V. THE LIMITATIONS OF THE TEMPTER
A. If a Temptation Falls outside of God’s Promise,
It Cannot Do Anything to the Believers
"And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only..." (Job 1:12). "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has asked to have..." (Luke 22:31). Every time temptations come upon us, we should be reminded that all temptations are allowed by the Father. Behind every temptation, there is the hand of God. We should have an attitude of faith and should trust that nothing can come upon us directly from Satan unless the Father permits it. Satan cannot put anything upon us by himself.
B. The Reason God Allows Satan to Tempt Us
Without temptations, we would be proud. Before the devil sifted Peter as wheat, his pride was strong. After he was sifted, he realized the inadequacy of his own strength and was able to receive power from on high to fulfill a great work. Consider the example of a small child going out with his father. He does not want to follow his father and walks away from him on his own. But when he meets a snake and comes close to being hurt, he hurries back to his father to come under his protection. If saints have no temptations, they will not be willing to draw near to the heavenly Father in this way. This is the case with believers who are immature in life. If we realize that the evil spirits in the spiritual realm are everywhere trying to tempt us and hurt us, we will surely trust in God and not be proud in ourselves. Paul said, "There was given to me...a messenger of Satan, that he might buffet me, in order that I might not be exceedingly lifted up" (2 Cor. 12:7). There is no goodness in our flesh, yet how many people are there who will consciously acknowledge this fact? For this reason, God allows the enemy to tempt us. Sometimes He may even allow us to fail so that we will know ourselves and not be proud. This was the experience of Job. Moreover, unless we are tempted in this way, we will not be willing to apply the victory of Golgotha in our experience. It is because of these temptations that there is the opportunity for victory and, consequently, the need for and possibility of the application of Golgotha. Since we realize the true meaning of these temptations and see that they are unavoidable, we should ask God to cause us to overcome in Christ. God allows us to meet with temptations. If we read 1 Corinthians 5:5 and Job 2:3, we can see the reason for these temptations. Temptations are not sins in themselves. It is only when we succumb to temptations that there is sin (Heb. 4:15).
C. The Limit of Temptations
"No temptation has taken you except that which is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow that you be tempted beyond what you are able, but will, with the temptation, also make the way out, that you may be able to endure it" (1 Cor. 10:13). There are seven points that we should learn from this verse:
(1) Temptations are common to man. Some people think that their environment and position are unique and that their temptations are special. Little do they know that temptations are common to man. "Except that which is common to man."
(2) We should remember that "God is faithful." If God can fail, then we can fail. But if He is faithful, we should trust Him and should not fail.
(3) All temptations are within what we are able to bear. "Not...tempted beyond what you are able." The temptations that God permits cannot be too great. Hence, when temptations come, we should not take a passive stand, allowing the devil to do whatever he wants.
(4) With every temptation, there is "the way out." Hence, we can overcome every time.
(5) Even if there is no way out, God will "also make the way out."
(6) Sometimes, to endure is the very way out. "That you may be able to endure it."
(7) Temptation is not sin, but to succumb to temptation is sin. "That you may be able to..."
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 01: The Christian Life and Warfare, Chapter 13, by Watchman Nee)