How Much Temptation Is from Man's Nature as Opposed to Satan?

Greg explains who or what is responsible when we fall into temptation.


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So what is the relationship in the area of temptation to our flesh's contribution, that is, the impulses of our fallen nature, and Satan? Is there any way to measure this? Is Satan given too much credit?

Well, let's start with the last one first. I think sometimes Satan is given too much credit and the reason is, is that our flesh is looking for an excuse to exonerate itself from responsibility. I always want to point somewhere else, "Well, the devil made me do it," kind of thing. When that's done, of course he's given too much credit. Here's the best way to think of it.

The scripture teaches that we have three enemies. Three enemies. The world, the flesh, and the Devil. The flesh and the Devil are not the only problem. The world is also out there, okay? We read in James, chapter one, about temptation. It seems like it's describing the internal experience of the temptation, that our flesh gives into. There's no mention of the Devil there. The Devil is also called the tempter. We know that he plays a role and in the very beginning he was the one who offered a temptation, an inducement. We learned later that it was the Devil that put it into Judas's mind, for example, to betray Jesus.

I think there could be no question that the world has it's role too. The lust of the eyes that John talks about in first John. Probably the safest way to think about this is that all of our enemies are involved in the process of trying to induce us away from good living, righteous living, into disobedience. Our enemies would be the devil. He wants to induce us to rebel against God.

The flesh, we have our own rebellious nature, or element, within us that we are fighting against, the new man is fighting against and must always. We read about this in Galatians, chapter five, the fight between the flesh and the spirit. At the same time we have the world out there, flashing all of it's inducements before us and trying to convince us of the legitimacy's of the wrong way of fulfilling our deep desires.

Those are all of our enemies. They all play a part and they all work together. I guarantee you, if the world offers us an inducement, our flesh has an element that wants to respond to it and the Devil's right there blowing on the coals. They're all involved and the only rescue is to walk by the spirit. That is, put our trust in God's provision to resist the Devil. To, in a certain sense, close our eyes to the world. I don't mean walk around uneducated, or unaware of what's going on, but to remind ourselves that those are false appeals. To see the lie in that and to put our confidence in the spirit to overcome our flesh's cooperation in all of that.

Be forwarned, you have three huge enemies working against you and we need submissive, humble, trust in the Lord and a properly renewed mind to oppose them in the power of the Holy Spirit. All of those things are really necessary. Tough enemies, we have a powerful solution. The solution must be engaged every single day and it will be a fight until the very end.

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Greg Koukl