“6. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7. If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Gen 4:6-7
“1. When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were building a temple for the Lord, the God of Israel, 2. they came to Zerubbabel and to the heads of the families and said, “Let us help you build because, like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.” Ezra 4:1-2 (NIV)
“29. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.” Acts 4:29 (NIV)
What is it about temptation that is so enticing? Are unmet human needs really at the core of all temptation? Perhaps it isn’t just unmet human needs that must be considered; rather the condition of our support foundation prior to facing trails might help us understand how to survive temptation during challenging times. Perhaps taking on a proactive approach to preparing for when, not if, temptation occurs is the key to surviving Satan’s attack… to unlearn, then relearn what to do when we are in the presence of temptation is key.
Matthew 4 opens with a powerful discourse between Christ and Satan. In the passage, an interesting observation was made concerning Christ’s temptation… it is immediately after Christ is declared Savior of the world that He is tempted with great privileges and promises of Devine favor. What was clear was the closer and stronger the relationship with God the Father, Satan will do whatever he can to interrupt that connection, usually by exploiting our weaknesses… not even Christ was spared such an attack! Left to rely on our own strength, we are tempting Satin to tempt us, thereby provoking God to leave us to ourselves to handle the battle on our own… a battle we will likely lose as Satan is relentless on his attack of God’s children. Satan’s aim in all his temptations was for Christ to sin against His Father. He tempted Him to despair of his Father’s goodness, and to distrust His Father’s care concerning Him. It is one of the wiles of Satan to take advantage of our outward condition. Therefore, we must be on guard boldly and courageously by strengthening ourselves spiritually in any way possible lest we fall quickly into sin.
While driving on a highway this summer prior to leaving for Rwanda to serve on a mission trip, I needed to pull over as I began to experience a feeling of panic come over me; a feeling I had never felt before. I became overwhelmed with fears on many levels… who would care for my daughters if something happened to me in Rwanda? Who would care for my Mom after losing my Dad earlier this year? How could I leave knowing I didn’t have enough personal time left from work since I had used most of my personal time caring for my Dad in his final days? At that moment, Satan knew exactly where to attack me, and he did so with a vengeance! A voice inside spoke to reach out to one of the men in my men’s group that I had chosen to surround myself with years before. We prayed hard together; for direction, strength, and peace, and slowly, the panic subsided and I was able to drive again. It wasn’t until I was in the midst of my work in Rwanda did it become clear as to why the intensity of Satan’s attack on that highway weeks earlier. I was serving God in Rwanda… I was being obedient to my Lord and Savior to build His Kingdom here on Earth, and Satan did all he could do to stop that process from happening.
Satan is well versed in Scripture and he often twists words to serve his purpose. Christ answered all the temptations of Satan with “It is written;” To set an example for us to follow, He appealed to what was written in the Scriptures. It is clear that we must commit to unlearning our self-reliant ways, and relearn the ways of Christ any time we are tempted to sin. By doing the work of intentionally engaging in the Word on a regular basis with our minds and hearts, and surrounding ourselves with Godly men and women, only then can we expect any chance to survive the wrath of Satan when temptation occurs. This approach will help us to act more quickly and firmly at resisting temptation and therefore build a closer relationship with Christ and for Christ.