Lacking any real power to hurt you, Satan seeks to influence you so you will eventually succumb to his pressure and choose things which will themselves trigger your downfall. Just as Adam surrendered dominion of the world to Satan in the Garden, so we often do the same thing in certain areas of our lives until we eventually find ourselves under his bondage once more.
1. Resisting the Tempter
Every Christian faces temptation. Although the nature and intensity of the temptation may vary, there will never be a time in your life as a believer that you will be above temptation. Temptation is Satan’s first line of attack. It is where he most viciously attacks new believers, and it is where he most consistently confronts mature believers.
The three areas in which Satan always tempts us are the lust of the flesh (sins of the body), the lust of the eyes (coveting those things that appeal to your eyes), and the boastful pride of life (strife, vain glory, and carnal, selfish ambition) (1 John 2:16). Almost all leaders who fall into sin do so because, Satan tempts them in one or more of these three categories.
Satan’s chief ally is your own sinful, fleshly nature. James tells us “each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death” (James 1:14,15).
On one hand we are told that Satan tempts us, and on the other our own lust entices us and carries us away. But there is no inconsistency here. Both are true. Satan is the tempter, but unless we responded to his seductions, we would not fall. This is because he comes to us through our own fleshly lusts.
A helpful way to understand this is to consider the principle of sympathetic vibration. I recently read an interesting analogy that well illustrates this idea: Take the piano. If you open the lid, hold down the loud pedal and sing a loud note into the piano, you will hear the string that corresponds to the note you sang vibrate in sympathy with your voice. By slamming down the lid and taking your foot off the pedal, you will prevent this from happening.
Our sinful nature was the means by which Satan controlled our lives before we were saved. Although we now are a part of God’s kingdom, our flesh nature still vibrates in sympathy with Satan’s voice. The only way to prevent this is to turn a deaf ear to Satan’s alluring voice. Paul puts it this way: “Don’t think about how to gratify the desires of your sinful nature” (Rom. 13:14). He also tells us to continually put to death the deeds of the body (Rom 6; 8:13; Col. 3:5).
When Satan tempts you, he crawls up from behind. His device is to talk to you so it’s hard for you to tell whether you are thinking your own thoughts, or thoughts he projects into your mind. He knows you think you should resist temptation and “be strong.” So he keeps you looking at the thing with which he is tempting you. The more you try to resist it, the more easily you will be overcome by it. This is because you say, “I will not! I will not! I will not!” and the “I will” principle takes over. Being motivated by the seat of the “I will,” your sinful nature, you will most likely yield to the temptation.