Temptation is an invitation or an enticement to commit an immoral act. Right now Satan is raging over the earth as a roaring lion trying to devour Christians through powerful enticements toward immorality. No one is immune and the closer you get to God, the more Satan will desire to sift you.
Sinners cannot be tempted—only true children of God can! Rain cannot touch a body already under water. Sinners are already drowned in perdition and as children of Satan, they do as he dictates. They do not have to be tempted or enticed, because they are already immoral—already condemned. As slaves, they are not free to choose. They simply go from dead, to twice dead, “to being plucked up by the roots.” Sinners can be teased by the devil but not tempted. Satan teases his own children into deeper and darker pits of immorality but they are already dead in their trespasses and sins and no longer fight the battles of the living. That’s why our Lord tells us to rejoice when we fall into diverse temptations. We are experiencing something unique only to maturing Christians.
Temptation is “training under combat conditions.” It is “limited” warfare—God limits it to the point of being “bearable.” He wants combat-seasoned warriors who can testify, “I was under fire! I’ve been in the battle! The enemy was all around me, shooting at me, trying to kill me, but God showed me how to take it and not be afraid. I have experience now, so the next time I’ll not fear.”
Temptation is not a sign of weakness or a leaning toward the world. Rather, it is a graduation, a sign that God trusts us. The Spirit led Jesus into the arena of temptation in the wilderness so he could learn the secret of power over all temptation. Actually, God was saying to Jesus, “Son, I have given you the Spirit without measure. I have confirmed you before the world. Now I am going to permit Satan to throw at you every device he has—so you will see how powerless he is—so you will never once fear his dominion—that you may go forth preaching the kingdom with faith that Satan is defeated—that he cannot touch you in any way.”
That is why Christians are tempted today. Temptation is allowed in the saintliest of lives to teach us the limitation of Satan. To expose his weakness. To reveal Satan as a scarecrow. We fear only what we do not understand.