How Can Christians Defeat All Sorts of Temptations? (Audio Essay)
In this materialistic age, every day we encounter all kinds of enticements, such as money, reputation, status and the relations between opposite sexes, and no one can avoid crossing paths with all manner of temptations. For example, when we dabble in the world of business, we initially want to make money relying on our conscience, and do business in a moral way. But when we see other people in the same business making stacks of cash by cheating unscrupulously, we envy them, and our desire to cling to money drives us to go beyond the boundaries of our conscience, and the satanic rules of life such as “Money is above all else,” “It doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice,” “Money is not all-powerful, but you really can’t do anything without it” arise in the deepest recesses of our hearts. After pondering and struggling for a while, we begin to live by these satanic rules of life, and in order to make even more money, we begin to go against our conscience and employ all manner of improper methods and means in our actions. When we are used to seeing the ugliness in society where people mock the poor yet accept prostitutes, then we are inevitably tempted and influenced by such evil trends as having a wife or husband at home but also taking a lover, and not looking for a lasting relationship but just looking for experiences. Our hearts begin to advocate wickedness, and thus we live outrageously in physical lust, and for the sake of a moment’s excitement, we lose our power of self-control, we engage in extramarital affairs, take a mistress and go beyond all moral boundaries. This in turn leads to the breakup of the family, and can even lead to fatal disaster. When we are powerless and without status, we can believe very self-confidently that if we become an official, then we will most certainly be a good, honest and upright official. But the moment we enter officialdom, and are faced with money and status that are so easily attainable, then in spite of ourselves, little by little, we get sucked into a whirlpool of sin. Ultimately, because we cannot overcome the temptations of money and power, we engage in embezzlement and corrupt practices, we use bribes and we abuse our power, until one day our criminal behavior is exposed, and all that can happen is that we end up thrown into prison, and we lose our family. When we play mahjong or cards as an entertaining diversion, even more so we will think self-confidently that “I’m only whiling away the time when I have nothing to do,” but little do we realize that the moment we enter the gambling den, we get into a vicious spiral of “the more I win, the more I want to win, and if I lose then I want to win it back.” In the end, we get mired deeper and deeper, so much so that we bring our families to financial ruin and repentance comes too late! In real life, all manner of temptations are ubiquitous and omnipresent; they are impossible to guard against, and at any moment we can fall into Satan’s cunning traps and go astray! Therefore, we mustn’t think that we inherently possess an “immunity” against temptation, and the best method can only be shunning enticements and rejecting temptation in a timely way! Of course, we all understand in principle that shunning enticements is the best way to reject temptation, but the objective fact is that all kinds of fatal enticements follow us like our own shadow, and if we don’t have any “immunity” against temptation, then we can sink into inescapable sin at any moment. Ultimately, we will become exhausted both physically and mentally, we will bring disgrace and ruin upon ourselves, and will even pay the price with our lives.
The Bible says: “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death” (Jas 1:14-15). It may be seen that, after we were corrupted by Satan, all kinds of sinful desires such as arrogance, deceit, selfishness, greed and maliciousness entered into our hearts and became our nature. Satan uses all the likes and selfish desires of our flesh to entice us and fool us, to make us go against God’s word, and follow the likes of our flesh to do defiant and rebellious things against God. God’s words say: “God does His work, God cares for a person, looks upon this person, and all the while Satan dogs His every step. Whomever God favors, Satan also watches, trailing along behind. If God wants this person, Satan would do everything in its power to obstruct God, using various evil ploys to tempt, disrupt and wreck the work God does, all in order to achieve its hidden objective. What is this objective? It does not want God to gain anyone; all those that God wants it wants for itself, it wants to occupy them, control them, to take charge of them so they worship it, so they join it in committing evil acts. Is this not Satan’s sinister motive?” (“God Himself, the Unique IV” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). We are the ones which God created, and which God supplies, cares for and saves, but at the same time we are also the ones which Satan spies on and seduces, and which it tries to plunder and devour. God wants to save man, and so Satan corrupts man, for Satan is the enemy of God. Ever since Satan seduced the ancestors of man, Adam and Eve, into eating the fruit of the tree of good and evil and betraying God, it has never stopped tempting and harassing the whole of mankind. Satan wants us to shun God, betray God, lose His salvation and live forever in Satan’s domain, to be possessed and controlled by it, to do evil as it does, to defy and rebel against God, to live in the quagmire of sin, and to ultimately end up perishing—this is Satan’s sinister motive.
So then, how can we see through Satan’s cunning schemes and reject temptation? The Bible says: “Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If you be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Mat 4:1-4). “Again, the devil takes him up into an exceeding high mountain, and shows him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And said to him, All these things will I give you, if you will fall down and worship me. Then said Jesus to him, Get you hence, Satan: for it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve. Then the devil leaves him, and, behold, angels came and ministered to him” (Mat 4:8-11). From Satan’s actions to tempt the Lord Jesus, we may see its insidious and wicked essence. All things in heaven and on earth are made by God and are under His sovereignty, and yet Satan knows no shame, and so not only did it use the things God had created to tempt the Lord Jesus, but it also had the audacity to ask the Lord Jesus to worship it, and from this we can therefore see that Satan is so incredibly savage. Satan believed that its cunning scheme would succeed, but just a few words from the Lord Jesus caused it to flee with shame, for the Lord Jesus’ words are the truth, the way and the life, and they are the light that can reveal all the cunning schemes of Satan, and even more so defeat all evil forces—they are the weapons for countering Satan’s cunning schemes! Before the truth, Satan was left at a loss, and it fled in defeat.
God’s words say: “[E]verything God does and everything He reveals is connected to truth. That is, every word He has said and every action He has taken concerns the truth. This truth and these words are not some baseless fantasy, but rather they are expressed by God due to God’s substance and His life. Because these words and the substance of everything God has done are truth, we can say that God’s substance is holy. In other words, everything God says and does brings vitality and light to people; it allows people to see positive things and the reality of those positive things, and allows them to walk the right path. These things are determined because of God’s substance and they are determined due to the substance of His holiness” (“God Himself, the Unique V” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s essence is holy, and God is the symbol of all things positive; only the word of God is the truth, the way and the life, and when we accept God’s word, understand the truth and view the things we come across according to God’s word, we can then discern what is positive and what is negative, and we can see through Satan’s cunning schemes. When the truth has become our life, we will no longer fall into Satan’s temptations and suffer harm at its hands.
I remember that a male co-worker in my old work unit would often call me to ask how I was, and my affection for him grew apace. Although I was aware that I had a husband, yet my heart would always start to race whenever he called. One day, I read these words of God: “You are in the same circumstances as I, yet you are covered with filth; you do not even contain the smallest bit of the original likeness of the humans who were created in the beginning. Moreover, because every day you imitate the likenesses of those unclean spirits, doing what they do and saying what they say, all parts of you—even your tongues and lips—are soaked in their foul water, to the point that you are entirely covered with such stains, and not a single part of you can be used for My work. It is so heartbreaking! … Their words nourish your heart and captivate you so that you become disoriented and, without realizing it, you are sucked in and willing to be of service to them, becoming their outlet and servant. You have no complaints at all, but are willing to work for them like dogs, like horses; you are deceived by them” (“Your Character Is So Lowly!” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Today, this truth, this way, and this life do not attract you; rather, you are attracted to sinfulness; to money; to standing, fame and gain; to the enjoyments of the flesh; to the handsomeness of men and charms of women. What qualifies you to enter My kingdom?” (“Practice (7)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words awakened my heart that had been duped by Satan, and made me see clearly that what that male co-worker was saying to me was precisely Satan trying to entice me, and the idea of wanting to have affair with him in my heart also had its source in the temptation of Satan. At the same time, I came to understand that Satan was trying to use the wicked desires of the flesh to lure me into committing sin, to make me hearken to those sweet words and then break through the boundaries of conscience and morality and slide down toward an abyss of sin. From God’s words, I saw that God’s essence is holy, that His disposition is righteous and unoffendable, that God loves people who yearn for justice and who pursue a life of light, and that He hates it when people live in wickedness. If people are promiscuous and do filthy things, then they are unworthy of entering God’s kingdom and seeing God’s face. Faced with God’s words of sincerity and earnestness, I felt so ashamed inside, and I made a resolution to forsake Satan and to live with integrity and dignity and, afterward, I determined to give up my “concern” for my male co-worker. It was God’s care and protection that prevented me from sliding into the whirlpool of an extramarital affair, and were it not for the guidance of God’s words, then the consequences would have been unthinkable.
It can therefore be seen that Satan’s enticements and temptations may look as though it’s just people associating with each other and coming into contact with each other, but actually the reality is that a spiritual battle is raging behind the scenes; if we are without the truth, then we will surely be seduced by Satan and will slide down into an abyss of sin. But when we understand the truth, God’s will and requirements from within His words, and we forsake our own fleshly desires and practice in accordance with His words, we are then able to see through Satan’s cunning schemes and we will not become lost. These words of God come to mind: “God has given life to man, given man everything, and bestows all this on man unconditionally without demanding anything, without any ulterior motive. He uses the truth, His words, and His life to lead and guide man, bringing man away from the harm of Satan, away from Satan’s temptations and inducements, allowing man to see clearly through Satan’s evil nature and hideous face. Is God’s love and concern for mankind true? Is it something that every one of you can experience? (Yes.)” (“God Himself, the Unique IV” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). As I carefully contemplate these words of God, I recall the work of salvation God does in me, and my heart feels warm. At the same time, I gain further verification that the truth is the only powerful weapon that can defeat the temptations of Satan. God’s words are bountiful and complete, and they reveal in total clarity all the various corruptions and weaknesses of man, as well as all the cunning schemes and temptations of Satan. As long as we accept all the truths expressed by God, put more effort into His words, see things according to the truth and take His words as the standards for our actions, then we will be able to see through all of Satan’s cunning schemes, and defeat all its temptations.