Do You Know How To Recognize The Anatomy of a Temptation?

faith holiness personal development strategy


Did you know you are walking around with a target on your back?

Why? You are so integral to the plan and purposes of God in the earth that you are actually walking around with a target on your back for the enemy to try to take you out. 

This is one reason we were instructed to put on the full armor of God. 

We read in the Bible that we are not to be ignorant of our enemy and his schemes, his strategies to specifically take us out of the game and render us useless, disconnected from our purpose on the sidelines. 

There is a method and a strategy to every attack and temptation that comes our way, which is why in this post we're doing to learn the anatomy of a temptation and dissect it. This is so important to talk about because we are surrounded by temptations. It’s the enemy's plan and it's what he uses. 

We can get spun out of control by giving in to temptations. Our enemy is a keen observer of human nature. He's a created being, but he's been observing human nature for a very long time. 

We’re not that different from other humans that lived hundreds and even thousands of years before us. Yes, we have more technology. We have different distractions, and we have different, easier and readily available temptations. But when it comes down to it, human weakness is inherent in all of us because there are a couple of attack strategies Satan uses repeatedly when he comes to level a temptation to get you to trip up and fall.


Three Specific Strategies of Attack 

There is an order for how our enemy goes after us because, again, we are not that different from other humans. He knows the human pattern and the human faults. He knows what men can easily trip up and fall into. What tempts you may not tempt me and I'm not just talking about "big" sins, either. But we can fit temptations under the same few umbrellas, and importantly, sin always keeps you longer than you wanted to stay. 

So it's important for us to recognize the plan and strategy of the enemy so we can build walls, set boundaries, and know exactly what his battle plan is. Knowledge is power and when we know it, we can be equipped to fight it. 

Temptations always come in three levels, and as we look at the anatomy of a temptation, I'm using the word anatomy because it really signifies how you build something; the makeup, its DNA and the sequence and order of the temptations that we face in our life and that the enemy brings to our doorstep.

So in order for us to understand the devil’s strategies, we need to review our spiritual anatomy. 

We all have a makeup from the way God designed us, and this is important because the three levels in the way we are designed, the three parts of us that make us the whole man that we are, are also direct correlations to the way temptations come at us.


Strategy 1: Attack on the Physical Body 

We have a spirit man within us. We also are a soul, and the soul is our mind, our will, and our emotions. It's what makes up our personality, and then we also obviously have a body. We have flesh and blood. 

In the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve gave in to sin we see some very specific strategies the enemy used. Satan shows up in the form of a serpent, and starts an exchange with Eve about this fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which was off limits to Adam and Eve.

The tree has fruit and is pleasant to the eyes. The fruit tastes good, you can touch it and I'm sure you could smell its aroma. There's something about this that's appealing to the five senses, and Eve can see that this fruit is good for food.

The first level of attack is always on one the five senses 

Your five senses, sensual, something that attracts us, taste, what we see, what we look at. These engage our five physical senses in the realm of our body. So the first line of attack comes against the body of humans, and it's really going after the sensual appetites, the fleshly appetites.

“I'm hungry. I need food that looks good. I want to have it. I wonder what that tastes like.” And that is the first line of attack that the serpent uses against Eve. 


Strategy 2: Attack on the Soul, the Intellect

The next line of attack comes in the realm of the soul or the intellect.

This attack surrounds the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil; it appeals to intellect. So there's something in the soul realm here for why this second level of the temptation appeals to the soul of man. It's telling us that we can grow from it and that there's a personal development theme here. 

“You can get bigger. You can be like God. You can think like God. You can know like God. You won't be ignorant anymore, and you'll be able to know knowledge of good and evil just like God."

The serpent said God doesn't really want you to know this stuff; he’s holding out on you. So the devil appeals to this soulish nature and desire that humans have to acquire knowledge. 


Strategy 3: Attack on The Spirit

And the last part of the attack is really an attack on the spiritual side of man, where the enemy says when you eat this fruit, you will be like God. 

And that really is the crux of this whole temptation wrapped up in a nutshell: that you can be like God; that you'll have the knowledge that God has that he doesn't want you to have. 

We see here there's three lines of questioning and three levels to this temptation. Take notice of the order because you will be able to identify all levels of temptation based on what the enemy does here. 


The Temptation of Jesus

Now let's fast forward over to the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. So let's look at this closely because this is really interesting. You're going to see a mirror image of what we just saw happen at the Garden of Eden. 

If we hold up these two temptation accounts right next to each other we see some uncanny similarities and identify what the enemy might be trying to do in our life.

When Jesus departs the wilderness, he goes on a 40 day fast. He is at the end of this fast when the enemy shows up. 


Your enemy attacks you when you're at your weakest

Jesus was alone. He did not have 12 disciples around him at this point. He did not have a community around him. He just finished a 40 day fast, so he's nutritionally depleted. Right now, he needs sustenance and he just gave this time to God. He's in the wilderness and isolated.

It's at this point in time when Satan shows up and starts with a line of questioning and we're going to see it unfold in three levels again. And the first line of questioning is going after the five senses, an attack on the body appealing to the fleshly appetite that Jesus actually would have had as a human. 

He would have been hungry and the enemy says, if you really are who you say you are, then pick up that stone and turn it into bread. And who knows? Maybe he saw a vision of bread. The enemy’s painting this vivid picture or vision of bread, of something that's delicious and appeals to the senses which would have been a temptation to Jesus.

And Jesus defeats this line of questioning and responds by saying “it is written…” and the enemy has to get behind him as he denies this temptation.


The Temptation of Status

The next temptation, Satan brings Jesus to a high point and shows him the kingdoms of the world. Within human nature, all men have a hunger for status, for resources, for acquiring wealth, the need for respect, the need to be recognized. This is something we are all susceptible to. There's something within us that wants that drive for recognition, that drive to acquire, to have more, to acquire resources, to acquire wealth. 

And this is exactly what the enemy does to Jesus; he brings him to the high point and shows him the kingdoms of the world and says, “I can give you all of this.”

“You can have status. You don't have to go through God's plan for your life. You can go right to the pinnacle with me and you can have it all right now.” 

Of course, Jesus does not give in to this but he defeats the enemy again. He quotes scripture and the enemy is left looking for another angle to try and tempt Jesus with. 

But the second temptation is in the realm of the soul

It's that human nature, that human will, mind, and emotions that want more, that want status, recognition, and respect. We hunger for that; we look for those things. And here, the enemy brings it right to Jesus’s doorstep. Jesus denies it, but it is the second level of the attack and it's on the soul realm. 

The last line of attack that the enemy brings to Jesus is a full out assault on his identity

“If you really are who you say you are, then throw yourself down. The angels will come. They'll pick you up. They won't let you dash your foot against the stone. And you can show me that you really are who you are.”

He attacks his identity, and tries to get Jesus to act out of the will of his father. And of course, Jesus does not do this, but denies Satan. He quotes the word, and Satan gets behind him. 

But notice that the last line of attack is on the spiritual substance; Christ’s spiritual DNA which is his identity and the heart of who he is. 


Do You see the Pattern Yet?

When the enemy attacks us, he always does it in this order; he goes after our body, our senses, what we see with our eyes, what he can entice us with, such as food. 

What do you have a taste for? Maybe it's alcohol. 

What are you searching for? What do you want? What's your fleshly desire? 

That's where he tries to get you tripped up first. Unfortunately, most men will fail here. Most of us are failing when it comes to the fleshly and carnal appetites of our body. 

And after this comes the soul realm, this thirst and hunger for knowledge, recognition. It could be this desire for disproportionate wealth that's out of the will of God. There are many ways that the soul's desire and temptation can be projected on us and can even masquerade as something good. It could be a good thing to go after this or that, but it's not the will of God. 

And then lastly, he'll go after your identity and who God really says you are, attacking your spirit. He's attacking who God says you are and your literal spiritual DNA. 


The attacks of the enemy are always body, soul, and spirit 

In First Thessalonians 5:23, the Apostle Paul is praying for the church at Thessalonica and he prays this prayer and he says, I pray that you would be sanctified, that God would sanctify you, spirit, soul and body. 

That is the order. That's what God's desire and his will for us will be is that we will live from the spirit first, with our soul subordinate to the spirit, and then to our body. That's the correct order and alignment. 

We see when the enemy shows up and when he tempts us, he always perverts the order. It tries to get us out of alignment and always attacks the body first. So it’s no surprise we see the body, the soul and the spirit in both temptation accounts, the Garden of Eden and Jesus in the wilderness. The enemy always reverses the order. 

That's the way temptations come. That's the sequence for how we are tempted. 

So now that you know that we can start to build a plan to be resistant and to recognize and to build some walls and boundaries in our life so we can set ourselves up to be strong in the face of temptation.

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