I just listened to a fantastic sermon by S.M. Davis (our guest speaker for our meeting this coming February). He said that every kind of temptation Satan sends us is for us to act NOW - in the present. He has nothing to offer for the future, so every one of his temptations are for our immediate action.
Consider Jesus' temptations:
- "Turn the stones to bread." Jesus was hungry and would eat sooner or later - he just would have had to go to the nearest town to get food (or have the angels minister to him later), but Satan tempted him to get the bread NOW.
- "Cast yourself down from the temple". It would have shown everyone NOW that he is truly God and very powerful, but that revelation was to come later.
- "I'll give you all kingdoms if you worship me (now)." That's what Jesus is after - his complete rule over all the universe.
But he has to go through the process God laid out first - his death and resurrection, and ultimately his final Judgment. He could have had it all THEN, but with only one small glitch.
So Satan tempts us, and so we are called to "resist the devil and he will flee from us."
Why is that? I hadn't considered it before, but I think it's nothing more than a delay tactic. If we resist and delay, he flees because he wants everything NOW.
And the principles of 'delayed gratification' are foundational to our life. Don't buy an expensive house or car now with borrowed money - save your money and until you have the funds to buy it outright, and you will be better off (or follow Dave Ramsey's advice about working your way up to your dream house or car). The point is to delay your desires until they can be achieved in their proper time.
Save your intimacy until marriage. Nancy and I didn't even kiss until we were married, and our marriage has been blessed by God tremendously!
"Work before play."
The principle is everywhere - wait and delay for the things you desire until their proper time, and if you are pressured to do something NOW, then it's likely a temptation from Satan. Just have patience (one of the fruits of the spirit, you recall), and resist.