Billy Graham has warned that temptations may become stronger once a person gives their life to Christ, because Satan will do everything he can to discourage us and cause us to doubt our salvation.
A reader recently posed a question to the founder of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association: "When I asked Jesus to come into my life a few months ago, I thought I was supposed to stop being tempted," wrote the reader. "But I have stronger temptations now than I used to have. What's wrong with me?"
The 98-year-old Baptist pastor explained that just because one has given their life to Jesus doesn't mean they'll never be tempted to do wrong. In fact, the Bible promises the exact opposite.
"We may face even stronger temptations once we give our lives to Christ," he said, "because Satan will do everything he can to discourage us and cause us to doubt our salvation. Remember: Satan's chief goal is to attack God in every way he possibly can-and one way he does that is by tempting believers to sin or become discouraged."
Satan "never gives up the fight," Graham said.
"If he tried to tempt Jesus, you can be sure he'll try to tempt you. But never forget: Satan is a defeated foe, and if we belong to Christ, we are on the winning side."
The evangelist added, "Don't give in to the devil's schemes, and don't believe his lies. Instead, put your confidence in God and in the promises of His Word, the Bible. Thank God that you now belong to Jesus Christ, and you are safely in His hands forever."
Finally, it's important to strengthen your faith everyday as you pray, study the Bible, and learn from the preaching and teaching of the church.
"The Bible says, 'So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith' (Colossians 2:6-7)," he concluded.
Previously, Graham reflected on Peter in the New Testament, who gave into temptation and denied Christ not once, but three times. However, despite his despicable actions, Peter later became one of the strongest and most courageous Christians the world has ever known.
"Peter realized what he had done, and he repented of it," Graham explained. "Then Peter surrounded himself with other believers, and together they strengthened each other and grew in their faith. Peter also witnessed for Christ and let others know of Christ's love for them."
Like Peter, turn to Christ and ask for His forgiveness and help - and leave negative influences behind. Graham said to take seriously the Bible's admonition in 1 Corinthians 15:3: "Do not be misled: 'Bad company corrupts good character'".
In an earlier devotion, Graham pointed out that when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, he defeated Satan every time using the Bible.
"All of us are not subjected to the same weaknesses and temptations, he explained. "To one, alcohol may be the temptation; to another, it may be impure thoughts and acts; to another, greed and covetousness; to another, criticism and an unloving attitude. Regardless of what it may be, be sure that Satan will tempt you at your weak point, not the strong."
He added, "When temptations come, let me suggest that you ask God for strength-and also to show you the way He has prepared for your escape. One other word of counsel; be very sure that you do not deliberately place yourself in a position to be tempted."