How Can I Conquer Temptation?
You’ve heard the old joke, “I can handle anything but temptation.” But there’s nothing funny about finding yourself battling temptation—and losing.
You can deal with temptation 3 different ways—and I recommend only 1 of them.
1. Give in. (You may have already done this.)
2. Fight it in your own strength. (You are continually trying this one.(
3. Use the method Jesus Himself used to defeat the enemy in perhaps the most
famous temptation on record.
We’ve had experiences that humbled us.
God doesn’t want us to dwell on our failures when we gave in to temptation, other than to understand why we failed. What did we need to do? What could we have done to prevent it? What steps can we take to be victorious next time? This is the purpose for today’s study.
In Luke chapter 4 and Matthew chapter 4, both these Gospel writers give the account of Jesus’ encounter with Satan himself in the wilderness.
1. Turn to Matthew 4, and keeping a finger there, turn also to Luke 4. Matthew relates the entire event in (how many?) _____ verses, and Luke in _____ verses.
This tells me that our encounters with Satan don’t need to be long. In fact, the shorter, the better. We need to dispatch him immediately. Never get into a conversation with the devil. Or a battle of wits. If you veer from anything other than Scripture, he will outmaneuver you every time, and he will win.
Read one or both of these accounts (Matt. 4 or Luke 4) before we go further.
2. If you look just before the start of chapter 4 in both of these Gospels, what event had just taken place in the life of our Lord? __________________________________
3. What had God the Father spoken audibly about His Son, Jesus? (Luke 3:22 and Matthew 3:17)
We would agree that this moment of His baptism and being affirmed by the Father was a high point in the earthly life of our Lord. So it’s a little jarring to find that immediately after that, He is directed to go off into the wilderness for _____ days. Who directed Him to go there? (Matt. 4:1 and Luke 4:1)
God never does anything without a purpose. This takes place at the beginning of Jesus’ public life and ministry. Why would the Father allow Satan to tempt the Lord Jesus? There may be several reasons, but one of them is—
We have a malevolent enemy who wants to harm us.
Jesus’ battle with Satan provides the example we must follow when Satan comes to tempt and torment us.
4. Turn to that familiar passage, John 10:10. If you haven’t already memorized this short verse, you should. It’s one to keep in the forefront of your mind. First it describes the mission of the devil; then it comforts us with the assurance of Jesus’ plan for our lives. Write out the verse here:
Satan cannot directly or successfully attack God, so his next best tactic to get at the Father is to get at someone the Father loves: Jesus alone in the wilderness, and today, Satan is coming for you. You are God’s highest creation, made in His image. You are so valuable to God, Jesus died for you. Satan wants to set you up for a fall if he can. Our responsibility is to give him as few open doors and as little access as possible.
In the wilderness temptation, we find both Jesus’ example for defeating temptation and the power to do so.
We have an Example who will help us.
God gave us the Lord Jesus, the Example, and we are to walk as He walked.
5. Turn to 1 Peter 2:21. Fill in some key words.
For even hereunto were ye ___________: because Christ also suffered ____ us, leaving us an ________________, that ye should _______________ ________
6. 1 Peter 2:21 states 3 reasons why the Lord Jesus suffered.
a. It was _______ us.
b. He was giving us an ________________.
c. He was leaving _________s for us to follow.
In the Wilderness Temptation, Jesus had a head‑on collision with the devil, and He came out victorious. So can you.
“But, but—I’m not Jesus. He was the Son of God!”
It’s important for you to understand this: Jesus did not defeat Satan as God, in all His awesome power, but as a man, yielded to the Holy Spirit. There is nothing Jesus did in resisting temptation in this wilderness experience that you cannot do—when you are operating in His strength and following His example. Not your own strength.
We're going to find out what Jesus did when He was tempted. I pray we will learn some lessons in this study that will enable us, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to live a victorious life—and stop being a sitting duck for Satan.
THE POSSIBLITY OF TEMPTATION
First, let’s understand that temptation can lure any person, at any place, at any time.
Don't think that when you get saved you suddenly become immune to temptation. If the devil had the unmitigated gall, the audacity to tempt the very Son of God, don't you think he would tempt you?
If you think you’re not going to be tempted, you are tempting the devil to tempt you! The proud Christian tempts the devil to tempt him.
7. Turn to Proverbs 16:18. You have heard this verse before many times, even outside a biblical context. It is universally true.
Pride goeth before _______________________, and a haughty spirit before a _______.
8. Turn to 1 Corinthians 10:12-13, one of the primary passages in Scripture to help us more fully understand temptation.
Wherefore, let him that thinketh he ______________, take heed, lest he _____. There hath ____ temptation taken you but such as is _______________ to man. But God is ______________, who will not suffer [allow] you to be tempted ________ that you are _________, but will with the temptation make a way of ______________ that you _____ be able to _______ it.
a. The sitting duck in v. 12 is the person who ________________________________
Are you guilty of the “it will never happen to me” syndrome?
Charles Haddon Spurgeon rightly noted, “We are never, never so much in danger of being proud as when we think we are humble.”
Pride says, "I've never committed adultery. It will never happen to me." Humility says, "By the grace of God, I haven't, but I can."
b. Paul here describes our temptations not as “special,” but “_________________” (v. 13) to everyone.
c. Who controls the switch, either allowing or preventing the temptation?
d. What does He provide?
e. You may be thinking, “Well, He didn’t provide it for ME, because I fell to such-and-such temptation.” This passage is a promise from God. If you fell in the face of temptation, what was really at work, then?
9. And don't think there must be something inherently wrong with you if you are tempted. Turn to Hebrews 4:15:
For we have not an high priest [Jesus] which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points _______________ like as ___ are, yet without ______.
To be tempted is not a sin. If it were, Jesus would have been a sinner. There is something inherently right with you if you’re tempted. It means you’re not in collusion with the devil but in collision with the devil.
Some of the strongest temptations will arise after some of your highest spiritual experiences. We’ve already seen that Jesus faced Satan in the wilderness immediately after the highest point of His early ministry. The Spirit like a dove descended upon the Lord Jesus Christ. And now, after the dove, the devil. Satan comes to counter‑attack. It can come at any time. When you have the approval of heaven, you're going to have the assault of hell.
Sometimes when you’ve been in a season of “spiritual high,” wonderfully, gloriously blessed, you begin to coast. Remember the Spurgeon quote above.
We have many examples in Scripture.
10. Turn to 1 Kings 18. Here Elijah the prophet confronts wicked king Ahab and 450 prophets of Baal. God shows up in a miraculous way, and the false prophets are disgraced. Elijah is vindicated. We might say, he was on a spiritual “high.”
a. What had Elijah been able to accomplish?(V. 30-38)
b. Go one chapter further, to ch. 19. By v. 2, Jezebel has gotten wind of what happened, and Elijah takes off running (v. 3). By v. 4, where is Elijah now?
(here we are again). What does he say to the Lord?
We won’t turn there, but Moses and Jonah also demonstrate this truth. Moses has a great victory against the Egyptians and by the power of God parts the Red Sea. Before long, he’s out in the wilderness asking God to take his life! Jonah has a revival where the entire pagan city of Nineveh repents, and the next day, he’s pouting under a shriveled gourd vine. This is a pattern: after tremendous blessing, Satan takes note and comes calling.
This should not make us afraid. Instead, what should we do?
11. Turn to 1 John 2:16. PREPARE by knowing that all temptations fall into one of these three categories:
“For all that is in the world,
1. the lust of the __________, and
2. the lust of the ________, and
3. the _________ of ________,
is not of the Father, but is of the world.”
All temptation is one of these, and the devil threw all three at Jesus, the same three he will challenge you with the rest of your life.
PASSIONS—The LUST of the FLESH
Those sins we do with our bodies involve our passions, appetites, and actions in any area: food, sex, liquor, rest, laziness, violence. Our flesh isn’t evil, but it can be made an operation of evil.
12. Turn back to Luke 4, verse 3:
And the devil said unto Him, _____ thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be _________ ___________.
Upon close examination, there are actually two temptations here.
Temptation Part One:
13. a. Examine the first 6 words the devil said. What is he challenging Jesus about?
The first aspect of this temptation was to provoke Jesus to do something to prove He was the Son of God, when God had just said, “This is My beloved Son…” Satan always comes to cast doubt.
b. Keep Luke 4 open, but turn for a moment to Genesis 3:1, Satan’s first interaction with the high point of God’s creation—man. The hiss of the serpent is heard in the Garden. Read what he says to Eve. What is Satan casting doubt upon?
Satan (successfully) gets Eve to doubt what God has just said about the Tree in the Garden. When he approaches Jesus, he again attempts (unsuccessfully) to get Jesus to doubt what God had just said, “Thou art My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Satan was attacking (1) the Word of God and (2) Jesus as Deity. Satan’s tactics have never changed.
Temptation Part Two:
When Satan said, “Turn stones into bread,” this was the lust of the flesh. Jesus had been without food for 40 days, and the Bible says He was hungry.
14. I want you to turn to Psalm 50. Through the pen of the psalmist, God Himself is speaking. Look at v. 12:
“If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the ___________ is ________, and the fullness thereof.”
There is great irony in Satan tempting our Lord to satisfy His hunger and put His fleshly desire above the will of God. There is nothing wrong with eating bread, but Jesus had been led of the Spirit into the wilderness to fast; He was there by divine appointment.
Keep a bookmark in Psalm 50.
POSSESSIONS—The LUST of the EYES
15. Back in Luke 4, see verses 5-7:
5 And the devil, taking Him up into a high mountain, showed unto Him all the __________________ of the _____________ in a moment of time.
6 And the devil said unto Him, “All this power will I give Thee, and the _______ of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will, I give it.
7 If Thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be Thine.”
a. Have you heard the expression, “Feast your eyes upon that”? The devil lays out a feast of the eyes for the Lord Jesus and offers all this to Him. Again, this is rich with irony, because what has God said in Psalm 50:10?
God already owns it all. Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, owns it all! What could Satan possibly offer to Jesus that He did not already, by divine right, possess? Surely his plot was to attempt to get Jesus to doubt the clear word of the Father, and if He did, Redemption’s plan would fall apart. And remember, Jesus is facing down Satan not as God, but as Man.
Your eyes have an appetite just like your body. Satan may tempt you with possessions. There is nothing wrong with buying a house, saving for retirement, or taking a vacation unless—they are what consumes you.
b. What are your personal goals and greatest energies directed toward? Is the Holy Spirit bringing anything to your mind right now that may be in competition with God for first place in your life, something that might fall under “the lust of the eyes”?
Something that’s good in second place, when you put it in first place, becomes an instrument of harm in your life.
Is there any material possession you would not gladly part with for the glory of Jesus Christ? Judas sold out for thirty pieces of silver, Esau for a mess of pottage. Satan offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world.
PERSON-The PRIDE of LIFE
The pride of life is a temptation to want authority, attention, power and respect; of “being someone.” Satan makes an assault upon your being, on who you are, your personhood.
16. We’ve already seen how in the first part of the Wilderness Temptation (Luke 4:3) Satan tried to cast doubt on who Jesus was. Where else in Luke 4:1-13 do you see Satan try this again? v. _____.
The “pride of life” deals with our person—with who we are and who people think we are, and our pride is at the root.
Satan tempted Jesus in all three: “Turn these stones into bread”—His physical hunger. “You can have all these kingdoms”—the desire for possessions. “Jump from the temple and prove you’re the Son of God”—the pride of life, challenging Jesus’ being as the Son of God.
We face these temptations every day. Now, how will we conquer them?
Here is how Jesus overcame the devil: by His Sonship, by submission, by spiritual endowment, and by Scripture. Each one of these is available to every child of God.
The Principles of Triumph
You must be a child of God. That's the starting place. Jesus became the Son of man that we might become sons and daughters of God. Jesus was born of a virgin that we might be born again. You may as well throw snowballs at the Rock of Gibraltar as to try to overcome Satan without being born again.
At His baptism, the Father said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Turn to John 8:29. Jesus is speaking.
“I do always those things that please Him.
17. Why was the Father well pleased?
Is the consuming desire of your heart to do the will of God? Jesus was submitted to the will of the Father. Are you? Or are you just hoping to escape temptation and do your will? Victory is not for rebels, and unless you have bowed the knee to the lordship of Jesus and made God sovereign in your life, there is no real hope for you to overcome Satan.
By Spiritual Endowment
18. What was Jesus’ spiritual endowment?
Look at 3 verses in Luke 4:
v. 1 “And Jesus, being full of the _________ __________”
v. 14 “And Jesus returned in the power of the ___________”
v. 18 “The __________ of the Lord is upon Me, for He hath anointed me.”
That's the reason the Bible commands us to be continually being filled with the Spirit of God. He was filled with the Spirit, and we must be filled with the Spirit.
“Ye are God's little children and have overcome them because greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” 1 John 4:4
Again, we must understand that Jesus did not overcome Satan as God, though He was God and is God. Jesus overcame Satan as a man filled with the Spirit.
A CLOSER LOOK AT THIS TRUTH
Jesus MUST defeat Satan in His humanity to be our example for how we will defeat Satan. If He hadn't overcome Satan as man, He could be no example for us. But Jesus overcame Satan not with the inherent power He had as Almighty God, but as a man filled with the Holy Spirit would overcome him.
Did you know that Jesus' favorite term for Himself wasn’t “Son of God,” but “Son of man”? He is the Son of God, but He didn't call Himself that. He called Himself the Son of man to identify with us. If as Deity Jesus defeats Satan, then we say, “Well—that lets me out….” Jesus came to identify with us in all things, to be tempted as we are, to suffer, and to conquer Satan—as a human being, not as God.
Lastly—and this is the sole offensive weapon you will find in the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18)—you must pick up the Sword of the Spirit and wield it against your enemy, the devil.
19. This is your most important tool. Look quickly at Ephesians 6:17.
a. What is the Sword of the Spirit?
Three times during the Wilderness Temptation when Satan came against Him, Jesus, the submissive Son of Almighty God, filled with the Holy Spirit, took the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God and ran him through with the Word.
“It is written,” He said (v. 4, 8, 12). We must learn to unsheathe the sword and use it verbally against Satan.
Answer this question honestly: are you familiar enough with the Word of God to wield it in a fight? Every good soldier has target practice with his weapon. He is trained on it. An archer goes to the archery range. A marksman takes target practice. How often are you in the Word of God, learning it, asking the Father about it, trying it, testing it, and firing it at your enemy when he comes calling.
You must be in the Word, pondering it, meditating upon it, asking God to reveal it to you, and committing verses to memory. The Word of God is your weapon. Be sharpening it!
Jesus was satisfied in His relationship with His Father. He didn’t need to indulge His passions for possessions or power or assert or affirm His personhood.
Jesus knew who He was, what He had, and where He was going.
Thus He wasn't susceptible to this flim‑flam artist and liar, Satan.
Understand who you are in the Lord Jesus Christ, and when the devil says, “Hey, satisfy your passions,” you will say, “I'm satisfying my passions serving the Lord Jesus Christ,” then wield your Sword. Dismiss him with the living, breathing WORD.