There are times in life when we are particularly susceptible to sin. The devil was well aware of this when he tempted the Lord Jesus in the wilderness (even though Christ initiated it). He sought to exploit Jesus in the weaknesses of His humanity, and he takes the same approach with us only he has greater leverage because of our propensity to sin. The apostle Paul tells us that we are not ignorant of his schemes. If we are to understand how the devil works and prepare ourselves accordingly, we need to understand the points at which we are weakest and how he is able to take advantage. Here are some thoughts:
A. We are vulnerable when we are tired: Being fatigued in mind and body makes it all the more difficult to resist temptation. Tiredness opens the door to self-indulgence for relaxation. Tiredness makes the thought of personal devotions and church meetings arduous. Tiredness will undermine self-control and commitment if we allow it to. Isaiah tells us that strength is renewed as we wait upon the Lord; spiritual exercises may be the last thing we want to do, but it is the way that God uplifts the weary. He grants rest and strength to those who spend time in His presence.
B. We are vulnerable when we are alone: Having people around us provides a safeguard. Once we are on our own, we are left to our thoughts; we are left to get lost in our imaginations – to stew over issues, to fantasize, to covet. Being alone also removes a sense of accountability and allows us to pursue things which we otherwise would not if we were with others. Obviously, we can’t always be in the company of people and even if we could, it doesn’t address the state of our hearts. We must learn to live every day in the conscious reality that we are always in the presence of God.
C. We are vulnerable when we are emotional: I am referring to those times when we feel anxious, fearful, angry, frustrated, lonely, discouraged, etc. Emotions are very powerful and provide Satan with the opportunity to overwhelm us. He is able to feed and strengthen our emotions and so we are swallowed up by them; they overshadow God and His Word. Before we get to that stage, we must subject our emotions to the truth of scripture and prayer. We must allow God to counsel our feelings rather than the evil one.
D. We are vulnerable when we are proud: Feeling secure in ourselves, happy with our success, strong in our wisdom means that we are spiritually weak and vulnerable. The kingdom of God works in paradoxes – when we think we are strong we are weak, when we embrace our weakness then we are strong. Unless we are conscious of our dependence upon God in all things, we will not look to Him and His enabling. We will not live thankfully before Him. God gives grace to the humble and resists the proud.
Jesus is our example when it comes to resisting temptation. He met the devil head on and overcame his schemes. The help that we need is found in the ‘means of grace’. The first step is to understand how the devil works and how he seeks to exploit us when we are most vulnerable.