Dealing With Temptation: Like Jesus or Eve?

Both Eve (in the Old Testament) and Jesus (in the New Testament) were tempted by Satan. The temptations were different, but Eve could have handled the temptation in the same way Christ did. However, she did not and the results were drastically different.

Eve’s Temptation

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Genesis 3:1-6

Jesus’ Temptation

And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

—Matthew 4:3-11

How They Handled the Temptation

Let’s look at the way Jesus handled the temptation first. It gives us insight as to how the temptation should be handled in the first place.

Jesus’ Response

Jesus responded to the temptation by quoting God’s Word. Jesus knew what God had said on the subject. Of course He did, He is God. The beautiful thing is that He relied on God’s written Word–not just on what He and God privately knew. Jesus responded by quoting the revealed Word of God. He responded in exactly the same way we can to temptation.

During the first temptation Jesus responded using Deuteronomy 8:3. The second ruse of the Devil is that he tried to trick Jesus with verses from the Bible (Psalm 91:11,12). Knowing that Satan was misquoting and misusing God’s Word, Jesus responded by quoting Deuteronomy 6:16. During the third temptation Jesus quoted other verses from Deuteronomy (6:13,14).

Eve’s Response

The first thing Satan said to Eve was, “Did God really say that you can’t eat from every tree?” Eve responded by misquoting what God said. She was unsure of God’s Words. She said, “We can’t eat from one of the trees. We can’t even touch it! If we do, we will die.” Is that what God said? No. Her uncertainty about the absolute Word of God caused her to begin to have doubts about the truth of God’s Word.

Satan responded by mocking what God had said. Yes, God did say they would die. But now that Eve was faltering on whether God really said what she thought He had said, she was on shaky ground to know the truth. She was powerless to confront Satan because she had already started to believe a lie.

Your Response to Temptation

Jesus responded by quoting the Bible back to the tempter with authority. Jesus had absolute confidence in the Word of God and knew it perfectly. Eve was unsure about what God really said. As a result she caved to the temptation.

How well do you know God’s Word? Many times people believe lies about the Bible their whole life. They assume that something they heard in Sunday School class as a kid was true. Maybe it was taught in a simplistic manner and lost some of the details. Maybe the teacher didn’t really know what the Bible was saying. More likely than not, if the last time you actually studied the Bible was in a Sunday School class as an 8 year old, then you have probably jumbled up a few things in your own mind.

Take time to find out what the Bible really says. Study God’s Word, don’t accept everything you hear from others about the Bible. Find out for yourself it it is true.

All Temptation is Common, Controlled and Conquerable

I am often amazed at how God works in the lives of some people. They may have been heavily involved in certain sins before their salvation. But the day they got saved God took that sin out of their lives and they had victory over it immediately. When talking with them they say that they are no longer tempted by that old habit. It is amazing to see God’s power in their lives over sin.

However, we know that God does not always work that way. In fact, many of us struggle constantly with besetting sins. It seems like if we could just get victory over that sin then we would never have any problems.

Why doesn’t God work the same way in everyone’s life? When talking to those who do get immediate victory it seems like they think everyone gets the same type of victory “if they are truly saved.” Do they think I am not saved because God didn’t work the same way in my life as He did in theirs? While they would probably say “no” to that question, I have seen some who act as if that is the way they believe. God’s great grace can become a source of pride in their Christian walk.

Certainly not everyone who has had immediate victory over a sin act this way. Many give great praise and honor to God because they know God has worked in a special way in their life.

Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

—1 Corinthians 10:12, 13

This morning the pastor in church was dealing with 1 Corinthians 10:1-14. He pointed out three great truths that we can draw from verse 13.

Common

First is that temptation is common. Your case is not unique. While we may not all be tempted in the exact same way, we all endure temptation. We must fight the sinful thought of, “God, I know what Your Word says, but my situation is special.” No, we need to simply trust God and obey Him. This great truth helps erase self-pity. God doesn’t hate you. God is not putting you through something you cannot overcome with His help. He is there right beside you.

Controlled

The second truth is that temptation is controlled. God is faithful. He will be with you through the temptation. He knows what you are going through and His goal is to bring you through it in holiness. The Bible says multiple times to be holy because God is holy. He wants us to become more like Him. He is with us each step of the way to bring out holiness in us. This truth erases our fears. Temptation itself can inspire fear, but we don’t have to be afraid because a faithful God is with us according to this verse.

Conquerable

Finally, temptation is conquerable. By His grace we have the power to overcome the temptation. Not in our own power, but through the power of Christ (Philippians 4:13). He has provided a way of escape. We don’t always see that way of escape. We begin to feel hopeless. However, when we remember a faithful God has promised to provide a way out of the temptation and testing, then this truth erases our doubts.

We should be grateful to God for the way He has worked in our lives. Whether that is an immediate conquering of sin, or a slow process of sanctification we should be thankful. Don’t take pride in the grace God has given you. Nor should you feel defeated if you don’t get that immediate victory. Remember that a faithful God knows everything that is going on in your life today.

[Adapted from a message by David Cross at Faith Baptist Church in Jefferson City, TN.]