God wants all Christians to grow in discernment, to be able to make the right decisions every single time. He wants all of us to know how to distinguish between right and wrong, so that we can make the appropriate choices when needed.
That said, we should also learn how to recognize a temptation from the devil.
Friends, the Bible tells us that all of us are in the devil's crosshairs, continually targeting us day and night, wherever and whenever. The enemy is always looking for an opportunity to cause us to disobey God and do what we shouldn't do. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us,
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour."
The enemy is always looking out for someone he can tempt and seduce into sinning. James 1:14 tells us how he does this:
"But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed."
Friends, we should take extra care to determine if we are being tempted to sin so that we can take active measures against it. I hope that like the apostle Paul, we would all be able to say that "we are not ignorant of [Satan's] devices" (2 Corinthians 2:11).
So how do we know if Satan is tempting us? We know for a fact that the temptations he throws at us will always be one of the following:
"For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.""(1 John 2:16)
Satan tried to tempt the Lord Jesus to fall for any of these in Luke 4:1-13, the time when the Spirit of God led Him to fast for forty (40) days. Let's look at each one and see how the devil could do that to us.
1) Lust of the flesh - when your fleshly urges are awakened
"And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry. And the devil said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread."" (Luke 4:2-3)
Satan tempted Christ using something that is common to everyone: hunger. The enemy knows our basic needs, and if he can tempt us to disobeying God in order to meet our basic needs like food, shelter, clothing and love, he will tempt us again and again in an attempt to succeed.
This is why Christ keeps on teaching us to pursue God, not money (see Matthew 6:24). We must seek God first in all that we do, for God will be the one to take care of all that we need and even long for (see Matthew 6:33).
Of course, this includes the natural inclination towards physical intimacy. We need to guard against being tempted to lust after the opposite sex (or even the same sex).
2) Lust of the eyes - when something catches your fancy
"Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours."" (Luke 4:5-7)
The key here in point number two is the word "showed." The enemy will always tempt us to pursue something that catches our eyes and our attention. When we see something that attracts us, we might be tempted to come close or pursue it even if it's already sinful and displeasing to the Lord.
Case in point: sexual lust, pornography, covetousness and greed. Satan was trying to lure Jesus by showing him something that everyone wants: glory. We should learn to control our eyes and our imagination, and stay away from greed, lust, and covetousness.
Ever noticed why Christ Jesus said "that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (see Matthew 5:28)? Our eyes are the gateways to our soul and our will. What we gaze at or look at will fill our minds and influence our decisions. Jesus tells us,
"The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matthew 6:22-23)
3) Pride of life - when you're tempted to think you deserve better
"Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you,' and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.'"" (Luke 4:9-11)
Lastly, we talk about pride, vanity and our sense of self. Christ knew that He was and is the Son of God, and the devil wanted Him to flaunt it. Christ knew that the Father had given all things into His hand (see John 3:35), and the devil wanted Him to abuse that.
We Christians could be tempted to flaunt our adoption by God. We could be tempted to act with an air of superiority compared to others. We could be tempted to live with a sense of self-entitlement. All of these are wrong.
Christ made Himself of no reputation and took the lowly form of a servant. Who are we to think otherwise?