Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 21 Number 1 January 2019
Page 7

What Jesus Teaches
Us about Temptation

Whenever we make up our minds to do the right thing, there will always be temptations to compromise and go in the wrong direction. It sometimes seems as if the moment someone decides to go on a diet, there will be advertisements for that person’s favorite, unhealthy meal displayed everywhere. When a young person chooses to walk in the light and remove bad influences from his or her life, those old friends will call and text with more fervor and frequency than ever before. The Book of James assures us that the temptation we face does not come from God (1:13). Furthermore, every person is tempted, and temptation occurs when our passions and lusts are not properly addressed (James 1:14). If our temptation is not properly addressed, it will lead to sin, and our sin will lead to spiritual death (James 1:15). Thankfully, we are not left to ourselves as to how we need to approach temptation. Jesus was tempted in every way we are, and He overcame temptation without committing a sin (Hebrews 4:15). The more we can study the way the devil approached Jesus and how He defeated those temptations, the better equipped we will be to overcome temptation in our own lives.

Properly Managing Our Diet

After Jesus had fasted for forty days and forty nights, the devil approached him, knowing that He was hungry (Matthew 4:1-2). He challenged Jesus’ identity by saying, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread” (Matthew 4:3). Jesus informed Satan that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4; Deuteronomy 8:3). Jesus was not going to use His miraculous ability as the Son of God for His own selfish advantage (Matthew 3:17). Unlike the children of Israel, who allowed hunger to frustrate them in the wilderness and led them to speak out against God, Jesus was master of His appetite (Exodus 16:1-3). According to Jesus, the most important meal of the day is one’s intake of Scripture.

To overcome the temptations we will face, we must prioritize our Bible study and the need to feed on the Word of God. Jeremiah is said to have eaten God’s words (Jeremiah 15:16). The Psalmist claimed that God’s words were sweeter than honey to his lips (Psalm 119:103). It is not enough to read the Bible or even to study it deeply on certain occasions. We must see it as more necessary than our physical food (Job 23:12). Satan knows that he is no match for the Word of God and that if he can get us to put other things before the Bible, we will be more likely to give in to temptation. As much attention as we give to our diet concerning physical food, we need to give more detail to our diet concerning spiritual food.

Ezra prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord and to do it (Ezra 7:10). A heart unprepared to seek God’s Word will be unprepared for the temptations that will inevitably come. Jesus highlighted for us the need to use the Word of God when faced by temptation. Jesus responded to all three of Satan’s advances in the wilderness temptation by going back to what the Bible says. Managing our diet is a good way to defeat temptation that would otherwise slay us. The more Bible we know, the more we can know God’s will for our lives and respond correctly to those things that are inconsistent with God’s will.

Never Put God to the Test

Satan does not give up easily. Satan took Jesus to the pinnacle of the Temple and quoted Psalm 91:11-12 as justification for Jesus’ jumping off the Temple, expecting to be rescued by angels. While Psalm 91 does speak of God’s security and protection for His people, it is not meant to give God’s people a license to tempt Him and put His love to the test. Though the devil quoted Scripture, he did not handle the Word of Truth properly (2 Timothy 2:15). We should be careful not to use the Bible to justify our wrong behavior. More than knowing what a verse says, we must also strive to learn what a verse truly teaches in its context. Jesus responded by saying, “It is written, You will not tempt the Lord your God” (Matthew 4:7; Deuteronomy 6:16). Jesus knew that God should not be pushed and tempted. God will provide for His people, but God does not need to be tested.

Many times, Christians succumb to temptation because we want to test the boundaries. The Christian life is not about how close we can get to the edge of sin without actually giving in to it. We should try and stay as far away as we can from sin because we know the dangers of it (Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 6:23). God has promised to forgive all sins for which we repent, confess and forsake (Proverbs 28:13; Hebrews 8:12; 1 John 1:9). However, just because God is described as forgiving and loving, we must never use that as justification for sinning and jumping off of the pinnacles of life (Romans 6:1).

Temptation can be overcome. We must realize that we should not leap into sin and tempt God with the expectation that God will forgive us anyway. If we willfully engage in sin after coming to a knowledge of the truth and trample the blood of Jesus, there is no second sacrifice available to forgive our sins (Hebrews 10:26). If we appreciate the blessing of God’s forgiveness and His grace and realize that God is never to be put to the test, we will reject the advances of temptation more often. God is both good and severe (Romans 11:22). We must fight against the idea that we can do whatever we want, and God will be waiting on us with open arms. Jesus shows us that we have a responsibility to practice self-control and have a respect for God and His promise to protect us.

Only Worship God

The last thing Satan tried was to get Jesus to worship him in exchange for all the kingdoms of the world (Matthew 4:8-9). Satan is a liar and could never deliver such a promise as that (John 8:44). Moreover, Jesus is the owner of every kingdom in the world already (Colossians 1:15-17). Jesus said you will worship God and only serve Him (Matthew 4:10; Deuteronomy 6:13). If we want to overcome temptation, we must grab hold of this truth spoken by Jesus in the devil’s last-ditch effort to tempt Him. Only God is worthy of our worship and adoration. If we set our sights lower than that, the devil can buy us off fairly cheaply. As long as we focus on heavenly things and the beauty and glory of our God, Satan and temptation’s temporary pleasures are no match for our heavenly affections (Colossians 3:1-4; Hebrews 11:25). Jesus knew that all the things Satan promised Him were not worth surrendering the worship that only God deserves (John 4:23-24).

Conclusion

Adam was in the Garden surrounded by food, companionship and a great atmosphere, and yet he still gave in to temptation. Jesus was in a wilderness, alone, without food, and yet He was able to overcome temptation. We learn from this that one’s environment is not nearly as important as one’s resolve to please God and maintain a proper relationship with Him. It is not a sin to be tempted. We will face temptation. However, God provides a door of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). We simply need to look for it. May we mirror the life of Jesus and overcome the temptation that desperately wants to ensnare us (Hebrews 12:1-2).


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