This series is dedicated to a Man of God who is after God’s own heart. My Pastor, Elder William Eakins, II wrote a book titled Conversations with the Devil and in this book, he goes into great detail about the different strategies and tactics that the devil uses to wreak havoc in our lives. The Bible tells us in John 10:10 that the devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy. That is his job, but Pastor Eakins exposes how the devil plans to do that in his book. Being a student of the Word under the guidance of this Man of God, I am blessed to learn how to navigate this world and maintain my righteous walk with the Lord.
This is part 3 of an 8-part series about the different conversations we have with the devil on a regular basis. Part 3 is based on the scripture Luke 4:1-13 and it deals with temptation. In case you don’t know what it means to be tempted, or for someone to tempt you, Pastor Eakins gives a definition in his book. “To tempt means to entice or allure to do something that is regarded as unwise, wrong, or immoral.” I am tempted every time I go to the grocery store with all of the goodness in the bakery and candy aisles! Not sure if that is the devil or my flesh tempting me, but I can usually shut it down fairly quickly by going to a different aisle. I just need to make sure I am not hungry when I go to the store because then it becomes more challenging to walk away! While that is a legitimate concern, I digress. Let’s get back to learning about the tempting conversations of the devil.
Has the devil ever tempted you? He has surely tempted me many times. The devil even tempted Jesus, so I KNOW the devil has tempted you at least once in your lifetime! If he hasn’t yet, just wait for it because it is coming!
In his book, Pastor Eakins uses an analogy of fishing where bait is cast into the water using a fishing pole, and the fisherman tempts the fish by moving the bait along the water, so the bait appears to be alive. This can be a worm, a smaller fish, or anything the fish like to eat, which depends on what type of fish the fisherman is trying to catch. Isn’t that just like the devil trying to catch us like fish? In my opinion, I believe he is mocking the statement Jesus made where he told the disciples he will make them “fishers of men,” meaning He will teach them to catch humans for the kingdom instead of just catching fish to eat. Maybe I will cover that in another message. For now, let’s get back to the fish story and how temptation comes into play.
As the fish story implies, not everyone is tempted by the same thing. Many fish who come in contact with the bait will just pass it by, but there will be one fish that takes the bait and finds himself falling for the trap, “hook, line, and sinker.” This goes back to the definition I shared earlier. Obviously, this temptation did not end well for the fish! This story also speaks to HOW we are tempted. Some people are tempted by shiny objects, pretty colors, or things that will fill and emptiness they are feeling on the inside, just to name a few. What sort of things are YOU tempted by? That emptiness on the inside could be from hunger, or it could go a bit deeper and reference a loss that one has suffered. Whatever the case may be, temptation can happen to anyone for a number of reasons.
The devil will tempt you when you are at your lowest point. That is what he did to Jesus. Did you read the scripture I mentioned? Jesus was alone in the wilderness and did not eat anything for 40 days. It says the devil was tempting him for those 40 days. I know some of us could not handle being tempted for 40 minutes! However, it also says Jesus was full of the Holy Ghost. That right there is a game changer! When you are filled with the Spirit of God and you allow it to rest, rule, and abide within you, temptation will not be so overwhelming. The best part of it is that Jesus used scripture to defeat the devil, and he used scriptures that came from just one book in the bible, Deuteronomy, and just 2 chapters in that book, chapters 6 and 8. That tells us that you don’t have to know the whole bible to defeat the devil.
Let’s look at the end goal the devil has in mind when he uses temptation. In his book, Pastor Eakins tells us that the devil is attacking our “identity” when he tries to tempt us. Think about it. Identity is who we are. It “defines the rights, privileges, and boundaries” that we have. When we get our identity from God, the devil wants to take it away by tempting us with things that make us forget who we are. For example, you have a teenager who enters high school as an honor roll student with big dreams for the future. The devil starts to tempt her with popularity because she wants to make a good impression and not be seen as a nerd who makes good grades. However, he sends peers who mean her no good. They tell her different things she should be doing to be in their popular group. Before she realizes her mistake, her grades start to drop as she loses her academic edge. She has lost her identity and struggles to get it back. If she can remember her identity that came from God, she will be ok, and the devil will lose once again. However, the devil will not stop there. Just like how he attacked Jesus in 3 different areas of identity, he will do the same to us.
In his book, Pastor Eakins mentions the following 3 areas of attack from the devil: “ability, material, and status.” In “ability-based identities,” the devil tries to tempt us with “self-empowerment,” where we depend on ourselves instead of depending on God. The devil wants us to think that we don’t need God to accomplish tasks, even though God is our source of everything. Acts 17:28 tells us that it is “in Him that we live, move, and have our being.” We cannot do anything without God’s grace and mercy allowing us to do it. That is who we are, and the devil wants us to forget that.
The book continues with “material-based identities” that are rooted in greed, and fear of losing what they have, or not having enough. The flesh is never satisfied. That is why we need to kill our flesh daily and live by the contentment that is found in God. When we can be content with whatever God has blessed us with, the devil cannot tempt us with material things. God tells us that His grace is sufficient, but the devil wants us to think it is not enough. I find it fascinating myself because even if we think we don’t have enough, we need to go to God for more because he owns everything. So, while the devil is trying to play us, he is actually playing us right into the hands of God, who is ready to redeem us when we turn our thoughts towards Him.
Lastly, the book mentions “status-based identities,” which is the trap that the honor-roll high school student fell into in the example I gave. If we get our identity from the position that we hold, the devil can easily wreak havoc in our lives by simply attacking where we are. This is when the whole armor of God can help us stand in the position where God has placed us, as long as we do not become arrogant when we reach a certain position. Remember that you did not get there by your own doing. God placed you there and you need to equip yourself with His armor so that you stay there. Otherwise, the devil will have little trouble knocking you out of your position.
In his book, Pastor Eakins offers three ways to fight the temptations from the devil. The first way is by practicing your “dependence” on God. Surrender your will to God every day and seek to live by His will and not your own. Besides, His will is what is best for us. The second way is by practicing your “service” to God. Jesus gave us demonstrations on being a servant of His Father. We need to follow his examples and be servants to God as well. As long as we are not focused on ourselves, the devil will have to work that much harder to tempt us. The third way to fight temptation from the devil is by practicing “graciousness.” We must always remember who we are and recognize that God is the one in control. He made us. We did not make ourselves. We are nothing without Him. He gives us our identity and makes us who we are. As long as we can keep that perspective, there is nothing the devil can use to tempt us.