On temptation - Satan

If you haven't read the comments to my post on demon possession, Jason Wilson and Ben Brown had some good things to say. I will be pulling out some excerpts here.

From Jason's post:

"Tempting Jesus in the desert, now that was a good strategy on Satan's part, but me?"

It seems like Satan wants to prevent anyone from entering the kingdom of God. I'll just pull some passages out of my magical hat (otherwise known as a concordance).

I think the parable of the sower is very appropriate for this discussion.

(Mat 13:19-23 NASB) "When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. {20} "And the one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word, and immediately receives it with joy; {21} yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. {22} "And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. {23} "And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit, and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty."

Here we have the soil that was sown beside the road. It never even was planted. The person didn't even understand it because the evil one came and snatched it away.

The next two, the rocky and thorny soil, appear to be people who don't respond due to themselves or things happening around them and not the power of the evil one. I'll touch on self-temptation more tomorrow.

(John 17:15 NASB) ""I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one."

Jesus prayed that his followers would be kept from the evil one. Obviously, the evil one effecting his followers was a concern for his. He also, depending on your translation, taught us to pray "rescue us from the evil one" (MATT 6:13 NRSV). Satan's role in attacking us is definitely biblical.

But I do think there is a lot of truth to learn from what Jason said. I can understand your desire to react to the way people overuse Satan as an excuse. They almost go so far as to excuse sin because Satan made them do it. They say there was just nothing they could do about it; the urge was overwhelming because Satan is so powerful.

(Eph 6:16 NASB) "In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one."

Not only do we have Jesus' prayer of protection going to the Father to watch over us, we have a faith that will "extinginguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one." I picture a flaming missile as something that strikes from afar. Paul doesn't describe the attacks of the evil one as a knife but as something that a coward uses from a distance. A flaming missile is unexpected. Once it's launched, if we're paying attention, we will see the flames and be able to get out of the way. The problem comes if we're not focused on being vigilant. Then the flaming missile can enter our lives and cause destruction undisturbed.

We have nothing to fear. God has promised to protect us from the evil one. When talking about temptation and the power of Satan, we need to cling to the promise God gave us in Corinthians and Thessalonians.

(1 Cor 10:13 NASB) "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it."

(2 Th 3:3 NASB) "But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one."

(1 John 5:18-19 NASB) "We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him and the evil one does not touch him. {19} We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one."

I John is the most difficult book in the Bible for me. "No one who is born of God sins." John makes such bold claims. The church has a long way to go. We have become comfortable with sin. "Everyone commits it." "Don't be legalistic." John goes a little further.

(1 John 3:5-10 NASB) "And you know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. {6} No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. {7} Little children, let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; {8} the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil. {9} No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. {10} By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother."

We are able to know who follows Christ and who follows the devil because of their sin. Now don't say that too loud because the church doesn't want to hear it.

One thought I just had is that Jason could be more right than I thought previously. With the parable of the sower we see that the only one the evil one had power over was the one who did not understand, the pre-Christian. We do have Jesus' and our own prayers of protection going to the Father. We have the words of John that say the evil one does not touch the one who follows God. Mix in the passage from Ephesians that says that Satan attacks us with flaming missiles, and I almost come to the conclusion that Satan can't get close to us if we are right with God. He can only attack by afar launching flaming missiles. We are protected as long as we are living with God.

I want to keep going but I'm trying to make shorter posts. I'll take the other side of the coin tommorrow and talk about Ben's comments and the temptation of the flesh.