The Tempter

And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
~ Matthew 4:3

Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
~ Matthew 26:41

And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.
~ Deuteronomy 8:2

Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:
~ Proverbs 30:8

And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.
~ Luke 22:40

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 10:13

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
~ 1 Peter 5:8

For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.
~ 1 Thessalonians 3:5

The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:
~ 2 Peter 2:9

Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
~ Revelation 3:10

Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
~ Revelation 2:10

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
~ James 1:2-3

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
~ James 1:12

How the Devil Tempts, by Thomas Manton.

And lead us not into temptation.
—Matthew 6:13a

There are temptations from Satan…who is called the tempter (Mat 4:3). Now, the devil’s temptations are evil and for evil. How doth the devil tempt?

(1) By propounding objects: He “shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time” (Luk 4:5). He had nothing to work upon within, therefore he propounds outward objects. So, the devil still tempts us with a curious eye to take in the object that it may be a bait and snare to the soul. Achan takes notice of it himself: “When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment…and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them” (Jos 7:21). I saw, I coveted, and I took: the eye awakens desire, and desire that inclines to practice. So, “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright” (Pro 23:31). Unless we shut the windows of the soul, this pestilent plague gets in by the senses! The heart is corrupted by objects that we take in by the senses, as it corrupted Eve. (It) dealt with her first by the sense: the forbidden fruit was full in her way, then the devil sets upon her.

(2) He tempts by the persuasion of instruments, who are the devil’s spokesmen. Thus was Joseph tempted by the enticements and blandishments of his mistress (Gen 39:7). And many times, the devil sets nearest friends and relations to weaken their zeal and withdraw their hearts from God: Saith Christ to Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan” (Mat 16:23). It was Peter (who) said it; yet Christ rebuked Satan, for the devil had a hand in it. He makes one of Christ’s disciples his instrument.

(3) He doth it by internal suggestion. “And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel” (1Ch 21:1), that is, by internal suggestion. The devil “put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him” (Joh 13:2). He haunts and pesters the hearts of men by vain thoughts and carnal imaginations. So “the god of this world” is said to blind their minds (2Co 4:4).

(4) By stirring up the (inclinations) of our body. When he seeth men inclined to wrath and angry motions or lust, the devil joins and makes the tempest the more violent. He knows what use to make of an angry look, a wanton glance. He knows how to tempt by awakening the inclinations of our own body against us.

Take some observations here: (1) In all sins Satan joineth. He is not idle but makes use of every inclination of ours. As he sees the tree leaning, he joins issue. But some sins are purely of his suggestion—horrid sins and such as are so very evil that they could come from no other but from the devil. Such sins could not be acted by man in an ordinary course of sinning. (For example,) Judas’ treason: though he were devil enough to plot such a thing, yet it is said (that) Satan put it into his heart (Joh 13:2). And such singular diabolical suggestions may be darted into the bosom of believers sometimes—thoughts of atheism, blasphemy, unnatural sins, self-murder, suspicion of the gospel. These things the devil throws in. Therefore, believers are warned to quench these fiery darts that the devil hurls into the souls of men (Eph 6:16).

(2) Every man is haunted with special temptations—temper, sex, age, custom, calling, company, course of affairs. These things are often spoken of in Scripture. From temper: God makes use of temper. For though He plants all grace in the hearts of the regenerate, yet there are certain graces wherein they are eminent, such as Timothy for temperance and Moses for meekness. Thus, Paul speaks of the law in his members (Rom 7:23). The devil may find forces from the temper of the body to destroy the soul. So also, from sex: as he “beguiled Eve” (2Co 11:3). And from age: we read of “youthful lusts” (2Ti 2:22). And how strong the devil is about young ones: “I have written unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one” (1Jo 2:13). They are most assaulted with pride, with youthful lusts suitable to their age. So from custom and education: “I kept myself from mine iniquity” (Psa 18:23). Every man hath his iniquity; that is, such as his education and custom hath wrought upon him, which makes the sin prevail over other sins. A child of God hath a predominant sin; not over grace, for that is inconsistent with sincerity, but some master sin that prevails over the rest. According as the channel is cut, so corrupt nature runs; but some in this channel and some in that. Every man hath his special sin, and accordingly the devil plies him. Then our calling is a special temptation: the apostle speaks that a bishop should not be “a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil” (1Ti 3:6)—pride, ostentation of gifts, and vainglory in such public service. Many other sins follow every calling; therefore, if you would be skilled in Satan’s enterprises, you must mind temper, age, calling. (It is so with) company: as a man’s company is, his soul is insensibly tainted. As a man that walks in the sun is tanned before he is aware, so are the souls of men sullied and defiled by carnal company before they be aware. A man would think (that) of all sins, passion is so uncomely that it should not tempt another man. Yet it is said, “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul” (Pro 22:24-25). For the more accustomed to them, the less odious they seem; so, little by little, our spirits are shaped and fitted for such a sin. There are certain sins that are more special temptations. Look, as every disease hath a diet that suits with it, so (is it with) all sins in the soul. Satan knows what baits we will catch at…

(3) The sin of the devil tempting must be distinguished from our sin in consenting. If the devil tempts, and we consent not, it is his sin. The envious man may throw weeds over the garden wall; but if we do not suffer them to root there, it is not the gardener’s fault but the fault of the envious man. Likewise, the devil may fling in temptations, fiery darts, atheistic or blasphemous thoughts; yet if we throw them out with indignation and give no harbor and entertainment to them there, it is our misery, but the devil’s sin. Therefore, if our hearts abhor them at the very first rising, though they be man’s cross, they will be put upon Satan’s account.

(4) Satan, if he cannot prevail by the first temptation to draw us to sin, he will seek to prevail by a second or subsequent temptation to draw us to trouble and discomfort. If he cannot weaken grace, he may molest and disturb our comfort by flinging in a blasphemous thought, which is abhorred by a Christian. If he cannot draw you to deny God, then he will seek to cloud things, so that you may suspect your own estate; thus our way is made wearisome to us. Look, as a candle that sticks to a stone wall cannot burn the wall, yet it smudgeth and defileth it; so, the children of God, when the devil seeks to make their temptations stick, though he doth not burn their hearts with these fiery darts of blasphemy and atheism—they catch not there—yet they weaken our comfort. Then his second temptation is to bring us to doubt God’s love, to doubt our own faith, and to draw us to impatience and murmuring at God’s hand. Therefore, it should be our care not only to withstand the devil’s first temptation but also his second.

(5) Certainly, they cannot stand long that seem to give up themselves to Satan’s snares. How may this be done? Any carnal affection unmortified layeth us open to the devil: “They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition” (1Ti 6:9). If a man cherishes his worldliness and does not mortify it, he lieth ready to be seized upon as a ready prey for Satan. Judas had the bag and lay open to the devil; his worldliness increased upon him, so the devil entereth into him. Again, when we ride into the devil’s quarters and will parley with temptation, when we freely open the windows of the senses unto alluring objects and can dally with the snare and play about the temptation, then we do but tempt God to leave us and tempt the devil to surprise us. Therefore, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1Pe 5:8). “Be sober”—what is sobriety? A holy moderation in the use of worldly things. Be sure not to leave any carnal affection unmortified. And then, be watchful: take heed not to play about the temptation, nor put yourselves upon occasions of sin, for then we lie open to the devil and give him an advantage against us. Thus, much for the second sort of temptations such as come from Satan.

In no sense are good men compelled to sin. God always provides a way of escape. That way may be through a burning fiery furnace, through a lion’s den, through a shower of stones, through death itself; but it is still a way of escape. It is not wicked to die. In his design to prove Job a hypocrite, Satan was entirely baffled. In his attempt to bring to naught the work of redemption, he wholly failed. The Son of God was more than a match for him.
—William S. Plumer

The devil, I am sure, begins to tempt when saints cease to watch. When the staff is thrown away, then the wolf appears.
—William Gurnall