TEMPTATION: AN INSTRUMENT OF PROVEN INTEGRITY by Rev’d M.K.O. Akanni

Temptation is persuasion to do what is wrong. It is part of a crafty plan that appeals to our natural desires in attempt to separate us from God. It’s also Satan’s invitation to give in to his kind of life and give up on God’s kind of life. Often, temptation begins in seemingly harmless pleasure, soon gets out of control, and progresses to full blown idolatry. Although, temptation can be used positively in scripture, we most associate temptation with giving in to sin and evil. The bible teaches that temptation to sin is Satan’s main activity in our lives even though our own selfishness and appetites certainly make the tempter’s work easier.

From the Gospel according to St Matthew 4:1-11, we are made to know that Jesus was led by the Spirit to the wilderness simply to have His faith tried; meaning that it was by the influence of the Spirit that Christ went into the wilderness to try Him, to make proof of His faith, ministry and integrity. The first act of the ministry of Jesus Christ was a combat with Satan. This kind of temptation was meant to seduce Jesus from His allegiance to God; it was a temptation in the bad sense of the term. The devil focused on three crucial areas when he tempted Jesus.

  1. Physical needs and desires –  Food
  2. Possessions and power – I will give you this and that.
  3. Pride – Jump down, He will make His angels charge of you (Mo le fo,mo le to lo mu akere pon nitan but in all of these, Jesus did not give in to Satan.

The food that Jesus resisted after forty days of fasting was a snare to Eve and small prophet because they could not control their appetite for food, the possessions He jettisoned was what Achan went to hide even at the war front – what an entanglement?  The major downfall of King Herod was a pride of position which Jesus did not even count as a thing to equal Him to God.

Being tempted to sin does not mean the same thing as sinning, of course, temptation is inevitable for Christians. Jesus was tempted but did not sin. The temptation of Jesus was premium upon the public approval of His ministry by God in Matthew 3:16-17 – And Jesus when he was baptized went up straight way out of the water; and lo, the heavens were opened unto him and he saw the spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him. And lo, a voice from heaven saying; this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased. Job was tried because of his un-equal qualities 1. As a perfect man. 2. As an upright man. 3. As one that fears God. 4. As one who shuns evil. (Job 1:8, 2:3). Joseph’s integrity was tested while he was alone with the wife of his master but vehemently rejected a free offer of sex that could have earned him more human favour in the house of Portiphar since we know that woman is Key in the affairs of every home. Joseph could resist the temptation not because the circumstances surrounding the scene were favourable to him, but out of a seemingly closed way out, he found himself out of the ugly situation half-naked – an evidence of case against him in the law court. He suffered the just course but guarded his integrity ( He could have said she seduced me, she charmed me, she lured me… had he given in to sin) “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God; – [The statement] and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, andgot him out – [The action] (Genesis 39:9c, 12b). This incident could have been a justifying excuse for people like Reuben who slept with the concubine of his father (Gen. 35:22); King David who saw the nakedness of Uriah’s wife from far balcony and eventually slept with her (11Samuel11); what of Amnon, who pretended to be indisposed just to have sex with Tamar, his sister of the same father (11Samuel 13).

Fathers in the Lord, it is not an overstatement to say that one may not be regarded as a true Christian if he’s not been faced with such a temptation that is difficult to overcome, most especially when one is left alone. For example, Joseph looked around, he saw no one, he looked up, he saw someone that is, God. No
wonder, Paul implores us in 1Cor. 10:12 that let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. The mighty can fall if he’s careless with the way he handles his Christian life. ( A doobale kan ki I subu, eni to duro lo nsubu, bi giga eniyan ba si ti to, bee naa ni isubu re yoo dun to nigba to ba subu. Bee si ni omi ti ko to nkan le gbe omuwe lo).

Temptation does not originate in the mind of God but within the heart of man (Matt.7:4-23). The integrity of man’s heart determines whether a man will overcome or fall by it. In the Epistle of James 1: 2-11, temptation is not limited to sense of allurements to sin, but trials or distresses of any kind which test and purify the Christians’ character. Every possible trial to the child of God is a master piece of strategy of the captain of his salvation for his good. God does not afflict or expose his children to temptation because he takes no pleasure in their distresses but for their benefit that they may be wiser and better, he does delight in helping us grow stronger through it. Many today have fallen short of God’s glory because of temptations they could not resist, they have jeopardized the grace and the anointing of God upon their lives, they have even dragged the name of God into the mud; but the good news is that all hope is not yet lost on them as this year has been declared as our year of divine restoration, and I see God restoring them to their rightful position in Jesus name. For us who think we stand, Jesus gave an example of the way to resist temptation, to baffle the tempter and to overcome when tempted.

8 Ways to avoid Temptation

  1. To flee__ You don’t cat-walk when there is temptation, the best strategy is to flee the situation (Gen. 39:6-12, 11Tim. 2:22a).
  2. Turn your back against it__ Sometimes our greatest temptation are those we think are our friends. (Prov. 10:10-14, Eph. 5:11).
  3. Be determined not to fall into it__ A solid commitment made before temptation strikes, is the best preventive to sin (Dan.1:8)./
  4. We must be prayerful__ When you are tempted turn to God for strength, make your temptation a constant focus of prayer and rebuke the tempter if possible- Get off me (Matt. 6:13, Heb.4:15,16).
  5. Say no when confronted with what we know is wrong (Gen. 39:7-12).
  6. Resist immediately, any delay makes it more difficult (John 4:7).
  7. Memorize and meditate on positions of scripture that combat your specific weaknesses (Joshua 1:8, Col.3:16, Ps.119:9-11).
  8. Find another believer with whom you openly share your struggles and call this person for help when temptation strikes (Gal. 6:1-3).

Satan’s favourite strategy is to make that which is sinful appear desirable and good. Be warned! Satan tempted Eve and succeeded in getting her to sin. Ever since then, he’s been busy getting people to sin. He even tempted Jesus but Jesus did not sin. Temptation: is an instrument of proven integrity. Will you overcome it or fall by it?

ACTION WORD: Hebrews 4:15,16

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