Christian Stories: How to Overcome the Temptations of Satan (Part 1)
By Geng Xin
Editor’s Note: The Bible records, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Satan is incredibly insidious, evil and treacherous. It does not want us to attain God’s salvation and so it frequently enacts its deceitful schemes against us in an attempt to make us shun God and betray God, so it can then devour our souls. When we are attacked by Satan’s temptations, how should we deal with them? I trust that Brother Geng Xin’s experiences will allow you to reap some benefit.
When I was 16, I accepted the gospel of the Lord Jesus. With the Lord’s blessing, when I grew up, I opened a medical clinic. I did well for myself, and I knew that this was by the Lord’s grace. Later, I had the fortune to accept Almighty God’s work of the last days and I welcomed the Lord’s return. I was thrilled and could hardly wait to tell this fantastic news to those brothers and sisters in my old church who were true believers and who looked forward to the Lord’s coming. Thanks be to God! When they heard Almighty God’s words, they recognized them as the voice of God, and one by one they turned to Almighty God and came to attend the wedding feast of the Lamb. Every day, we enjoyed being watered and nourished by God’s words, our spirits were content, and we came to understand many truths we had not understood before.
But good times don’t last long and, about a month later, the pastors and elders of my old church found out that I’d led the brothers and sisters to accept Almighty God’s work of the last days and they harbored great resentment toward me. One day, the pastors and elders took advantage of the fact that I was at work at the clinic to go to my home and sow discord between me and my wife. They made her oppose my faith in Almighty God and they said that if I persisted in my belief, then the Lord would no longer bestow His grace and blessings on our family.
That evening, I returned home to find my wife looking very unhappy, and she said, “Our family has obtained so much grace from the Lord, but you have now begun to believe in Almighty God and you have left the Lord. What will we do if the Lord stops blessing us? I think you should listen to Pastor Wang, stop believing in Almighty God and hurry back to church to believe in the Lord.” I said to my wife, “We’ve been looking forward to the coming of the Lord every day, and now He has returned and is performing a new stage of work. If I return to my old church, won’t I then be abandoned and weeded out by God? The Lord Jesus clearly prophesies in the Bible: ‘I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come’ (John 16:12–13). And in chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation, it is prophesied many times that: ‘He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ Christ of the last days—Almighty God—has appeared to do His work and He expresses His words to tell all truths to us. These truths are what the Holy Spirit says to the churches, and when any brother and sister from any denomination who truly believes in the Lord and yearns for His return reads Almighty God’s words, they all acknowledge that these words are the truth, that they possess authority and power and that they come from God. They all accept Almighty God’s work of the last days and become certain that Almighty God is the Lord Jesus returned. The pastors and elders, however, try to stop us from investigating and accepting Almighty God’s work of the last days. Do their actions accord with the Lord’s will? Are their actions based on the Lord’s words? Do they have even a shred of a God-fearing heart? When the Lord Jesus exposed the Pharisees, He said: ‘But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in’ (Matthew 23:13). The Pharisees resisted and condemned the Lord Jesus’ words and work, and they tried to stop the Jewish faithful from accepting Him. They even instigated the faithful to reject the Lord Jesus, until ultimately they collaborated with the Roman authorities to crucify the Lord Jesus, and thus they were cursed and punished by the Lord. Now faced with the new work being performed by the returned Lord Jesus, the pastors and elders not only do not actively seek and accept it, but instead they do all they can to stop us from investigating and accepting the true way—how are they any different from the Pharisees? If I do what they say and reject Almighty God, then I’ll be standing on the side of the Pharisees in opposition to God. I just won’t do it!” Seeing me so resolute, my wife threw the dishcloth on the table and yelled, “If you persist in your belief in Almighty God, then I’ll have nothing more to do with this family!” I was stunned. My wife had always been so mild-tempered. We’d been married for five years and never had she lost her temper like this. Why had she become so unreasonable all of a sudden? If she really left me, I really wouldn’t be able to cope on my own, and my life would be turned upside down. On the other hand, it had been a long, hard road to be able to welcome the Lord’s return, and if I returned to my old church to believe in the Lord there, I would forever lose the chance to attain true salvation. No, I thought. No matter what, I must stick close to God’s footsteps, and wherever God performed His work, I would follow. I decided that I must take a stand. Thinking these thoughts, I said to my wife, “I hope you can respect my choice.”
Hearing me say this, my wife was so angry that she stormed off to our bedroom and slammed the door, paying no more attention to me. The next morning, my wife handed me our child and moved to her mother’s house. I took our son to nursery and then went to the clinic to start work. In the evening, I went to pick up our son and, after I got home, I had to go buy groceries, cook dinner and clean the apartment. I was so busy, I hadn’t a moment to rest. Seeing how deserted and lonesome our home looked, I seethed with anger and I blamed my wife for being so unreasonable. The more I thought about it, the more annoyed I got, and I couldn’t even take in any of God’s words when I read them. I felt so depressed.
At my church meeting the next afternoon, I told the group about my difficulties and a brother gave me fellowship: “When one encounters opposition in one’s family, it is actually a war that is raging in the spiritual world. Brother, we’ll understand when we view things according to God’s words. God’s word says, ‘In every step of work that God does within people, externally it appears to be interactions between people, as if born of human arrangements or from human interference. But behind the scenes, every step of work, and everything that happens, is a wager made by Satan before God, and requires people to stand firm in their testimony to God. Take when Job was tried, for example: Behind the scenes, Satan was making a bet with God, and what happened to Job was the deeds of men and the interference of men. Behind every step of work that God does in you is Satan’s wager with God—behind it all is a battle’ (“Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). ‘What God wants to do in man is exactly what Satan wants to destroy, and what Satan wants to destroy is expressed through man, completely unconcealed. There are clear examples of what God does in people: Their conditions are getting better and better. There are also clear representations of Satan’s destruction in mankind: They are becoming more and more depraved, and their conditions are sinking ever lower. Once their situations grow dire enough, they are liable to be captured by Satan’ (“Chapter 15” of Interpretations of the Mysteries of God’s Words to the Entire Universe in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Brother, we understand when we read God’s words, don’t we? The issues you’ve encountered over the past few days look on the surface to be your wife having a dispute with you, but in the spiritual world they are actually Satan attacking and tempting you. In the last days, Almighty God has come to perform the final stage of work—that of using words to judge and purify man—to enable us to thoroughly cast off the dark influence of Satan, return before God and attain His true salvation. Satan is unwilling to fail, however, and so it uses the religious pastors and elders and our own families to harass us and stop us from accepting God’s salvation of the last days. It tries to destroy our normal relationship with God and make us shun and betray God. Therefore, what we should do at this critical juncture of this war in the spiritual world is see through Satan’s deceitful schemes, stand witness for God and, no matter how Satan attacks us or harasses us, we must never surrender and turn back. When Job was tempted by Satan, for example, his livestock was stolen, his children met an unfortunate demise, his whole body was covered in painful boils and even his wife attacked him. Satan wanted to employ these means to force Job to betray God, but Job was not fooled, nor did he complain about God. Instead, he kept to the way of fearing God and shunning evil and he believed that everything was in God’s hands. Whether God blessed Job or took everything he had away, he always submitted to God’s orchestrations and arrangements. In the end, Job relied on his faith, obedience and fear of God to defeat Satan, and he stood firm in his testimony for God. Therefore, when we encounter the temptations of Satan today, we should view them from the perspective of the spiritual world and see through Satan’s deceitful schemes. Otherwise, we will be in danger of being ravished by Satan.”
After listening to the brother’s fellowship, I finally understood that what I was currently going through was nothing less than a war in the spiritual world. Satan was using my wife’s dispute with me to make me get all entangled in home matters so that I became exhausted and incapable of quieting my heart before God and reading God’s words. This would then lead me to lose my normal relationship with God and be ravished by Satan once again. At that moment, I finally saw that Satan was so insidious and malicious, and I decided that I would never again allow it to fool me. After the brother had left, I went before God and prayed: “O Almighty God! I’ve been so blind and I didn’t know how to discern Satan’s deceitful scheme in the light of Your words. Instead, I blamed my wife for being unreasonable and I fell into negativity and was almost caught in Satan’s deceitful scheme. O God! I wish to stand witness for You in this spiritual war. Amen.”
In the blink of an eye, seven days passed since my wife walked out. I had tried calling her many times, but most of the time she didn’t pick up, and sometimes she would say, “I can come back if you want me to, but you have to stop believing in Almighty God.” I knew that God was testing my faith; my wife was also in God’s hands and whether she came back or not was up to God. One evening, after I’d bathed our son and put him to bed, he cried and called for his mommy, and I spent a lot of time trying to coax him until, finally, I managed to calm him down. I looked at the heap of used bowls, chopsticks and leftovers on the table that needed sorting out and clearing away, and that evening I also had a church meeting to attend. With my son so young, he couldn’t stay at home on his own, so all I could do was worry. I felt such a heavy burden weighing down on me and I suddenly felt how exhausting and painful my faith was. I felt all my energy instantly evaporate and I just sat down on a stool and stared at a fluorescent lamp …
Just then, I couldn’t help but lose myself in my memories. I thought of how, ever since my wife and I got married, we’d never had such a fight. Whenever we’d fallen out before, we would perhaps not speak to each other for two days at the most, and afterward we’d become reconciled once again. Our life had been pretty happy. If my wife and I were to be deadlocked because of my faith in God and I, an adult man, were to both work and raise our child, wouldn’t that destroy me? Oh, why was believing in God so hard? I really wanted to believe in God in earnest, but what should I do now that these problems had befallen me? The more I thought about it, the more dejected I became.
Just at that moment, Brother Li and Brother Zhang came to my home and they asked if anything was up, seeing as I hadn’t attended our church meeting. I told them everything that had happened, and I said, “I’ve been constantly praying to God over the last few days, so why hasn’t my wife come back already? I just can’t do it all on my own. If she keeps this up, how will I have the time or the energy to believe in God? When I believed in the Lord before, my wife took care of home matters and I had the time to work for the Lord. But look at what’s become of me now. Oh, why has God stopped blessing me?”
Seeing how dispirited and low I was feeling, brother Li spoke patiently with me, saying, “Brother, from what you’ve said, I can see that you haven’t yet corrected your view of God, but are still believing in God in order to obtain grace and blessings. If we don’t remedy our wrong view of belief in God, then we become susceptible to having our weaknesses exploited by Satan, we won’t be able to embark upon the right track of belief in God, and we are even in danger of betraying God. Let’s read a passage of God’s words. God’s word says, ‘People merely regard the attainment of grace and the enjoyment of peace as symbols of faith, and see the seeking of blessings as the basis for their belief in God. Very few people seek to know God or seek a change in their disposition. In their faith, people seek to make God give them a suitable destination and all the grace they need, to make Him their servant, to have Him maintain a peaceful, friendly relationship with them so that, no matter when, there would never be any conflict between them. That is, their belief in God demands that He promise to meet all their requirements and to bestow upon them whatever they pray for, in keeping with the words they have read in the Bible, “I will listen to all your prayers.” … Here is how people believe in God: They just shamelessly make demands of God, believing that whether they are rebellious or obedient, He would just grant everything to them blindly. They just continually “collect debts” from God, believing He must “repay” them without any resistance and, moreover, pay double; they think, whether God has gotten anything from them or not, He can only be manipulated by them, and He cannot arbitrarily orchestrate people, much less reveal to people His wisdom and righteous disposition, which have been hidden for many years, whenever He wants and without their permission. They simply confess their sins to God, believing God would just absolve them, that He would not get sick of doing so, and that this will go on forever. They just order God about, believing He would just obey them, because it is recorded in the Bible that God did not come to be served by humans, but to serve them, and that He is here to be their servant. Have you not always believed in this way?’” (“You Should Put Aside the Blessings of Status and Understand God’s Will to Bring Salvation to Man” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Brother Zhang then gave fellowship, saying, “God’s words reveal the wrong views of belief in God that we harbor within us. We believe in God in order to obtain blessings, and we want to use God to achieve our aim of obtaining grace, believing that, since we believe in God, then everything must be smooth sailing, easy and comfortable. Even when we come across difficulties, if we pray to God, then God has to resolve them for us. When we pray to God and see that God has not opened up a way for us and has not done as we wished, we become dispirited and filled with misunderstandings, and we begin to blame God. We then see that within our faith there exists many defilements and that we are entirely trying to make deals with God—this is totally at odds with God’s will. We are created beings and worshiping God is a heavenly law and an earthly decree. And yet we always want to get grace and blessings in return from God, and if God doesn’t bestow them upon us, we become dejected and we resist and blame God. Doesn’t that make us devoid of conscience and reason, and so selfish and despicable?” Brother Zhang paused for a moment and then went on. “Brother, Satan knows how great our desire is to obtain blessings, how we always want to get grace and blessings in return from God and how we always want to pursue family harmony. And so it attacks these weaknesses and uses them to tempt us, hoping in vain to use the unfortunate things that happen to us to make us misunderstand God and blame God, and perhaps even shun and betray God, so that we continue to be controlled and duped under its domain. Consequently, if we don’t remedy our view of belief in God whereby we believe in order to gain profit and obtain blessings, then we will be unable to overcome the temptations and harassment of Satan, and we will be constantly in danger of betraying God and losing our testimony, and losing God’s salvation of the last days.”
After listening to God’s words and the brother’s fellowship, I felt so ashamed. I realized that my own belief in God really was solely for the sake of obtaining blessings and grace, and the moment I didn’t receive any grace or blessings, I instantly lost all enthusiasm for it. Now my wife had fallen out with me, it seemed on the surface that I had not betrayed God, but after several days of praying my wife still hadn’t come back, and I had begun to complain about God for not showing understanding to my weaknesses and for not blessing my family with peace and harmony. I thought that, for someone like me who had been corrupted by Satan, to be fortunate enough to accept God’s salvation was already a tremendous blessing, and yet I hadn’t thanked God for showing me kindness and salvation. All I knew how to do was ask God for grace and blessings, and the minute any difficulty cropped up I complained about God—I really had been so selfish and despicable. I also realized that hidden within my wife’s stubborn refusal to come home was the deceitful schemes of Satan. Satan wanted to use my wrong view that belief in God was just to obtain grace and it wanted to use my wife falling out with me to make me surrender to it, to make me betray God and return to live under its domain so that, in the end, I would go down with it into hell. Satan is so evil! Once I had seen through Satan’s deceitful scheme, I made a resolution: I will stand on the side of God no matter what. I then said a prayer of obedience to God: “O God! Thanks be to the revelations of Your words that have enabled me to recognize how selfish and despicable I am, and how I always ask for Your grace in return for believing in You, which has led Satan to exploit my weaknesses. O God! I don’t wish to be someone without conscience. No matter how my flesh may suffer, I wish to follow You always.” After praying, my heart was calmed, and I no longer felt so dejected.
After the two brothers had left, I called my wife again to ask her when she was coming home. Unexpectedly, she answered the phone and came back home that very night. I truly witnessed that when I had recognized the despicable motives behind my belief in God, and when I became willing to remedy my wrong view of belief in God, sincerely repent to God and I found the resolve to stand witness for God, God then showed me mercy, He opened up a way for me and He resolved my practical problems.