Types of Temptation

Bible Book: 1 Corinthians  10 : 13
Subject: Temptation; Trials; Godly Living

The person who expects to live a life without problems is going to be as frustrated as the guy who thought that he was going to have a lawn without weeds. Both problems and temptations are inevitable!

A cartoon showed a little boy in a car watching his dad outside in the pouring rain fixing a flat tire. The boy peers out and asks, "Daddy, why this is happening to us? The father looks at the boy and says, "Son, don't you understand? This is life!"

It's the same with us. Life is hard. Troubles and trials abound. And unlike TV we can't switch to another channel. But Paul said, "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Now Paul doesn't say there are no temptations! In fact, he says the very opposite. Temptations are common to all mankind, but that's not the final word. Paul adds God's wonderful promise that we shall be able to overcome any temptation we may encounter.

The key idea is that we are able. He says we have the internal spiritual capability of either escaping or enduring the trials of life.

Christ said, "Pray that ye enter not into temptation." (Matthew 26:4). Yet, Luke says, "The spirit led Christ into the wilderness where he was tempted" (Luke 4:1-2).

These Scriptures teach us that everybody is tempted! Don't let anyone tell you that they are above sin or beyond doubt. Note that Luke says, "Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost... was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, Being forty days tempted of the devil... " (Luke 4:1-2, AV). It's significant that Christ was full of the Holy Spirit when he experienced his greatest temptation.

Indeed, temptations may not come in our moments of weakness. Instead, temptations may come in the midst of our success, joy and achievement because that's when we're likely to have let our guard down. Paul said, "Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (I Cor 10:12).

Temptations are ever present. Yet, certain phases and stages of life present their own special points of vulnerability. We're tempted differently in our youth, than we are in our middle years and old age. The Scriptures describe three different occasions when Christ was faced with tough decisions and particular temptations. We find that he was tempted in the wilderness, on the mountain and in the garden.


At the very beginning of his ministry Christ encountered a serious period of temptation. The Scripture says, "He ate nothing during those days; and when they had ended, he became hungry. And the devil said to him, `If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread... And when the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time" Luke 4:1-13). Youth is always an opportune time of temptation. We are immature; we are finding our identities; and we're planning our life. It's obviously a confused and trying period.

Christ faced temptations concerning physical needs (see Luke 4:2-3). All people have basic physical needs and it's always tempting to try to meet these needs with easy shortcuts. It's encouraging that Christ avoided such shortcuts, not by denying the physical need, but by going beyond them. "Jesus answered, `It is written, "Man shall not live on bread alone" ' " (Luke 4:4).

Christ faced temptation concerning possessions and power. "And he led him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to him, `I will give you all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if you worship before me, it shall all be yours' " (Luke 4:5-7).

Now, it's always desirable to get good things quickly, but again Christ avoided compromises. "Jesus answered and said to him, `It is written, "You shall worship the Lord your God and serve him only." ' " (Luke 4:8).

Then, Christ faced temptations concerning spiritual pride and presumption. "And he led him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, `If you are the son of God, cast yourself down from here; for it is written, "He will give His angels charge concerning you to guard you," and "On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone" ' " (Luke 4:9-11).

It's important to note that Christ avoided the supernatural intervention route, he had no unrealistic expectations of divine protection, even though there was Biblical precedence for such belief. "Jesus answered and said to him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God" (Luke 4:12, AV).

Young people just starting out have many temptations such as: physical gratification; choice of careers and lifestyles. These were the temptations Jesus faced.


Next, in the middle of his ministry Christ faced another set of temptations. The Scripture says, "From that time Jesus Christ began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, `God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to you.' But he turned and said to Peter, `Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's' " (Matthew 16:21-23).

Mid-life presents a period of reassessment and evaluation. Christ was tempted toward mediocrity. Peter suggested the lesser path. He advised against the costly choice. We can get tired and frustrated after long periods of battling problems and obstacles. It becomes tempting to say, "Who needs this? I'll just slow down and take it easy"; but Christ sharply rejected this suggestion (see Matthew 16:22-23).

The transfiguration experience took place a few days later and Christ was tempted toward idealism. It's easy to confuse dreams with accomplishment. It's easy to simply rest on our laurels and accept shallow praise instead of pushing on; but Christ rejected this suggestion (see Matthew 17:4-9).

Christ was also tempted toward irresponsibility. Sometimes we'd like to duck the tough decisions and shirk the mundane duties. We'd like to retire into ivory towers and forget the people in the valley; but again Christ rejected this luxury. He returned to the valley and served the people. (see Matthew 17:14-15,18).

Some people talk of mid-life crises. This is a time when we realize we're not immortal. We don't have unlimited time. Youth is fleeting. Many people make mistakes at this point. They "grab for the gusto," and compromise their principles. Jesus stayed on course and served his Heavenly Father.


Finally, at the end of Christ's ministry he faced a tremendous night of temptation.

The end of our lives, too, can be a time of bitterness and regret. We can feel sorry for ourselves and slump into apathy and self-pity. Christ faced the temptation of loneliness. "He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, `So, you men could not keep watch with me for one hour?' " (Matthew 26:46).

He was deserted by family, betrayed by an associate, and neglected by friends. The futility of it all was overwhelming. Yet, Christ refused to become cynical and hostile. He was forgiving and understanding of his weak brothers. "Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners" (Matthew 26:45).

Christ faced pain and discomfort. "He said to them, `My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death;... He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, `My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Thy will be done' " (Matthew 26:36-46).

These times are inevitable in our lives. Christ's emotional and mental agony were real. Anxiety and dread were present, yet he refused to succumb (see Matt 26:52).

Christ faced fear and death. "Arise, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays me is at hand! And Jesus said to (Judas), `Friend do what you have come for,' Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized him" (Matthew 27:46,50).

These final moments were real and hard. They weren't pleasant or sentimental. Death is not desirable and Christ didn't desire it, yet, even in the face of death, he refused to give up. "And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, `Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit.' And having said this, he breathed his last" (Luke 23:46).

Old age is a problem. Often we lose our health and our independence. It would be easy to have a "pity party" and give up; but Jesus remained faithful.

Yes, temptations are real and constant. We're all faced with difficult decisions and it's so tempting to take the easy road. We succumb little by little. We miss a worship service; we get lax about our Bible study; we cut a few corners and we neglect our prayer life. But these excuses won't work. Remember Paul said, "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it" (I Corinthians 10:13).


So, when we face temptations with tough choices and crucial decisions, there are 5 things we can do:

1. First, we can avoid them.

This means we must know our personal weaknesses and foresee possible circumstances and just don't get into dangerous situations.

2. Second, we can escape them.

This means we must be able to recognize bad conditions and get away immediately.

3. Third, we can resist them.

This means refusing to go along. Confront the problem. Reason, analyze and express your absolute conviction concerning the issue.

4. Fourth, we can substitute an activity.

This means we must distract ourselves with a positive action. Do something else. Replace the negative behavior with a positive behavior.

5. Finally, we can use the temptation.

This means we must salvage the insights and learn the lessons involved. Remember Paul said, "If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. But (God) said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'... That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 11:30; 12:9-10).

If we stay close to God we can let temptations teach us and strengthen us. But if we stray away from God, temptations will destroy us.

Dr. Robert Schuller said, "I have a favorite radio station that I listen to. When I'm traveling, one of the things I miss most is that I can't pick up my favorite station. Now, is the station dead? Has it quit functioning? Is my radio not broke? No! The station is still on the air, and my radio I okay. I'm just too far away to pick up the signal."

That's what happens to us. To overcome temptation we must stay in tune with God's Spirit.