What The Bible Says About How The Devil Can Tempt People To Sin, And Sometimes Cause People To Suffer In Order To Prevent Them From Sinning

It may help anyone who's being strongly tempted to do something they know they shouldn't do if they ask God to release them from any spiritual influences that may be tempting them to do it. Here's a selection of Bible passages about the types of things it says the devil can tempt people to do.

Note: The Bible doesn't say that temptation is always caused by Satan. Bible writers would probably say nearly all temptation almost certainly has purely natural causes. Also, if you're strongly tempted to do something, don't just pray about it; if there are more practical measures you can take to reduce the temptation, do so. For instance, if a person's tempted to have an affair, cutting off all unnecessary contact with the person they're tempted to have the affair with would be advisable.

This page consists mainly of Bible verses. If you'd like to read a short summary of what the Bible says about why the devil exists and what he does, instead or beforehand, visit: Why the Bible Says God Created Satan.

Skip to links to articles explaining how things often thought to be demonic/supernatural/psychic can be done by trickery and in other natural ways.

Also, there is a viewpoint on the Bible called preterism, which teaches that much of the Bible prophecy thought by many to be about the future was actually about things that happened in the first century AD, such as the Jewish war with the Romans that led to the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70. It teaches that that was the end of the age of Old Testament Law, and the beginning of the "age of grace". It teaches that Satan is not currently active, but that since AD 70, we have been living in the time spoken of in Revelation that says he would be bound for a long time so he wouldn't be able to do a thing on the earth during that time. That would mean that whatever instructions and information people were given about Satan in the Bible would only have been meant for the time beforehand and will not apply to us. To read about this view on the devil, see an article called HOW PARTIAL PRETERISM REGARDS SATAN...


Near the beginning of Mark's Gospel in the New Testament, the Bible says:

Mark chapter 1 (CEV)

9 Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River.
10 As soon as Jesus came out of the water, he saw the sky open and the Holy Spirit coming down to him like a dove. 11 A voice from heaven said, "You are my own dear Son, and I am pleased with you."

12 Right away God's Spirit made Jesus go into the desert. 13 He stayed there for forty days while Satan tested [or tempted] him. Jesus was with the wild animals, but angels took care of him.


In Matthew's Gospel, the Bible says that Jesus advised people:

Matthew chapter 6 (TEV)

7 "When you pray, do not use a lot of meaningless words, as the pagans do, who think that their gods will hear them because their prayers are long. 8 Do not be like them. Your Father already knows what you need before you ask him.
9 This, then, is how you should pray:

"Our Father in heaven: May your holy name be honored;
10 may your Kingdom come;
may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today the food we need.
12 Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us.
13 Do not bring us to hard testing, but keep us safe from the Evil One."


The apostle Paul wrote to his fellow Christian worker Timothy:

1 Timothy chapter 3 (TEV)

1 This is a true saying: If a man is eager to be a church leader, he desires an excellent work. 2 A church leader must be without fault; ...

1 Timothy chapter 3 (NLT)

6 An elder must not be a new Christian, because he might be proud of being chosen so soon, and the Devil will use that pride to make him fall.


In the book of the Acts of the Apostles, which is about the first Christians, the Bible says:

Acts chapter 4 (TEV)

32 The group of believers was one in mind and heart. None of them said that any of their belongings were their own, but they all shared with one another everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God poured rich blessings on them all. 34 There was no one in the group who was in need. Those who owned fields or houses would sell them, bring the money received from the sale, 35 and turn it over to the apostles; and the money was distributed according to the needs of the people.

36 And so it was that Joseph, a Levite born in Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means "One who Encourages"), 37 sold a field he owned, brought the money, and turned it over to the apostles.

Acts chapter 5 (TEV)

1 But there was a man named Ananias, who with his wife Sapphira sold some property that belonged to them. 2 But with his wife's agreement he kept part of the money for himself and turned the rest over to the apostles.

3 Peter said to him, "Ananias, why did you let Satan take control of you and make you lie to the Holy Spirit by keeping part of the money you received for the property? 4 Before you sold the property, it belonged to you; and after you sold it, the money was yours. Why, then, did you decide to do such a thing? You have not lied to people-you have lied to God!"


The apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesian Christians:

Ephesians chapter 4 (TEV)

26 If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you into sin, and do not stay angry all day. 27 Don't give the Devil a chance.


In the Letter of James, the Bible says:

James chapter 4 (TEV)

5 Don't think that there is no truth in the scripture that says, "The spirit that God placed in us is filled with fierce desires." 6 But the grace that God gives is even stronger. As the scripture says, "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."

7 So then, submit yourselves to God. Resist the Devil, and he will run away from you. 8 Come near to God, and he will come near to you.


In The Book of Revelation, the Bible says:

Revelation chapter 1 (TEV)

1 This book is the record of the events that Jesus Christ revealed. God gave him this revelation in order to show to his servants what must happen very soon.

10 On the Lord's day the Spirit took control of me, and I heard a loud voice, that sounded like a trumpet, speaking behind me. 11 It said,
"Write down what you see, and send the book to the churches in these seven cities:

Revelation chapter 2 (CEV)

18 This is what you must write to the angel of the church in Thyatira:

I am the Son of God! My eyes are like flames of fire, and my feet are like bronze. Listen to what I say.
19 I know everything about you, including your love, your faith, your service, and how you have endured. I know that you are doing more now than you have ever done before.

20 But I still have something against you because of that woman Jezebel. She calls herself a prophet, and you let her teach and mislead my servants to do immoral things and to eat food offered to idols. 21 I gave her a chance to turn from her sins, but she did not want to stop doing these immoral things. 22 I am going to strike down Jezebel. Everyone who does these immoral things with her will also be punished, if they don't stop. 23 I will even kill her followers.
Then all the churches will see that I know everyone's thoughts and feelings. I will treat each of you as you deserve.

24 Some of you in Thyatira don't follow Jezebel's teaching. You don't know anything about what her followers call the "deep secrets of Satan." So I won't burden you down with any other commands.
25 But until I come, you must hold firmly to the teaching you have.

26 I will give power over the nations to everyone who wins the victory and keeps on obeying me until the end. 27-28 I will give each of them the same power that my Father has given me.


In The apostle Paul's first letter to the Corinthian Christians in the New Testament, he wrote:

1 Corinthians chapter 7 (NLT)

1 Now about the questions you asked in your letter. Yes, it is good to live a celibate life. 2 But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. 3 The husband should not deprive his wife of sexual intimacy, which is her right as a married woman, nor should the wife deprive her husband. 4 The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband also gives authority over his body to his wife. 5 So do not deprive each other of sexual relations.
The only exception to this rule would be the agreement of both husband and wife to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time, so they can give themselves more completely to prayer. Afterward they should come together again so that Satan won't be able to tempt them because of their lack of self-control.

6 This is only my suggestion. It's not meant to be an absolute rule. 7 I wish everyone could get along without marrying, just as I do. But we are not all the same.

1 Corinthians chapter 5 (NLT)

1 I can hardly believe the report about the sexual immorality going on among you, something so evil that even the pagans don't do it. I am told that you have a man in your church who is living in sin with his father's wife. 2 And you are so proud of yourselves! Why aren't you mourning in sorrow and shame? And why haven't you removed this man from your fellowship?

3 Even though I am not there with you in person, I am with you in the Spirit. Concerning the one who has done this, I have already passed judgment 4 in the name of the Lord Jesus. You are to call a meeting of the church, and I will be there in spirit, and the power of the Lord Jesus will be with you as you meet. 5 Then you must cast this man out of the church and into Satan's hands, so that his sinful nature will be destroyed and he himself will be saved when the Lord returns.

6 How terrible that you should boast about your spirituality, and yet you let this sort of thing go on. Don't you realize that if even one person is allowed to go on sinning, soon all will be affected? 7 Remove this wicked person from among you so that you can stay pure.


In his Second Letter to the Corinthian Christians in the New Testament, Paul wrote:

2 Corinthians chapter 2 (NIV)

4 I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.
5 If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you, to some extent--not to put it too severely. 6 The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. 7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.
9 The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. 10 If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven--if there was anything to forgive--I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

1 Timothy chapter 1 (TEV)

19 Keep your faith and a clear conscience.
Some people have not listened to their conscience and have made a ruin of their faith. 20 Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have punished by handing them over to the power of Satan; this will teach them to stop their blasphemy.


In his Second Letter to the Corinthian Christians in the New Testament, Paul wrote:

2 Corinthians chapter 12 (GWT)

2 I know a follower of Christ who was snatched away to the third heaven fourteen years ago. I don't know whether this happened to him physically or spiritually. Only God knows.
3 I know that this person 4 was snatched away to paradise where he heard things that can't be expressed in words, things that humans cannot put into words. [Again,] I don't know whether this happened to him physically or spiritually. Only God knows.

7 ... Therefore, to keep me from becoming conceited, I am forced to deal with a recurring problem. That problem, Satan's messenger, torments me to keep me from being conceited.
8 I begged the Lord three times to take it away from me. 9 But he told me: "My kindness is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak."
10 Therefore, I accept weakness, mistreatment, hardship, persecution, and difficulties suffered for Christ. It's clear that when I'm weak, I'm strong.


In the Letter of James in the New Testament, the Bible says:

James chapter 3 (GWT)

13 Do any of you have wisdom and insight? Show this by living the right way with the humility that comes from wisdom.
14 But if you are bitterly jealous and filled with self-centered ambition, don't brag. Don't say that you are wise when it isn't true. 15 That kind of wisdom doesn't come from above. It belongs to this world. It is self-centered and demonic. 16 Wherever there is jealousy and rivalry, there is disorder and every kind of evil.


In Paul's letter to the Ephesian Christians in the New Testament, the Bible says:

Ephesians chapter 2 (NLT)

1 Once you were dead, doomed forever because of your many sins. 2 You used to live just like the rest of the world, full of sin, obeying Satan, the mighty prince of the power of the air. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passions and desires of our evil nature. We were born with an evil nature, and we were under God's anger just like everyone else.

4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so very much, 5 that even while we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God's special favor that you have been saved!)


In the First Letter of John in the New Testament, the Bible says:

1 John chapter 5 (NLT)

18 We know that those who have become part of God's family do not make a practice of sinning, for God's Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot get his hands on them. 19 We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the power and control of the evil one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we are in God because we are in his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life. 21 Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God's place in your hearts.

1 John chapter 3 (GWT)

1 Consider this: The Father has given us his love. He loves us so much that we are actually called God's dear children. And that's what we are.
For this reason the world doesn't recognize us, and it didn't recognize him either.

2 Dear friends, now we are God's children. What we will be isn't completely clear yet. We do know that when Christ appears we will be like him because we will see him as he is. 3 So all people who have this confidence in Christ keep themselves pure, as Christ is pure.

4 Those who live sinful lives are disobeying God. Sin is disobedience. 5 You know that Christ appeared in order to take away our sins. He isn't sinful. 6 Those who live in Christ don't go on sinning. Those who go on sinning haven't seen or known Christ. 7 Dear children, don't let anyone deceive you. Whoever does what God approves of has God's approval as Christ has God's approval. 8 The person who lives a sinful life belongs to the devil, because the devil has been committing sin since the beginning. The reason that the Son of God appeared was to destroy what the devil does. 9 Those who have been born from God don't live sinful lives. What God has said lives in them, and they can't live sinful lives. They have been born from God.

10 This is the way God's children are distinguished from the devil's children. Everyone who doesn't do what is right or love other believers isn't God's child.


The gospels of Luke and John in the New Testament, describing events that they say happened in the days before Jesus died, say:

Luke chapter 22 (NLT)

1 The Festival of Unleavened Bread, which begins with the Passover celebration, was drawing near. 2 The leading priests and teachers of religious law were actively plotting Jesus' murder. But they wanted to kill him without starting a riot, a possibility they greatly feared.

3 Then Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve disciples, 4 and he went over to the leading priests and captains of the Temple guard to discuss the best way to betray Jesus to them. 5 They were delighted that he was ready to help them, and they promised him a reward. 6 So he began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus so they could arrest him quietly when the crowds weren't around.

John chapter 13 (TEV)

1 It was now the day before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. He had always loved those in the world who were his own, and he loved them to the very end.

2 Jesus and his disciples were at supper. The Devil had already put into the heart of Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, the thought of betraying Jesus.

Luke chapter 22 (GWT)

19 Jesus took bread and spoke a prayer of thanksgiving. He broke the bread, gave it to them, and said, "This is my body, which is given up for you. Do this to remember me." 20 When supper was over, he did the same with the cup. He said, "This cup that is poured out for you is the new promise made with my blood."

21 "The hand of the one who will betray me is with me on the table. 22 The Son of Man is going to die the way it has been planned for him. But how horrible it will be for that person who betrays him."

John chapter 13 (NLT)

22 The disciples looked at each other, wondering whom he could mean. 23 One of Jesus' disciples, the one Jesus loved, was sitting next to Jesus at the table. 24 Simon Peter motioned to him to ask who would do this terrible thing. 25 Leaning toward Jesus, he asked, "Lord, who is it?"
26 Jesus said, "It is the one to whom I give the bread dipped in the sauce."
And when he had dipped it, he gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot.

27 As soon as Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him. Then Jesus told him, "Hurry. Do it now."

28 None of the others at the table knew what Jesus meant. 29 Since Judas was their treasurer, some thought Jesus was telling him to go and pay for the food or to give some money to the poor.
30 So Judas left at once, going out into the night.

Luke chapter 22 (GWT)

31 [Then the Lord said,] "Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to have you apostles for himself. He wants to separate you from me as a farmer separates wheat from husks. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. So when you recover, strengthen the other disciples."

33 But Peter said to him, "Lord, I'm ready to go to prison with you and to die with you."

34 Jesus replied, "Peter, I can guarantee that the rooster won't crow tonight until you say three times that you don't know me."


John chapter 17 (NLT)

1 Jesus ... looked up to heaven and said, "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. 2 For you have given him authority over everyone in all the earth. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. 3 And this is the way to have eternal life - to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. 4 I brought glory to you here on earth by doing everything you told me to do. 5 And now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.

6 "I have told these men about you. They were in the world, but then you gave them to me. Actually, they were always yours, and you gave them to me; and they have kept your word.

13 "And now I am coming to you. I have told them many things while I was with them so they would be filled with my joy. 14 I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not. 15 I'm not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They are not part of this world any more than I am.

17 Make them pure and holy by teaching them your words of truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world."


The apostle Paul wrote in his "letters to the Thessalonians" in the New Testament, which he wrote to new Christians who'd been converted after he'd visited them and preached to them:

1 Thessalonians chapter 2 (NIV)

13 We thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.

14 For you, brothers, became imitators of God's churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, 15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men 16 in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.

17 But, brothers, when we were torn away from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. 18 For we wanted to come to you--certainly I, Paul, did, again and again--but Satan stopped us.
19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20 Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

1 Thessalonians chapter 3 (NIV)

1 So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. 2 We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God's fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, 3 so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them. 4 In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. 5 For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you [presumably to fall away from the Christian faith) and our efforts might have been useless.

6 But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love.

2 Thessalonians chapter 3 (TEV)

1 Finally, our friends, pray for us that the Lord's message may continue to spread rapidly and be received with honor, just as it was among you.
2 Pray also that God will rescue us from wicked and evil people; for not everyone believes the message.
3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and keep you safe from the Evil One.
4 And the Lord gives us confidence in you, and we are sure that you are doing and will continue to do what we tell you.
5 May the Lord lead you into a greater understanding of God's love and the endurance that is given by Christ.


In the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, the Bible says that the apostle Paul said:

Acts chapter 26 (TEV)

9 "I myself thought that I should do everything I could against the cause of Jesus of Nazareth [before I was converted to follow him]. 10 That is what I did in Jerusalem. I received authority from the chief priests and put many of God's people in prison; and when they were sentenced to death, I also voted against them. 11 Many times I had them punished in the synagogues and tried to make them deny their faith. I was so furious with them that I even went to foreign cities to persecute them.

12 "It was for this purpose that I went to Damascus with authority and orders from the chief priests. 13 It was on the road at midday that I saw a light much brighter than the sun, coming from the sky and shining around me and the men traveling with me. 14 All of us fell to the ground, and I heard a voice say to me in Hebrew, "Saul, Saul! Why are you persecuting me? You are hurting yourself by hitting back, like an ox kicking against its owner's stick.'

15 "Who are you, Lord?' I asked.

And the Lord answered,
"I am Jesus, whom you persecute.
16 But get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant. You are to tell others what you have seen of me today and what I will show you in the future. 17 I will rescue you from the people of Israel and from the Gentiles to whom I will send you. 18 You are to open their eyes and turn them from the darkness to the light and from the power of Satan to God, so that through their faith in me they will have their sins forgiven and receive their place among God's chosen people.'

19 "And so I did not disobey the vision I had from heaven.


Why It's Best Not to Assume the Cause of Something is Spirits or Satan or God, And Some Natural Explanations for Things Some Think Are Caused by Spirits or God

The main Bible pages on this site:

Bible Bible Part 1: Bible Quotations, The Holy Spirit, People And Their Stories
Bible Part 2: The Lives and Suffering of the Ancient Israelites
Bible Part 3: The Bible, Articles About Alleged Inaccuracies in it, And Stories of People who Became Christians.
Or go directly to the next in the series: What the Bible Says About How Sin Was Brought Into The World Through Deception, Its Ultimate Consequences, And How Satan And Spirits Can Cause Ignorance Or Deception About Christianity.

The selections of Bible quotations have been put together by Diana Holbourn.

Throughout this series, wherever the initials TEV appear, they stand for Today's English Version (The Good News Bible).

Other initials:

Warning Against Believing Everything you Hear or Read

Don't be afraid to question the truth of what a religious authority figure tells you, or even the Bible or other holy books themselves, or certain people's interpretation of them. Nothing to do with religion or the supernatural is so well established in fact it shouldn't be questioned. To find out why caution is a good idea, visit:

The Beauty of the New Testament's Moral Teaching and Other Important Pages on this Website

Are you up to trying the challenges of the New Testament's moral guidelines, and would you like to know more of what it says about the love of Jesus? Here are some links to Bible quotes about the beautiful ideals the New Testament encourages Christians to try to live up to:


There are a lot of pages on this website with quotations from the Old Testament on them. Many of these are unfortunately rather gruesome, since the main theme of the Old Testament is warnings and stories about how it says societies were punished for mass lawless and hurtful behaviour, even to the extent of having war brought on them by God, that seem to have been designed to scare societies where crime and violence were rampant into behaving more ethically. In case there is any misunderstanding, it should be understood that this website does not endorse war as anything other than a last resort. The position of the website owner can be gleaned from the articles:


Fancy some light relief or laughter therapy? Then go to the first of our jokes pages:


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