“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
Have you ever heard of the “sixth sense?” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as: A power of perception like – but not one of – the five senses; a keen intuitive power. Some people take the idea of a “sixth sense” to the extreme, claiming to be able to read minds, communicate with spirits, or foretell the future. Wouldn’t it be nice if a sixth sense really did exist for avoiding sin? What if we could see into the future, identify temptation, and completely avoid it?
While such a sixth sense to completely avoid all temptation does not exist, Jesus does show us how to detect temptation in many situations before it happens. Satan tempted Jesus in three different ways; and it is the same way he tempts us. Understanding these three areas of temptation will help us to develop sharp intuition in our lives so that we can be ready when we are tempted to avoid falling into the trap of the Devil.
First, temptation will appeal to our physical side. Satan tempted Jesus right after He finished a 40-day fast and was ravished. Satan tempts Jesus to break His fast by turning stones into bread and eating – something Jesus could easily have done. But He was fasting under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. We live in a, “If it feels good, do it” world. That is exactly the temptation Satan gave Jesus – to separate the physical from the spiritual and fulfill His desires in His own way. It is important to understand that there is nothing wrong with physical desires. What is sin is when you fulfill those desires in your own way.
Second, temptation will appeal to our emotional side. When he can’t get Jesus to follow His physical desires, Satan tries to appeal to how good it would feel to be worshiped in the way He deserves. Satan knows Jesus’ rightful place is one of honor, and here He is in the desert hungry, dirty, and tired. He capitalizes on how Jesus must be feeling and goes in for the kill, trying to get Him to show the world who He really is. The first leader we ever follow in life is our feelings. But we must remember – emotions are meant to be felt; but they are never meant to be followed.
Lastly, temptation will appeal to our spiritual side. When Satan offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, he was tempting Him in a subtle, but powerful way. He offered Jesus exactly the same kingdoms as His Father was going to offer Him – but he was giving Jesus a short cut. “Skip the cross,” Satan tempted. Satan is the master of short cuts. He tempts us to give some, but not all…to listen to podcasts rather than read our Bible…to talk about God but not to God…and the list goes on.
Learning to detect temptation is a powerful weapon against the schemes of Satan. We have been given a “sixth sense” – the Holy Spirit – who can warn us of what lies ahead. Just remember, Satan will always appeal to one of three areas in your life – the physical, the emotional, or the spiritual – so be ready to detect it.
God, thank you for the Holy Spirit, who is my greatest power in detecting temptation. Help me to be aware in these three areas of temptation so that I can be ready to resist the Devil, just like Jesus did. In Jesus’ name, Amen.