This post is part of the #RealWomenPray online Bible study series: “Fervent: A Woman’s Battle Plan for Serious, Specific, Strategic Prayer” by Priscilla Shirer.
“If I were your enemy I’d wear you down. Because if I can’t separate you from God forever,
I can at least set you at odds with Him for the time being.” Priscilla Shirer, Fervent
Temptation doesn’t usually come when we are on a “spiritual high”. No, the enemy waits for the precise right moment —when we are tired, exhausted, distracted and worn down—then he slyly slithers in, with the most precise, personalized temptation wrapped in a beautiful, shiny, deceitful package.
Jesus Was Tempted
Jesus was led into a desert place by the Holy Spirit for the express purpose of being tempted by satan.
Why? Maybe so Jesus could experience and know what we, His children, go through so that He could sympathize in our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15). Maybe so He could show us the way of obedience through our suffering (Hebrews 5:8). There are a large number of reasons and theories that can be found with one online search. I don’t have all the answers, so I can’t give you a definitive answer, but what I do know is that God, in all His sovereignty, allowed His own Son to experience the schemes of the enemy.
Let’s look at 3 tactics the enemy deployed against Jesus
(and he uses them on us, too)
Jesus had just experienced a “spiritual high” in the verses right before our text. Satan waited—for 40 days and 40 nights—until Jesus was worn down, tired, weak, and hungry. Temptations don’t always come at us when we are standing strong, experiencing a ‘spiritual high”, they don’t come when we expect they will, sometimes there is a waiting the enemy employs until just the right moment when he knows we are at our weakest.
2: Precise, Personalized Temptations
Satan tempted Jesus with things that were attractive and appealing in the moment of weakness; things that would cause maximum impact. He will use our exposed weaknesses to persuade us to do things that we normally, under routine circumstances, would not consider as an option.
Satan didn’t let up after only one try at tempting Jesus. He tried multiple times and various areas to appeal to the ‘mankind’ parts of Jesus. Just like with Jesus, the enemy will continue his attempt at chipping away at our resolve and tenacity in the hopes of wearing us down until we finally give in.
OUR BIGGEST STRATEGY AGAINST THE ENEMY IS
GOD’S WORD AND PRAYER
Jesus shows us in the these verses the way in which we can fight temptation—God’s Word and prayer.
Jesus spent 40 days and nights in fasting and prayer. He made sure He had a direct connection with God, a daily communication with Him. Jesus was focused, passionate, and fervent in His prayers as indicated by the fact that He was fasting.
Fasting isn’t required for God to hear our prayers, but there may be times in which He calls us to sacrifice things in our life to spend some intense, dedicated time with Him. This was certainly the case with Jesus in the desert.
But because Jesus was in His “prayer room,” He was well equipped and prepared when the attacks came.
Jesus showed us THE weapon to defeat the enemy is HIS WORD. There is no other way. God’s Word is the final authority on all matters—truth in all situations. If we stand a chance at resisting temptation and fight the enemy, it will only be because we use God’s Word.
The only way to know God’s Word is to spend time reading His Word.There are no shortcuts, magic pills, or gizmos that will implant the Word into our heart, mind and spirit without effort on our part.
This is a relationship. If we don’t spend time investing in it, there won’t be much to stand on when times get tough.
Finally, we must remember when we are being bombarded with attacks and temptations where it is all coming from—and where it leads.
We must remember the consequences we have experienced in our past when we gave in to these same invitations to detour briefly from our right path.
”The waves of your choice will ripple outward into your heart, mind, soul, and body, possibly even to the future generations…sin has consequences.” Priscilla Shirer, Fervent
Sin has consequences. We don’t like that part. We want everything to be a fairy-tale ending. We don’t want anything that can be perceived as “unfair”. But sin always has consequences, even when it has been forgiven.
Sometimes those consequences are immediate, other times they come much later. There can even be repercussions that are not from our own mistakes, but can be the result of someone else’s sin.
We even live in a world where bad things happen because of the result of sin committed by someone else—Adam and Eve.
”The ripple effect of sin always affect [our] connection with the Father.”(Fervent, page 122)
At the very least, our sin causes a disconnection between us and God.
The enemy is hoping we will lose that connection with God because sin lessens the effectiveness of our prayers. They become powerless, lacking passion and focus.
If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear. Psalm 66:18
God will not hear our prayers when there is a disconnection between us and Him. It isn’t that God doesn’t actually “hear” our prayer, but that He is unable to turn toward us because sin hides His face from us. (Isaiah 59:1-2)
”Prayers that have power come from a person in pursuit of righteous living. Yes, righteousness matters.” (page 123)
Satan wants us to believe that living a right and just life doesn’t matter. He wants us to be narrow-focused on only ourselves. But, if we were consistent in prayer–fervent prayer–activating God’s Word in our lives, we would know the truth—righteousness matters—and be fully armed against his lies.
Righteous living matters because it:
* Protects our hearts
* Fills us with power
* Frees us to bless others
* Allows us to receive His goodness
Righteous living won’t come without a committed, consistent life of prayer.
*What do you think the three areas (bread, jumping from the temple, kingdoms of the world) in which satan tempted Jesus represent?
*How do you think that applies to us today?
*What is the hardest part of righteous living for you?
*Since prayer and God’s word are vital to our righteous living, what are ways you can incorporate this as part of your daily routine?
When it comes to the concept of “bad things happen to good people” there are various opinions that get expressed.
Some believe that if someone is experiencing a trial or hard time they are being punished for unforgiven sin in their life.
Others tend to think it is “unfair” when a family experiences something “bad, ” especially the death of a loved one to disease. They think that if God is really God, then why didn’t He stop it/fix it/heal it.
Some people tend to believe the devil is the cause of every bad thing that happens.
Yet, others believe that we live in a sinful world and bad things will happen and not every problem is an attack from the enemy.
And there are many other variations and combinations of these thoughts.
In light of our study material–sin always has a consequence–whether it is personal sin, sin someone else committed, or the fact that we live in a sinful world because of original sin, what are your thoughts on “when bad things happen to good people”?
Let’s Chat: Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Call to Prayer
Today, let’s pour out our hearts before God, admitting to Him where we struggle. He already knows, the enemy already knows, and deep down we know. Let’s call them out of the secret hiding places of our hearts, bring them into His light and ask for Him to show us His truth, His Word, about our struggles and temptations.
This isn’t our battle to fight alone. God gives us His Word to release into the spirit realm to fight for us. Let’s make a commitment to consistent prayer in our every day routine.
Write out your prayer using one of the suggested scriptures in the book or choose another scripture that speaks to you. Use the P.R.A.Y. points on pages 21-22 to help you write personal, specific prayers.
Father, I praise You for looking into our futures and knowing we would need a way to bridge the disconnection we have with You because of sin. Thank You for Jesus. Thank You for showing us the way to resist temptation. Forgive us, Lord, when we have not turned from things that would draw us away from You. Forgive us for entertaining situations that were not glorifying to Your name. Jesus, help us to resist the urge to listen to the lies of the enemy when he tells us there is a better way than righteous living. Jesus, help us to know Your word, to commit to time with Your word each and every day. Lord, I pray that as we are obedient You will be faithful to reveal Yourself in the scriptures. Show us meaning and understanding when we read. Lord, I thank You that we already have victory when the next battle comes because You are our strength and You fight for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.