Bible Study

Satan’s Purpose in Temptation

Michael Beck

I. Where does temptation come from? (or, what is temptation OF?)

No temptation is OF God.

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man (James 1:13)

All temptation is OF the devil. He is called “the tempter” in scripture.

And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. (Matthew 4:3)

For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain. (1 Thessalonians 3:5)

II. What does temptation come through? (or, what is temptation BY?)

1. We can be tempted directly by Satan.

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. (Luke 4:8)

But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? (Acts 5:3)

2. We can be tempted through one of a multitude of wicked spirits that fill the atmosphere.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)

3. We can be tempted through malicious human enemies.

The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? (Matthew 19:3)

4. We can be tempted through well meaning family or friends.

But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. (Matthew 16:23)

Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. (Job 2:9)

5. We can be tempted through the “good” Satan shows us in the world.

And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. (Luke 4:5,6)

6. We can be tempted through our own strong desires.

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. (James 1:14)

7. We can be tempted though the distress of an evil day.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13)

8. We can be tempted by the calm of a prosperous day.

For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. (Proverbs 1:32)

And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. (Psalm 30:6)

II. Why does the devil tempt us? (What is temptation UNTO?)

Satan’s goal in temptation is to separate us from God.

And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat (Luke 22:31)

Satan questions and hates any man’s faithfulness to God.

And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?
Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? (Job 1:8,9)

Satan’s uses every means he can to cause the faithful to fall.

Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the LORD helped me. (Psalm 118:13)

Powers of darkness target and plot the downfall of every person who would walk with God.

Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer: preserve my life from fear of the enemy.
Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked; from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity:
Who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words:
That they may shoot in secret at the perfect: suddenly do they shoot at him, and fear not. (Psalm 64:1-4)

Powers of darkness study men for any vulnerabilities and carefully craft snares suited to each individual.

They encourage themselves in an evil matter: they commune of laying snares privily; they say, Who shall see them?
They search out iniquities; they accomplish a diligent search: both the inward thought of every one of them, and the heart, is deep. (Psalm 64:5,6)

To be ignorant of the devil’s unique devices against us is to give him an advantage over us.

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. (2 Corinthians 2:11)

How does the devil use trials?

The enemy of our soul “comes out to meet” us in the “day of our calamity.”

He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me.
They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD was my stay. (Psalm 18:17,18)

prevent > Hebrew – qadam > come out to meet

Difficult trials from without inevitably produce temptations within.

For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears. (2 Corinthians 7:5)

Satan knew he could exploit the day of Job’s calamity and tempt him to curse God.

But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face…
So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. (Job 2:5,7)

The devil is especially active to devour us when we are afflicted with trouble.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. (1 Peter 5:8,9)

When we fall, Satan stands over us and gloats.

…Let them not rejoice over me.
Let them not say in their hearts, Ah, so would we have it: let them not say, We have swallowed him up. (Psalm 35:24,25)

How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved. (Psalm 13:2-4)

Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me. (Micah 7:8)

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.