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The Experience of Intense
Spiritual Temptation


(Matthew 4:1-11 NKJV) Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. {2} And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. {3} Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." {4} But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" {5} Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, {6} and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'" {7} Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God.'" {8} Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. {9} And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me." {10} Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'" {11} Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

1. The term "temptation" is not used in the OT. In its most intense form it is a New Testament experience. It is the direct spirit-to-spirit experience of Satan or a demon. It involves controlling the life-direction of a person. People are "led into temptation, carried away" etc. Temptation is having your now quickened spirit misled by Satan into alternatives that are not of God. . Intense temptation is a spiritual experience that often comes suddenly, seems all-powerful then can leave just as suddenly if properly resisted. It aims to "devour" the believer.

2. Temptation is not sin - it is merely a negative spiritual experience. Jesus was tempted but was without sin. (Hebrews 4:15). Temptation is part of Satan's war on the saints. But God knows how to deliver us from it. (2 Peter 2:9). Intense spiritual temptation of the saints will characterize the last days (2 Thess 2:9, Rev 4:10-12)

3. The Wilderness - Intense spiritual temptation often follows anointing. A person with a vision is "dangerous when bored" their mind wants to "get going" on anything at all. Ministry to stones does not seem significant. The wilderness can cause anointed people to chafe at the bit and invent possibilities that are not of God. That this lack of things to think about and do can get us to consider "offers" that we would not normally look twice at.

4. The wilderness is only for 40 days. Intense temptation is not ever meant to be a daily experience.

5. "If you are the Son of God.." The ego's pride in its identity is often the target.

6. Satan's most intense temptations are in the areas of our legitimate appetites and most righteous agendas. He works on these until they reach an intensity where we are "carried away" by them. (James 1:13-15) in what is often unreal and intoxicating experience. "I don't know what came over me.." On the other hand sometimes we can fall into temptation by denying basic appetites in an effort to be overly spiritual (1 Corinthians 7:5).

7. "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.." Matthew 26:41, James 1:13-15, Romans 7, 1 John 3:9

8. "Those who wish to get rich fall into temptation.." (1 Timothy 6:9) "Man does not live by bread alone.." Money and unrighteous trade proved the destruction of Satan, Sodom and Gomorrah, Tyre, Babylon, Judas and many Christians like Annanias and Sapphira who "pierce themselves with many a pang" (1 Timothy 6: 6-10). There is terrible destruction in some of the so-called Christian get-rich-quick schemes.

9. Intense spiritual temptation is so fierce a problem that it is like being devoured by a roaring lion. (1 Peter 5:8,9) Paul feared its effects on the new community at Thessalonica. It can make the work of God to be "in vain" (1 Thess 3:5) Therefore its more destructive than something that can be quickly patched up with a quick confession to the Almighty.
10. That when we rebuke the Devil he flees from us "Resist the Devil and he will flee from you.." (James 4:7, 1 Peter 5:8,9)) Satan is described as "that fleeing serpent.." (Job 26:13, Is 27;1,2; Jer 46:22)

11. That our main tool for resisting Satan's "alternative pathways" is the Word of God. It tells us what is true and untrue and which alternatives are "no-go" areas.

12. That God does not send temptation - (James 1:13-15) but He allows it (e.g Jesus). God never wants to see us destroyed. He asks us to pray that we NOT be led into temptation. Its not a strengthening or disciplinary exercise like suffering can be - its a test of faithfulness instituted by Satan that God reluctantly allows and desperately wants us to pass. Its not on God's agenda for us. God does not want anyone to be tempted.

13. God provides a way out (1 Cor 10:13) and a High Priest who has been tempted in every way as we have. (Hebrews 2;18, 4:15) and "throne of grace" that we can come to for help in time of need. (Heb 4:12-16)

14. The prayers of friends can be a big help e.g to Jesus in the Garden of Gesthemane. There is no extra virtue in "taking it on the chin alone". God gives us righteous friends precisely for such times and expects us to use His provision.

15. Prayer is a great weapon against temptation because it aligns us with the spirit of holiness and breaks the tantalizing spiritual influence of Satan. "Arise and pray that you may not enter into temptation..."

Verses Containing "Tempt, Tempted, Temptation.." In The NIV

(Matthew 4:1 NIV) Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.
(Matthew 4:3 NIV) The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."
(Matthew 6:13 NIV) And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'
(Matthew 26:41 NIV) "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."

(Mark 1:13 NIV) and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
(Mark 14:38 NIV) Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."
(Luke 4:2 NIV) where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
(Luke 4:13 NIV) When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
(Luke 11:4 NIV) Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.'"
(Luke 22:40 NIV) On reaching the place, he said to them, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation."
(Luke 22:46 NIV) "Why are you sleeping?" he asked them. "Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation."

(1 Corinthians 7:5 NIV) Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
(1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV) No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

(Galatians 6:1 NIV) Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.
(1 Thessalonians 3:5 NIV) For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless.
(1 Timothy 6:9 NIV) People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.

(Hebrews 2:18 NIV) Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
(Hebrews 4:15 NIV) For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin.
(James 1:13-14 NIV) When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; {14} but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.

 

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