By Jerelyn Pearson


The struggle to recognize and resist temptation is an ongoing battle for Christians. Even though we know that God has a plan for each of us, we are often tempted to do things our own way, especially when our way seems good. Instead of seeking his will and timing, we take things into our own hands. We want to provide for ourselves, protect ourselves, and determine our own purpose in life. And being very impatient, we want it all immediately. Following God’s plan isn’t always easy. The Bible gives us many examples of what happens when we follow our own plan and what happens when we follow God’s plan. Two such examples occur in the first books of the Old and New Testaments respectively. Genesis 3:1-6 is the familiar account of the temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Matthew 4:1-11 tells of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.

God placed Adam and Eve in a place where their every need was provided for. The scenery was beautiful. The weather was always perfect. There was plenty of healthy delicious food. But Eve was tempted to eat of the one tree which God had forbidden because the serpent made it seem okay, even desirable.

Genesis 3:6:
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat.

Rather than trust in God’s provision, she decided to step outside of his plan. How often do we step outside of God’s provision to do things our way?

Jesus was tempted in this same way. After Jesus had fasted for 40 days in the wilderness, he was hungry. Satan tempted him to make the stones into bread, to step outside of God’s provision and provide for himself.

Matthew 4:4:
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Jesus relied totally on God’s provision.

God placed Adam and Eve in his garden, a safe place, where they would be protected by him. The only requirement for this protection was obedience. They were forbidden to eat of one tree. The serpent convinced Eve that if they ate of the forbidden tree, they would be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Genesis 3:4-5:
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

They stepped outside of God’s protection, thinking they would be able to protect themselves. How often do we step outside of God’s protection in our own efforts to protect ourselves rather than trust him?

Satan’s second temptation of Jesus was to try to convince him to cast himself down from a pinnacle of the temple to prove that God would send angels to bear him up.

Matthew 4:6-7:
And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

Jesus refused to step outside of God’s protection.

God had an eternal plan for Adam and Eve to live in close fellowship with him. The serpent tempted Adam and Eve with what seemed to be an easier, quicker plan.

Genesis 3:4-5:
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

In what ways do we look for the easy way, the quick way, to accomplish our plans or even God’s plans? How often do we leave God out of the planning?

Satan offered Jesus a quick, easy path to power. He offered to give him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them if Jesus would fall down and worship him.

Matthew 4:8-10:
Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

Again Jesus refused to deviate from God’s plan for him.

God is our provider and our protector. He has a purpose for each of us according to his plan and his timing. How can we know his plan? How did Jesus know his plan? Jesus studied his Word. His responses to Satan were always, “It is written...,” while Adam and Eve’s responses relied on their own reasoning and what seemed good to them.

Another way Jesus always knew God’s plan for him was that Jesus prayed often. He even gave instruction and provided an example that we pray specifically regarding temptation.

Matthew 26:41:
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Matthew 6:13:
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

If Jesus needed to do these things, how much more do we need to pray and study God’s Word!

We can follow Jesus’ examples of obeying God’s plan rather than yielding to temptation because we have him to help us.

Hebrews 4:15:
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

2 Peter 2:9:
The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

We can follow Jesus’ example of obeying God’s plan and not yielding to temptation because God is faithful.

1 Corinthians 10:13-14:
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
14 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

There is a great reward for yielding not to temptation.

James 1:12:
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

The Bible has given us two very clear examples. The events in the Garden of Eden show us how not to respond to temptation. Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness gives us an example of the right way to respond. Through studying God’s Word and praying we can know God’s plan for us, and we can be victorious in the battle against temptation.

Follow Jesus’ example. Study God’s Word. Pray for guidance. Yield not to temptation.



From the September 2006 issue of The Vine & Branches