Last week, we talked about who Satan is and what kind of power he has. This week, we'll cover the difference between temptation and testing, and how to stand up against the Devil's schemes.
Temptation vs. Testing
Last week, we learned that Satan is a liar, a divider, and a discourager. Often, his attacks will lead to temptation. But how can we distinguish such temptation from God's testing in our lives? The words usually translated tempt, trial, or test are the same word in the Bible. It's the intent behind that word that makes the difference in the English translation. A temptation is a particular kind of test that is an enticement to sin. Satan's intent is our destruction. He seeks to destroy our relationship with God and to bring more death into the world. God's intent in testing us, on the other hand, is for our benefit, our life, and our healthy relationship with Him. God wants us to be sanctified, to be transformed into Christ's likeness, and God never wants us to fail. Satan seeks our failure, but God both seeks our good and actively causes all things to work together for our good and His glory.
Armed for Battle
When temptation comes from our enemy, Satan, we have a defense. Ephesians 6 outlines the components of our spiritual "armor," with which we can defeat the enemy. All believers have access to this armor, but putting it on is a choice. Applying what we know about this spiritual armor is part of our transformation into Christ's likeness. So, let's break down the components. Wearing the "belt of truth" involves living in truth on a daily basis. It not only means that we seek truth in God's word, but that we, ourselves, are truthful people, committed to truth in every area of life. Similarly, the "breastplate of righteousness" not only refers to Christ's perfect righteousness that is imputed onto the believer, but also to righteous living. Both truth and righteousness ought to be a way of life for us, so that we can recognize and combat Satan's lies. The "gospel of peace" involves the assurance we have of peace with God through Christ. Satan tries to separate us from God, but when we are firm in our relationship with God because of Christ's peace-making work on the cross, we will not be shaken by the enemy's lies. In a similar way, faith is our "shield," for when we stand confidently in the knowledge that we have been saved, that we are being saved, and that we will be saved, we can put out whatever fires of doubt the devil might try to start. Finally, we are armed with God's word and prayer in the Spirit. When we both know and apply God's word in our lives, and when we pray in the Holy Spirit at all times, we will be prepared for whatever trials, tests, or temptations come our way.
Questions to Consider:
- When I feel as though I am being enticed toward sin, do I take it as an excuse to fail or an opportunity to grow in faith?
- Are there areas of God's word that I know, mentally, but still need to apply?
- Am I living in truth and righteousness in my daily life?
- How can I make prayer in the Spirit a more regular part of my day?