Temptations are one of the biggest battles that a Christian will face. Regardless of who you are or where you come from, this much is true. However, what counts is whether you give into these temptations or you persevere through them. However, we must understand that in order to persevere, we must be strengthened by God. Alone, it is not possible, but through Him all things are possible.
When we look at temptation in a larger context, we see how dangerous it can be. Even our Lord Jesus Christ was tempted. The passage is found in Matthew 4:1-11 (ESV) and reads;
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”
Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
There are several things that jump out at me when I read this passage. The first being is this; The Holy Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness so that He may be tempted. Here it seems like Jesus is being tempted by God to do evil, but that is not the case. In this context God isn’t tempting Jesus, but rather testing Him. Through the devil’s evil intentions, God’s plan is being fulfilled and Christ’s role as the Savior is strengthened. This shows that just because evil is occurring around us, doesn’t mean that God is evil. Everything comes to pass for a reason, and we must understand that His ways are greater than our own.
The next portion of the text deals with food. Jesus went forty days and nights without eating. He did this to fast and focus on prayer. This is the longest time a person can go without eating without causing serious damage to their body. Still, forty days and nights is a very long time. And while He was spiritually strong from fasting, He was also physically weak from hunger. And at that point of weakness, the enemy came to tempt Him. Satan knew that Jesus was the Son of God and knew He had the power to make bread out of stones. Throughout Scripture, we see Jesus performing miracles similar to that. However, just as Jesus was 100% God, He was also 100% man. He knew that in order for Him to fulfill His role as the Savior, He couldn’t use His divine power to make the test easier, and so He refuses to give into the tempter and responds with Scripture.
The enemy then took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple and urged Him to throw Himself down, which was about 300 feet. He then quoted Scripture saying that the Angels were His to command and wouldn’t let Him be harmed. However, this is a misread text that Satan tries to twist for his own desires. If you have been following the blog for a while, you might have seen a series titled Misread Texts. James does a great job analyzing the true meanings of various passages of Scripture that are often taken out of context. If you haven’t read any of them, I highly encourage you to. But this shows that even the Word of God can be, has been, and will be used by other people in wrongful ways. That is why it is important for Christians to read Scripture and understand the true meaning of it. Jesus responds to the devil with Scripture again.
The final temptation of Jesus is when Satan shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. He offers it in return for having Jesus worship him. At this point I picture Jesus just being annoyed at Satan. He commands the enemy to leave and again quotes Scripture. The only being that we should worship is the Lord our God. We, who are the Elect and have been called by God, shall only serve our Creator. When Jesus says this, Satan finally leaves. When I read this, the thing that stands out to me the most is this: Even all the kingdoms in the world combined couldn’t compete to the Glory of God. From the might of Rome to the British Empire to modern day countries like America, nothing can compete with His glory.
During basic training, there were times of temptation. While I didn’t necessarily want to quit, there were others that did. Some pulled through and passed whereas others gave in. These people who quit were called RTTs (Refusal to Train). And though they quit training, they stayed with us until the end. They couldn’t leave until around the same time when everyone else graduated. They continued to sleep in our bays (Where we lived) and eat with us in the DFAC. When we trained, they did stuff like filling sandbags. For them, not participating in the difficult parts of training was worth more than suffering until the end. They would rather be civilians than soldiers.
The same goes for the Christian life. Christians go through life and see other non-believers having the time of their lives. They don’t have to follow these rules and commandments like we do, and Christians are tempted by that. Heck, I am especially tempted by some of those things. However, it’s how we respond to those temptations that really shows us where our hearts lie. Do we give intoSatann? Do we choose the easier life because it’s what everyone else is doing and because it’s fun? Or do we persevere through the tough, difficult, and challenging parts of our Christian walk in order to have a better eternal life?
When it comes to temptations, the most reassuring verse is found in 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV);
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.“
We will be tempted by various things. When we are put to the test, I urge you to look to God’s perfect example. The strength that is required to overcome these things won’t come from you. God is true to His Word and He promises that we won’t be tempted beyond our abilities. But more than that, He provides a way of escape from temptation. I urge you to evaluate your Christian life. Reflect on what I have said and if you see anything that needs changing or fixing, than do so. May we all look to God for the strength to overcome any temptation that comes our way.
Soli Deo Gloria.