Temptation seems like such an easy thing to resist…until we’re tempted. Whether it comes in the form of denying ourselves a cookie or refusing to taste morsels of gossip, the spectrum of enticements ranges wide and deep. In a culture that thrives on indulgence, we are bombarded on every side. How can we possibly resist?
Much of our temptation stems from some form of doubt. Yep, doubt. Each one of Jesus’ encounters with the devil hinged on doubt. First, the devil tried to make him doubt himself. “If you are the Son of God….” (Luke 4:3). He wanted Jesus to question what God had spoken to him only forty days earlier—“You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (John 3:22). Doubts as to who he was would undercut his whole mission.
In Jesus’ second temptation, the devil attempted to get him to doubt the plan. He showed him all the kingdoms of the world and offered to give them to him if he would just worship him instead of God. In other words, bypass the cross, bypass suffering. Satan could take him to the same place as God, but in a much easier fashion.
The third temptation cast doubt on God’s faithfulness. The devil even used scripture to entice Jesus into “proving” that God would rescue him if he threw himself off the temple. If Jesus had taken up the offer, it would have revealed doubts about God’s character. We don’t usually trust what we have to test.
Any of these forms of temptation sound familiar to you? Has the devil ever caused you to doubt who you are as a child of God? Has he tempted you to doubt God’s plan in your life, and deceived you into thinking that your suffering is unnecessary? Has he tried to convince you that if God doesn’t act in a certain way, then he can’t possibly be for you?
I’ve encountered that crafty serpent in each of these areas on more than one occasion. The Word of God enabled Jesus to resist him and the Word of God enables me. If we hope to defeat doubt and not fall to temptation, let’s wield what proves to be “sharper than any two-edged sword” and slice right through the battleground of our minds.