Now that brings us to the big question, the one for which we’ve reviewed this history of Christ's temptation. How did the Lord Jesus Christ come out on top of them? How did He resist them and overcome? The answer to this is contrary to what most people think, for they think that He did it by drawing on His divine nature. They believe that He had more power to resist temptation than we do.

Now secondly what does it mean to resist? How do we resist? The answer is, by means of God's Word. The Lord Jesus Christ said to His disciples, "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you," meaning that purity of life can be ours to the degree that we feed upon the Bible and study it. The psalmist said, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word…Thy word have I hidden in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Paul said, writing specifically of our spiritual warfare against Satan, "And take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

The second main source of temptations is the world. Now what is the world? Clearly the Bible is not talking about the physical earth when it speaks of the world's temptations. It's talking rather about a system of values that are not divine values, and about a way of life that is not God's way of life—a lifestyle, if you will. The Oxford English Dictionary hits upon this sense of the word when it defines the world as "worldly affairs, the aggregate of things earthly." In this area we must place temptations to become president of the company or of the women's auxiliary at the expense of others who also want the top position. We must include most of the sins of pride—pride in our ancestry, our wealth, our superior taste in art, music, or drama. We must include all desires to put down other people.

Now I've looked at these different verses from James because through them we can summarize the different teachings that the Bible has about temptation. When we summarize them, we see that there are two basic kinds of temptation: temptations from God, which are good (and it's not even good to use that word; “testing” is a better word). And then there are temptations to sin, which are evil. This second kind of temptation, the temptation to sin, may be divided into temptations of the flesh, the world, and Satan. It is over these temptations that every believer must triumph. And therefore it's these we must talk about in this study. 

Most of us have heard scores of jokes about temptation, such as those by Oscar Wilde, who wrote in The Picture of Dorian Gray, "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it." Or again in Lady Widermere's Fan, "I can resist anything...except temptation." Jokes such as these are thought funny by those who are not engaged in the struggle. But any who are seriously struggling with temptation know that temptation is real, that it is serious, and that it can come to any believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, from any quarter, at any time.