Other temptation, while still dangerous, comes merely from the constant bombardment of living in a fallen, lustful world. "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world" (I John 2:16). The world appeals to the fleshly nature found in men, and man falls when he allows his innate desires to cooperate with the allure of this world. "But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust" (James 1:14).
Believers will not be perfected until their bodies are redeemed in glory, meaning they will sometimes yield to temptation on this earth. Nevertheless, victory over specific temptation is possible. Jesus told His disciples that they could avoid falling to the snare. "When He arrived at the place, He said to them, 'Pray that you may not enter into temptation'" (Luke 22:40).
Temptations are universal and frequent, but failure is not inevitable. "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it" (I Corinthians 10:13). When temptation comes, there is always a way to emerge victorious.
Jesus provided insight into the key for victory by revealing, "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail" (Luke 22:31-32). Jesus said it was Simon's faith that was the key. Peter himself later rehearsed the same truth. Referring to the devil, he instructed, "But resist him, firm in your faith" (I Peter 5:9). Paul also advised, "In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one" (Ephesians 6:16). To resist Satanic attack, one's faith must be firm and cannot fail.
Victory over the temptations of the world is achieved the same way. "This is the victory that has overcome the world - even our faith" (I John 5:4). "For we walk by faith, not by sight" (II Corinthians 5:7). Paul commended one church for their faith, which gave them victory in the midst of multiplied testing. "Therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure" (II Thessalonians 1:4).
This victory-rendering faith must be grounded in the Bible. "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17). Jesus Himself provided an example of claiming the Bible's truth in the midst of temptation. In Matthew 4, he repeatedly countered Satan's attacks with the premise, "It is written."
People with extensive Bible knowledge still fall in temptation when their knowledge is not accompanied by faith. "But the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard" (Hebrews 4:2). One of the most wide-scale failures in the Bible was due to a lack of faith. The children of Israel, having experienced God's great deliverance and incredible provision and having received His instructions, did not believe God when it came time to enter the Promised Land. Their lack of faith brought failure in their time of testing. "So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief" (Hebrews 3:19).
The Bible is filled with stories of people who had victory over temptation and of others who collapsed in failure. Those who did not maintain faith ended in disaster. "Keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith" (I Timothy 1:19).
Depending on their faith, some Bible characters stood victorious, while others fell in the same temptation. One man believed God's words and clung to them in faith, while another forgot or wavered in his belief. In the area of immorality, Joseph prevailed while David fell. When it came to illness, Job struggled while Paul triumphed. In terms of faithful service, Barnabas had victory while Demas faced defeat.
Some characters even had different outcomes at different stages of life. Given the perfect opportunity, David would not kill Saul, who had pursued him mercilessly, yet David later devised an elaborate scheme to murder Uriah. John Mark initially abandoned God's service, but later proved to be a profitable servant. Balaam repeatedly refused to curse God's people, but eventually contrived a way to placate a wicked king. Abraham had such strong doubts that he lied and schemed, but later his faith that God could raise Isaac from the dead yielded incredible obedience. Job struggled with significant doubts and despair but finally silenced himself humbly before God.
In whatever test a believer is experiencing, it would be instructive to study Bible characters in similar situations. Why did one man have victory while another fell? Why did a particular character experience only occasional victory? What truth of God was claimed in faith in one instance but forgotten in another? What mistruth became more important than God's truth? What human lust was so strong that God's truth was ignored?
Even more practically, a believer can ask himself questions. What dangerous thoughts or lusts threaten my faith? What things am I believing that will lead me in the wrong direction? What truth of God must I think about in this situation? Do I choose to believe that truth? Am I mixing my understanding with faith? How am I going to remind myself of this truth so that I will still have victory tomorrow?