“What sort of persons ought you to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion!”—2 PETER 3:11.
1, 2. What do we need to have God’s approval?
MOST people are interested in what others think of them. As Christians, though, what Jehovah thinks of us is much more important. After all, he is the greatest Person in the universe, and with him is “the source of life.”—Psalm 36:9.
2 The apostle Peter explained that to have Jehovah’s approval, we need to have “holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion.” (Read 2 Peter 3:11.) Our “acts of conduct” are holy only if we live a clean life in every way. This includes the way we think, act, and worship God. Also, we need to have “deeds of godly devotion” motivated by deep love and respect for God. So it is not only our actions but also our feelings about God that matter to him. Jehovah is the “examiner of the heart,” so he knows whether our actions are holy and whether we worship only him.—1 Chronicles 29:17.
3. What questions should we ask ourselves?
3 Satan the Devil does not want us to have God’s approval. In fact, he does all he can to get us to lose our friendship with Jehovah. Satan constantly uses lies to try to deceive us so that we stop worshipping Jehovah. (John 8:44; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15) So we should ask ourselves: ‘How does Satan deceive people? What can I do to protect my friendship with Jehovah?’
HOW DOES SATAN DECEIVE PEOPLE?
4. To destroy our friendship with God, what does Satan try to do? Why?
4 The disciple James wrote: “Each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire. Then the desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin; in turn, sin, when it has been accomplished, brings forth death.” (James 1:14, 15) To destroy our friendship with God, Satan tries to get to our heart, where our desires come from.
5, 6. (a) How does Satan try to influence our heart? (b) What three things does Satan use to create wrong desires in our heart? How well does he use these things?
5 How does Satan try to influence our heart? The Bible says: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) Satan’s clever tricks include “the things in the world.” (Read 1 John 2:15, 16.) For thousands of years, the Devil has carefully designed this world to deceive people. Because we live in this world, we need to protect ourselves against his clever tricks.—John 17:15.
6 Satan tries to create wrong desires in our heart. To do this, he uses the three “things in the world” mentioned by the apostle John: (1) “the desire of the flesh,” (2) “the desire of the eyes,” and (3) “the showy display of one’s means of life.” Satan used all three of them to tempt Jesus in the wilderness. Because Satan has used these tricks for so many years, he has become very good at using them, and he knows which of them to use for each person. Before we learn how to protect ourselves, let us see how the Devil was able to deceive Eve but was not able to deceive the Son of God.
“THE DESIRE OF THE FLESH”
7. How did Satan use “the desire of the flesh” to tempt Eve?
7 All humans need food to keep living. The Creator designed the earth to produce plenty of food. Satan may try to use our natural desire for food to tempt us to do something that displeases God. Let us see how he did this with Eve. (Read Genesis 3:1-6.) Satan told Eve that she would not die if she ate fruit from “the tree of the knowledge of good and bad.” He said that if she ate from it, she would be like God. (Genesis 2:9) The Devil meant that Eve did not need to be obedient to God to continue living. That was a terrible lie! After the Devil put this idea in her mind, Eve had two choices: She could reject the idea, or she could keep thinking about it and allow her desire for the fruit to grow. Even though she could have eaten from any of the other trees, she chose to keep thinking about the tree in the middle of the garden. As a result, she ate its fruit. Satan had created in her a desire for something that was forbidden by her Creator.
Jesus’ friendship with God was more important than his own needs
8. How did Satan use “the desire of the flesh” to tempt Jesus? Why was Satan not successful?
8 Satan tried to use a similar trick with Jesus. When Jesus was in the wilderness and had not eaten for 40 days and 40 nights, Satan tried to tempt him by using the desire for food. Satan said: “If you are a son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.” (Luke 4:1-3) Jesus had two choices: He could choose not to use his power to satisfy the need for food, or he could choose to use it. Jesus knew that he should not use his power to do something selfish. Even though he was hungry, his friendship with God was more important to him than food. Jesus replied: “It is written, ‘Man must not live by bread alone but by everything proceeding from Jehovah’s mouth.’”—Luke 4:4, footnote.
“THE DESIRE OF THE EYES”
9. What is “the desire of the eyes”? How did Satan use this trick with Eve?
9 Another one of Satan’s tricks mentioned by John is “the desire of the eyes.” A person can begin to desire something simply by looking at it. Satan used this desire to trick Eve and said: “Your eyes are bound to be opened.” The more Eve looked at the fruit, the more she wanted it. Eve saw that the tree “was something to be longed for to the eyes.”
10. How did Satan use “the desire of the eyes” to tempt Jesus? How did Jesus reply?
10 How did Satan use “the desire of the eyes” to tempt Jesus? Satan “showed him all the kingdoms of the inhabited earth in an instant of time; and the Devil said to him: ‘I will give you all this authority and the glory of them.’” (Luke 4:5, 6) What Jesus saw was not really all the kingdoms of the earth, but a vision of their glory. Satan must have felt that Jesus would be tempted by what he saw. He told Jesus: “If you do an act of worship before me, it will all be yours.” (Luke 4:7) Jesus absolutely did not want to be the kind of person Satan wanted him to be. He immediately replied: “It is written, ‘It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.’”—Luke 4:8.
“THE SHOWY DISPLAY OF ONE’S MEANS OF LIFE”
11. How was Eve deceived by Satan?
11 Finally, John mentions “the showy display of one’s means of life.” When Adam and Eve were the only humans on earth, they could not proudly show off what they had in front of other people. But they did become proud. Satan got Eve to believe that there was something wonderful she deserved to have but that God did not want to give her. The Devil told her that if she ate from “the tree of the knowledge of good and bad,” she would “be like God, knowing good and bad.” (Genesis 2:17; 3:5) Satan wanted Eve to think that she could live her life without Jehovah. Pride may have been one reason why Eve believed that lie. She ate the forbidden fruit and thought that she would not die. She was completely wrong.
12. What was another way that Satan tried to tempt Jesus? How did Jesus respond?
12 In contrast with Eve, Jesus set a wonderful example of humility! Satan tried to tempt him to do something that would impress others and would put God to the test. But Jesus strongly refused to do that because it would have been an act of pride! His reply was clear and direct: “It is said, ‘You must not put Jehovah your God to the test.’”—Read Luke 4:9-12.
HOW CAN WE PROTECT OUR FRIENDSHIP WITH JEHOVAH?
13, 14. How does Satan try to deceive us today?
13 Today, Satan uses the same tricks that he used with Eve and Jesus. He uses “the desire of the flesh” to tempt people to do something immoral or to eat and drink too much. He uses “the desire of the eyes” to tempt people to watch pornography, especially on the Internet. And he uses the desire to make a “showy display of one’s means of life” to try to get people to become proud and to want power, fame, and more and more material things.
Satan uses “the desire of the eyes” to tempt people to watch pornography, especially on the Internet
14 Satan uses “the things in the world” just as a fisherman uses bait. Bait looks good to a fish, but inside the bait is a hook. In a similar way, Satan uses things that may seem normal and necessary to make us want to do something against God’s laws. Satan wants us to believe that taking care of our personal needs and making our life comfortable is more important than doing God’s will. Will you be deceived by Satan?
15. Like Jesus, how can we avoid being deceived by Satan?
15 Eve was deceived by Satan, but Jesus was not. Each time Satan tried to trick him, Jesus answered from the Scriptures and said: “It is written” or, “It is said.” If we are good students of the Bible, we will know the Scriptures well and be able to remember verses that can help us when we are tempted. (Psalm 1:1, 2) Remembering the examples of faithful servants of God can help us to be loyal, as they were. (Romans 15:4) Having deep respect for Jehovah, that is, loving what he loves and hating what he hates, will protect us.—Psalm 97:10.
16, 17. How can our “power of reason” affect the kind of person we are?
16 The apostle Paul encourages us to use our “power of reason” to become the kind of person who thinks the way Jehovah thinks, not the way the world thinks. (Romans 12:1, 2) Paul reminds us that we must carefully control what we think about. He said: “We are overturning reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God; and we are bringing every thought into captivity to make it obedient to the Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) Our thinking has a very strong influence on the kind of person we are, so we must always try to think about things that please God.—Philippians 4:8.
Ask yourself, ‘Do my thoughts and desires please God?’
17 If we want to be holy, we have to reject wrong thoughts and desires. We must love Jehovah with “a clean heart.” (1 Timothy 1:5) But the heart is treacherous, and we may not even realize how much “the things in the world” are affecting us. (Jeremiah 17:9) It is important then that we follow Paul’s advice: “Keep testing whether you are in the faith, keep proving what you yourselves are.” As we study the Bible, we should ask ourselves, ‘Do my thoughts and desires please God?’—2 Corinthians 13:5.
18, 19. Why should we work hard to be the kind of person Jehovah wants us to be?
18 Something else that can help us to resist “the things in the world” is to remember John’s words: “The world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.” (1 John 2:17) Satan’s system seems like it will last forever. But one day it will come to an end. Remembering that everything in this world will soon be gone will help us not to be deceived by Satan.
19 The apostle Peter wrote that we should be the kind of person God approves of as we are “awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah, through which the heavens being on fire will be dissolved and the elements being intensely hot will melt!” (2 Peter 3:12) Very soon now, that day will be here, and Jehovah will destroy every part of Satan’s world. Until then, Satan will continue to use “the things in the world” to tempt us, as he tempted both Eve and Jesus. We must not be like Eve and try to satisfy our own desires. This would be like making Satan our god. We need to be like Jesus and resist these temptations, no matter how good Satan makes them look. Let each of us work hard to be the kind of person Jehovah wants us to be.