Overcome Temptation with Scripture
The Roman soldier understood the importance of having a good defense. But to win the battle, a good offense was also needed. For this reason, the Roman soldier’s weapon of choice in close combat was the gladius. This short sword inflicted more damage than the larger swords and was easier for the soldier to handle in battle. In the same way, the Lord has given you a weapon to fight in close combat with the enemy. As Paul writes, you are to “take . . . the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17 NKJV).
Ever since the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, temptation has been the primary means the enemy has used to lead men and women away from God. Regardless of who you are, or how strong you are, or how knowledgeable you are, or how immersed in the Bible and committed to integrity you may be, temptation will affect you. Temptation is attractive—otherwise it wouldn’t be tempting! And it’s dangerous because it’s attractive. For this reason, you have to decide to avoid temptation ahead of time . . . and then enforce that decision with your will.
Of course, the best way to always avoid temptation is to stay away from it. When you know what your weaknesses are and what tempts you to step away from God, it’s critical for you to rigorously stay out of those places and situations. But unfortunately, in spite of all your care and caution, you will still find yourself tempted at some point. It’s a part of life. Just remember that temptation itself is not sin. Yielding to temptation is!
The reality and nature of temptation is why you have to constantly stay on guard against it. It is also why you need to be familiar with using the weapon God has given you to defeat this particular attack of the enemy. As Paul states in Ephesians 6:17, this sword is “the word of God.” The Greek term for word in this verse is rhema, which means “a saying of God.” It refers to a passage from the whole Word of God that has application to an immediate situation. The Bible is not the sword. Rather, it is the armory filled with swords—the sayings of God! From this vast arsenal, you find the specific sayings of God to attack Satan where he is most vulnerable.
The best way to learn how to wield the sword of the Spirit is to look to the Person who used it better than anyone else. When Christ was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, He wielded the sword of the Spirit with the deftness and precision of an invincible warrior (see Matthew 4:1–11). You have the same access to the same Scripture that Jesus did, which means you can have the same success over temptation that He experienced!
Never underestimate the potential of just one sword. The declaration of a phrase or even a word from Scripture contains power you don’t even realize. When you open your Bible, God opens His mouth and shows Himself to you. While resisting Satan in your own strength is futile, you will find that overcoming the devil and his temptations is possible and certain when God is present in your life. This is why it is so critical—so necessary—to have scriptures stored in your memory banks. They are your only consistently effective weapons against your adversary.
To be an Overcomer, set your eyes on Jesus and see Him as the ultimate object behind your deepest desires. In His presence, you have His strength. As you become one with Him and love Him throughout all eternity, you will find temptation no longer has any real power over you.
How do you tend to respond to temptation? When do you most often give in?
How has God shown Himself to you through His Word? How has God used specific verses and passages to give you strength?
What is your battle plan for overcoming temptation the next time it comes your way?