"In the day when I called, You answered me; and You strengthened me with strength (might and inflexibility to temptation) in my inner self."
- Psalm 138:3 AMP
If you have trusted Christ as your personal Savior, you are eternally saved and on your way to heaven. But while you are in this world, you have a formidable enemy named Satan who seeks to destroy your witness for Christ, and keep you from fulfilling your God-given purpose. The Bible says: "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith..." (1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV) I know these verses can sound discouraging in a sense, but I'm asking you to look at the positives in them for a moment. The devil is constantly searching for someone to attack. That means he needs to actively look for believers who are vulnerable. If you and I will "resist him, standing firm in [our] faith," the enemy will have to pass us over, and go look for someone else to harass. How do we acquire this kind of strength against Satan's onslaught?
First, we must pray BEFORE temptation comes our way. Prayer helps to prepare us for satanic attack. It reminds the Lord--and us--that we can't stand against temptation alone, and that we must lean heavily upon God for the victory. Jesus said: "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." (Matthew 26:41 NIV) The Master is warning us to be ever watchful, and ever prayerful. We should purposely avoid people, places, and things that can tempt us in our areas of weakness. When that's not possible, we must pray ahead of time that the Lord will strengthen us, and help us to stand firm. We can use Jesus' own words--"Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." (Matthew 6:13 NIV) And we can pray God's own promises back to Him, trusting Him to keep His Word--"Lord, on the basis of Your Word, I'm asking You to strengthen me, and to protect me from the evil one." (2 Thessalonians 3:3 NIV)
Second, we must rebuke the enemy with the Word of God, just as Jesus did when Satan came to tempt Him in the desert. (Luke 4:1-13) Each time the devil came against the Savior, He answered him with, "It is written," and then quoted Scripture. We have the privilege and responsibility to use the same tactic. That means, of course, that we must have a working knowledge of the Scriptures. We can ask the Lord to help us to study and memorize His Word, and He will do it. You may have trouble remembering where you put your car keys, but in the heat of battle, you will be able to declare Scripture after Scripture, if you plant it in your heart the way God tells us to. (Proverbs 4:20-22) And as the Bible says, "God's Word is an indispensable weapon." (Ephesians 6:17 MSG)
Third, we must call on the Lord for help and deliverance, because as the apostle Peter wrote: "The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation." (2 Peter 2:9 NASB) And He has a plan for our victory. Our flesh may tell us that we can't possibly resist the pressure the enemy is putting on us, but we must not buy into that lie. The truth is stated plainly in 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NASB): "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it." This "way of escape" may be something as simple as casting down wrong thoughts, and replacing them with right ones. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) We have to remember that temptation is a process, and we can interrupt that process with the help of God. Most importantly, we must continually remind ourselves of what Jesus went through on our behalf: "Because He himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted." (Hebrews 2:18 NIV) You have awesome heavenly resources to help you win your battles with temptation through the power of God. Make the most of them--and receive the blessed victories He has in store for you.
Prayer: Lord, I thank You that the devil can't throw anything at me that I can't handle with Your help. Teach me to avoid people, places, and things that aren't Your best for me. Give me a growing passion for Your presence and Your Word, so that I may become strong in spirit. Thank You that in every situation and circumstance, You have a plan for my victory, and I will see it unfold as I follow Your lead.
- J. M. Farro