Testing and Temptation

Study 7. What's the Trouble?


1) When a person becomes a Christian, the Holy Spirit comes to indwell (live within) him. What is one thing that the Spirit of God does (John 15:26 and 16:14)?

2) What purpose does God have for the believer that the Holy Spirit helps him to accomplish (Galatians 4:19, compare Ephesians 4:13)?

INSIGHT: Some think if you become a Christian your life will be perfect--or that the Christian is claiming some kind of perfect behaviour. That any fault or sin they observe in him means he is a hypocrite. However, as an earlier study showed, it is important to recognize the distinction between the Christian's standing and his state. Christians are perfected forever in Christ, as to their legal standing before God. That standing is based on Christ's righteousness, not their own. But these individuals are not yet fully conformed to the likeness of Christ in their state. While they should expect growth toward spiritual maturity, they are not yet perfect, and do at times stumble and fall.

3) What does the Bible say to about the person who claims to be perfectly sinless (I John 1:8)?

4) What warning is given to Christians who claim they would never fall into sin (I Corinthians 10:12)?

INSIGHT: Though the Christian desires to honour and obey God, at times he can fail to do so. But when a Christian sins, he does not lose his salvation. Sin in a Christian's life does not cancel his relationship with God, any more than the misbehaviour of a child removes him from the family.

However, sin does hinder fellowship with God. It deprives the believer of joy and contentment, and robs him of spiritual strength. Further, there is a danger that in this spiritually weakened condition the individual will sin again, and be even further out of touch with God.

INSIGHT: The child of God is the temple of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19). And He is "Holy"--pure and without any taint of sin's corruption. For that reason He is saddened when sin enters the Christian's life. Believers are exhorted not to "grieve" Him in this way (Ephesians 4:30), but it does sometimes happen.

5) What means does the Holy Spirit use to reprove and correct the Christian when he sins (II Timothy 3:16-17)?

INSIGHT: The Lord can also work through circumstances (sometimes called the reproofs of life) to show the individual the destructive path he is on. And just as a parent does with a child, his heavenly Father will "chasten" or discipline him. This can be a painful experience, but it is a necessary process if spiritual growth is to continue.

6) Far from being a sign that God doesn't care about him, what does the Lord's chastening of a sinning Christian show (Hebrews 12:5-7)?

7) What is the end result God is looking for (Hebrews 12:11)?

INSIGHT: As we consider the subject of temptation to sin, it is important to realize that temptation itself is not sin. It is when an individual yields to temptation that he sins.

8) Where does the temptation to sin not come from (James 1:13)?

INSIGHT: Temptation to sin comes from three main sources.

9) What is one source of temptation (James 1:14-15; compare Mark 7:20-23)?

INSIGHT: Even though the Holy Spirit dwells within the Christian, he still has his old sin nature to contend with, sometimes called "the flesh." (In this case it is not the physical body that is meant, but the person's spiritually corrupt nature.)

The Bible tells us "the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another" (Galatians 5:17). But Christians can have victory over the flesh as they walk in the power of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16).

10) What is one important way the Christian can be strengthened to have victory in temptation (Psalm 119:11)?

INSIGHT: The value of meditation on God's Word to prepare for times of temptation is expressed by the following little poem: "Two natures strive within my breast; / The one is cursed, the other blessed. / The one I love, the one I hate. / The one I feed will dominate." Our study of God's Word, and our meditation on its truths, feeds our souls, helping to equip us to face temptation.

11) What is another source of danger in the Christian life (I Pet. 5:8)?

INSIGHT: There are two extremes to avoid, when it comes to dealing with Satan (also called the devil, or the serpent, Revelation 12:9). One is to think he is only a make-believe character in a red suit, with horns and a pointy tail. The other is to become obsessed with demonic activity and blame the devil whenever problems arise. Neither approach is the right one.

12) What does the Lord teach about the character of Satan (John 8:44)?

13) How is the Christian to deal with Satan's attacks (I Pet. 5:9)?

14) If we are to resist the devil in "faith," faith in what? (To see the answer, read how the Lord Jesus defeated Satan in Matthew 4:1-11.)

15) What is a third source of temptation for the Christian (I John 2:15-16)?

INSIGHT: Just as the "flesh" is used sometimes in the New Testament to represent a spiritual reality, so is the word "world." In the Bible, the term often pictures this evil world system, dominated by Satan and blind to spiritual truth (Ephesians 2:2-3). It may be cultured, scientifically advanced, and even religious, but the spirit of the unsaved world is habitually opposed to God and His people. And the world offers pleasures that tempt the believer to forsake spiritual values and holy living.

16) What is the opposite to yielding to the attractions of the world (I John 2:17)?

17) Is it possible to pursue the sinful pleasures of the world and live close to God at the same time (James 4:4)? Why?

INSIGHT: Some characteristics of temptation can be seen in the first temptation of human beings, back at the beginning of human history. Please read Genesis 3:1-6, and answer the following questions on the passage.

(NOTE: Satan is a spirit being, and therefore invisible. But he is able to take on physical form, as he does here, appearing in the form of a serpent.)

18) How does Satan treat God's Word in verse 1? And in verse 4?

19) Is there a difference between God's original command and what Eve tells Satan (Genesis 2:17 and 3:3)? What seems to be happening here?

20) How does Eve try to talk herself into disobeying God (verse 6)? And what is wrong with her arguments?

INSIGHT: Consider some of the effects of sin in the lives of Adam and Eve. Similar results can often be found today when an individual sins.

21) What is one effect (Genesis 3:7; compare 2:25)?

INSIGHT: Some might view this as a rather insignificant thing today. In some circles nudity and semi-nudity are common and even applauded. But at this early time, a sudden awareness of it indicated a profound inward change. There was an awakened sense of guilt and shame in Adam and Eve that produced a desire for concealment.

21b) How else did this condition show itself (Genesis 3:8-10)?

21c) Another common effect of doing wrong is illustrated in Genesis 3:11-13. What is it?

22) What limitation does God put upon the temptations Christians face (I Corinthians 10:13)?

INSIGHT: "The way to escape" is there, if the believer is willing to take it. But sometimes he foolishly plays with fire, and exposes himself to temptation more than is wise or necessary. The Bible says, "Make no provision for the flesh to fulfil its lusts" (Romans 13:14). It means: Stop putting yourself in harm's way.

23) What is a course of action that will sometimes help the believer in time of temptation (I Timothy 6:9-11; and II Timothy 2:22)?

24) If the Christian does sin in time of temptation, what should he do (I John 1:9)?

INSIGHT: The word "confession" means agreement. When a Christian confesses his sins to God he is taking God's point of view about them, and agreeing that they are wrong, and have no place in his life. For his own spiritual welfare, this needs to happen as soon as he becomes aware of sin in his life.

25) And what promise does the Lord give him when he does what is required (I John 1:9)?

26) If one is a committed follower of the Lord, resisting the need to confess and forsake sin will not be a pleasant experience! How did David feel when this happened to him (Psalm 32:3-5)?

27) How do we know the Lord understands the temptations Christians face (Hebrews 4:14-15)?

28) What help is available in times of temptation (Hebrews 4:16)?