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Temptation in the Bible

QUESTION: Temptation in the Bible - How did biblical people respond?


When we are faced with temptation, we can look at temptation in the Bible and learn from the examples of biblical characters. We can learn from those who responded incorrectly and those to found victory.

First, we will study those who did not respond well to temptation. The most famous of all is Eve when she was lured by Satan to eat the forbidden fruit. Genesis 3:6 says, "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it." Because Eve yielded to temptation and shared the forbidden fruit with her husband, they were thrown out of the Garden of Eden and our struggle with sin began.

Women were a tempting lure to men such as King David. We read that he saw the bathing beauty, Bathsheba, and committed adultery. Then in an attempt to cover his sin, David connived to have Bathsheba's husband killed (2 Samuel 11). David did not respond well to sexual temptation however, he was eventually convicted of his sin and did repent (see Psalm 51).

Samson was lured by the deceiving Delilah (Judges 16) and the deception led to his death.

Money has frequently been a temptation in the Bible. Notice the man, Achan in Joshua 7:21, "When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath." Later, Achan was stoned for his sin.

Fortunately we have several examples of biblical characters who responded correctly to temptation in the Bible. There are examples of people who were not lured in by the temptation of money. Abraham refused to accept a reward for service to King Of Sodom after a battle in Genesis 14:22-24, "But Abram said to the king of Sodom, 'I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, "I made Abram rich." I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me - to Aner, Eshcol and Mamre. Let them have their share."

The prophet Elisha refused payment when he performed a miraculous healing in 2 Kings 5:16: "The prophet answered, 'As surely as the LORD lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.' And even though Naaman urged him, he refused."

Peter also refused a bribe in Acts 8:20: "Peter answered: 'May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!'"

The best and most important biblical character to study in response to temptation is Jesus Christ. Three of the four gospels talk about Jesus' experiences with Satan in the desert. Luke 4:5-8 describes it this way: "The devil led him [Jesus] up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, 'I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.' Jesus answered, 'It is written: "Worship the Lord your God and serve him only."'"

Jesus became man and lived as a perfect example to us. Hebrews 2:18 says, "Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted."

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