The Word of God has much to say about responding to temptation in our lives. Harmful desires can pull us away from the truth of Scriptures, living for Jesus and into destructive choices. So what is temptation, what are the best Bible verses for temptation, and how can believers resist temptation while living in a fallen world.
What is temptation in the Bible?
The best definition of temptation is a solicitation to sin. Of utmost importance, temptation never originates from God.
This is very clearly stated in James 1:13. God will never tempt us to sin nor can He ever be tempted to sin.
Our God is so holy, so not like us, that sin is never enticing to Him, it is only offensive and revolting. Christ Jesus lived a perfect life and always resisted temptation, never giving in to its power.
What are the 3 sources of temptation?
1. The Flesh: Internal temptation
This kind of temptation arises from our own desires when we are tempted by our “flesh” aka the sinful nature. According to James 1:14 “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.”
2. The World: External temptations
We see this in Matthew 26:41 of the disciples (tempted by external circumstances) to fall asleep while they should have been praying. (Who has been tempted by that one! “Dear Jesus, I love you so *yawn* much….please help….*yawn*…the missionaries…zzzzzzz…
3. Satan: External temptation
Finally, temptation can also be directly from Satan.
The most obvious example of this is when Jesus was directly tempted by the devil in Luke 4. This is at the beginning of Jesus ministry and great example of how to respond to temptation. Jesus uses the truth of Scripture quotations to respond to each of Satan’s temptations.
Even though was probably physically weak and hungry, His spiritual state was well-fortified against Satan’s attacks and able to recognize how Satan was twisting the Bible to suit his own purposes.
So is the old “The devil made me do it” excuse legit? Well, not really.
Because of, course, the Lord Jesus Christ resisted the devil and he empowers us to do the same. But the devil is “crafty”–he is subtle and skilled in deceit and targets his temptation to our desires.
For example, if we look at the story of Annanias and Saphira in the book of Acts we see their desires interacting with Satan’s temptations. In Acts 5:3-4 we read, “But Peter said, ‘Ananais, why has Satan filled your heart to lie…why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart?”
In this account we see Satan played a role AND Ananais played a role. Satan can target his lies to the patterns of weakness he sees in our lives; but he cannot force us to yield to temptation.
Our choice to give in to the temptation comes from our own desires.
Yes, Satan will be held accountable for the lies he has whispered in our ears that have led us astray. And yes, we will be held accountable for our decisions to give into temptation: to believe him and to act on his lies.
The good news is that while temptation (no matter its source) is inevitable, succumbing to temptation is not. God promises us when we are being tempted He always gives us an “out” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
We have the power to “just say no” thanks to the Holy Spirit living within us. We can resist temptation by following Christ’s example in Luke 4 and focusing on the truth of God’s Word.
We can also obey His command to the disciples and pray not succumb to temptation (Luke 22:40). And we can choose to be wise about the situations we place ourselves in to mitigate temptation in our lives.
40 Best Bible Verses for Temptation
Read these selections of 40 verses to help you understand where temptation comes from and how to handle it in your life.
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. -Luke 4:1-2
And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time. -Luke 4:13
On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” -Luke 22:40
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. -Romans 6:22
Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. -1 Corinthians 6:18-20
But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband…Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. -1 Corinthians 7:2,5
Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. -1 Corinthians 10:12-14
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” -1 Corinthians 15:33
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. -Galatians 6:1
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. -Ephesians 6:10-12
RELATED: 15 Promises of God in The Bible
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. -Colossians 3:5
It is the will of God that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable. -1 Thessalonians 4:3-4
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. -1 Timothy 6:9-10
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. – Timothy 6:12
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. -2 Timothy 2:22
Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. -Hebrews 2:17-18
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. -Hebrews 4:16
Count it pure joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of many kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. -James 1:2-4
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 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 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
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. -1 Peter 5:8
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. -1 John 2:1
For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. -1 John 2:16
Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. -Revelation 3:10-11
Resources for Growing Your Faith
- 35 Bible Verses for Common Marriage Problems
- 25 Bible Verses About God’s Faithfulness
- 35 Bible Verses to Pray for Your Children
- And find even more resources to grow your faith here!
The human experience is full of temptation, but the Christian life is empowered by God to overcome temptation. The Words of God are the best defense against the temptations we often face. Knowing how seriously God takes sin should compel us to fight against temptation with the power of the Holy Spirit and the truth of the Scriptures.
And we can know when we fall to temptation God’s love and grace are always there to pick us up and help us continue on our journey of faith with Jesus.