Arguing with temptation

The Puritan John Flavel identified six arguments which Satan uses to tempt as long with model responses. Here I’ve abridged and updated what Flavel says. See if you can spot the voice of temptation in your life and identify how you should respond.


  1. The pleasure of sin

Temptation: Look at my smiling face and listen to my charming voice. Here is pleasure to be enjoyed. Who can stay away from such delights?

The believer: The pleasures of sin are real, but so are the pangs of conscience and the flames of hell. The pleasures of sin are real, but pleasing God is much sweeter.


  1. The secrecy of sin

Temptation: This sin will never disgrace you in public because no-one will ever find out.

The believer: Can you find somewhere without the presence of God for me to sin?


  1. The profit of sin

Temptation: If you just stretch your conscience a little, you’ll gain so much. This is your opportunity.

The believer: What do I benefit if I gain the whole world but lose my own soul? I won’t risk my soul for all the good in this world.


  1. The smallness of sin

Temptation: It’s only a little thing, a small matter, a trifle. Who else would worry about such a trivial thing?

The believer: Is the majesty of heaven a small matter too? If I commit this sin, I will offend and wrong a great God. Is there any little hell to torment little sinners? Great wrath awaits those the world thinks are little sinners. The less the sin, the less the reason to commit it! Why should I be unfaithful towards God for such a trifle?


  1. The grace of God

Temptation: God will pass over this as a weakness. He won’t make a big deal of it.

The believer: Where do I find a promise of mercy to presumptuous sinners? How can I abuse such a good God? Shall I take God’s glorious mercy and make it a reason to sin? Shall I wrong him because he’s good?


  1. The example of others

Temptation: Better people than you have sinned in this way. And plenty of people have been restored after committing this sin.

The believer: God didn’t record the examples of good people sinning for me to copy, but to warn me. Am I willing to feel what they felt for sin? I dare not follow their example in case God plunges me into the deeps of horror he cast them.


Adapted from John Flavel, Keeping the Heart, Christian Heritage, 116-121, or ‘A Saint Indeed,’ Works Vol. 5 Banner of Truth, 477-480. Keeping the Heart is available from and

Support this site by using these links:

includes Tim Chester’s books
20% of every thinkivp purchase goes
to train Christian leaders in poorer countries