggested that Jesus jump off the pinnacle of the temple and miraculously land on His feet in order to attract a crowd (vv. 5-6). This time he even used Scripture verses to support his proposal. Again Jesus quoted the Word of God as His defense, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test’ (v. 7).
Finally, Satan took Jesus to a very high mountain to show Him all the kingdoms of the world. He offered to hand them all over to Christ if He would bow down and worship him (vv. 8-9). Basically, the devil was offering Jesus a shortcut to the kingdom so as to avoid the cross. But Christ said, “Go Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve him only’” (v. 10).
When we fill our minds with the Word of God, temptation can no longer imbed itself in our hearts. In fact, Scripture is so effective at creating a protective barrier that tempting thoughts hit the wall and simply slide off. They don’t get considered. They’re immediately destroyed.
The key is knowing God’s Word so well that it’s second nature—or better, our first instinct. If you’re struggling with an issue, don’t become discouraged with past failures. Cover your heart and mind in Scripture daily, because the more you know, the better off you’ll be.
Dr. Stanley teaches more about how we ought to handle temptation in his message, “Lessons Learned in the Temptation of Jesus.”