Unmasking Satan’s “Schemes”

Everybody has been tempted, but do we know what is at stake? What is Satan trying to accomplish by tempting us? In 1 John 2 the apostle John explains three levels of maturity. For the new believer he explains that the sins of “little children” are forgiven. In other words they have overcome the penalty of sin. Mature “fathers” of the faith have a deep knowledge and reverence for God. “I write to you ‘young men,’ because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of God is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the boastful pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world” (2:14-16). “Young men” know God’s word and have overcome the power of sin.

In this passage we again see the three enemies of our sanctification operating together, namely the world, the flesh, and the devil. Every Christian knows we live in a fallen world, and we all struggle to overcome our flesh. What is often overlooked is how the evil one, who is the god of this world, appeals to our flesh through three channels of temptation. The tendency is to see the channel and not see the tempter. Satan used those three channels to tempt Eve and the same three channels to tempt Jesus. This is critical to understand if we want to overcome temptation. If you see only the channel, you will berate yourself and probably yield to the temptation. If you are the only player, you will take the fall.

Last week I explained that modern translations vary on the Greek word noema (schemes & designs [2 Cor. 2:11], thought [2 Cor. 10:5], mind [2 Cor. 11:3]). The reason we need to take every thought (noema) captive to the obedience of Christ is because all temptations begins with a thought. Your natural senses will pick up sights, sounds, tastes, and smells from this fallen world. That information is sent to your brain, which your mind interprets and now you have a choice. You can walk by the Spirit or walk by the flesh. To win this battle, we need to practice threshold thinking. If we let our minds go down the wrong path, it will set off all kinds of physiological responses resulting in sin. Recall also that our motions are primarily a product of our thought life. The moment we detect a tempting thought, we need to choose God’s way of escaping Satan’s snares. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure” (1 Cor. 10:13). What is the way of escape?

Dr. Neil

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