The traps of the enemy aren’t innovative (and often they’re not even complex). The devil uses three types of temptations to lure us into sin – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life (I encourage you to study them). Jesus was tempted in these three areas while he was in the wilderness, but He overcame (Matt. 4:1-11).
The devil will provide opportunities for you to disobey God and pursue sin by placing things within your view or reach that appeal to your flesh. We fall for these things when we allow our flesh to lead us instead of following the Holy Spirit.
For all that is in the world—the lust and sensual craving of the flesh and the lust and longing of the eyes and the boastful pride of life [pretentious confidence in one’s resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father but are from the world .- 1 John 2:16 NIV
What a Trap Can Look Like
I remember this one coworker that frequently flirted with me. He was not a follower of Jesus but I’ll admit I enjoyed the attention (just being real). However, I knew He wasn’t sent by God because He didn’t know God (i.e. he wasn’t living for Jesus). I had to step back and pray for strength. As I sought God He revealed to me what was REALLY going on. This was just a distraction; a tempting trap to lure me away from God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will.
The enemy was trying to get me distracted and caught up in my feelings so that my attention would be on this guy instead of the purpose God had for me at this job.
It’s hard to be LIGHT when you’re worried about being LIKED.
If I spent time thinking about Him, I’d spend less time thinking of ways to connect with my colleagues and sharing my faith. And, if I got in really deep I’d fall into temptation and pursue a relationship that would likely pull me away from Christ. But I didn’t fall for it. I kept my mind focused on Jesus.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8 NIV
The devil knows how much that one coworker gets on your nerves and he’ll use them to frustrate you so that you curse them out, talk bad about them to others, or treat them badly. That way you won’t see them as a soul that Jesus died for and seek to love them as Christ loves you.
Related Post: A Sober Self-Assessment
He’ll use social media, movies, and music to keep your mind fixated on material things and plant seeds of discontentment as you compare your life to the one you think everyone else is living. Then, maybe, you’ll grow discontent with where God’s placed you (and God himself) and step outside His will to pursue things that you think will fulfill you but actually won’t. I could go on and on but I’m sure you get the picture. The goal is to get our eyes and desire off of Jesus and onto what we can possess, what will satisfy our flesh, and what we can achieve in our own strength.
So how do you recognize these traps and not fall into temptation and sin? The short answer – Seek God and obey Him. Jesus overcame with Word of God. You won’t fall for lies if you are abiding in Truth. Make that your first priority. As you seek God in this area there are three things that have practically helped me and I encourage you to give them a try.
1) Recognize Your Weaknesses & Patterns
The enemy studies your weaknesses. If he knows where you can easily be tempted with traps, then you should too. Seek God to identify those areas and set up boundaries to guard yourself. Don’t give the enemy easy access to your life.
“Do not give the devil a foothold”. – Ephesians 4:27 NIV
Another helpful exercise is observing sinful or negative patterns in your life. It’s not a coincidence that every boss you’ve had gets under your skin or that every guy you’ve dated pulls you away from Christ. Pay attention to these patterns and traps, because they reveal tests you’re continuously failing. Seek God on how to break them. As you do you’ll find your self moving forward instead of going around the same mountains.
2) Realize You Have a Choice
Decide in your heart and mind that Jesus is who you are living for. God will warn you about sin but he will not force you to choose what’s right. Out of love, He gives us free will. You have to FIGHT against your flesh, deny yourself, and follow Christ. The good news is you don’t have to do it in your own strength. The bible tells us that God will give us a way out when we are tempted (1 Corinthians 10:13). Jesus overcame every temptation known to man – and through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can overcome as well.
“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” – James 1:13-15 NIV
3) Understand You’re in a Spiritual War
This fight is spiritual so you have to be spiritually equipped. The traps are harder to see the more out of tune you are with God. Pray for discernment daily and ask God to open your spiritual eyes. Be intentional about focusing on what’s eternal, not what’s temporary. That will help you make decisions based on what lies ahead of you (God’s promises, eternal life, etc…) instead of what’s simply in front of you. Lastly, like a soldier preparing for battle, put on the full armor of God every day as described in Ephesians 6.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” – Ephesians 6:12-13 NIV