Thursday, August 07, 2008

Just Say NO, Jesus!

Jesus understands what it is like to be tempted. Isn’t that great to know? In Matthew chapter four and Luke chapter 4 we read the accounts of His temptation in the wilderness. How exactly do the Gospel accounts show Christ’s temptations? John actually makes no mention of these temptations at all while Mark mentions it only briefly. Matthew and Luke mention the three specific temptations but they do so in a different order. How many temptations were there during the 40 day period? Jesus endured more than three temptations (Luke 4:2 implies that He was tempted throughout the 40 day period). It appears that the three specific temptations listed occurred at the end of the 40-days (Luke 4:2-3). But this was not the final time that Jesus dealt with temptation. As a human Jesus would endure temptation through His entire earthly life. The Bible says that when the 40 days in the wilderness was over, the Devil left Him until an opportune time (Luke 4:13; Matthew 16:21-23).

But what made these three temptations noteworthy is that they represented all that is in the world (1 John 2:15-17). The first temptation was in the area of the lust of the flesh as Satan told Jesus to tell the stone to become bread (Luke 4:3). The second temptation was in the area of the lust of the eyes as Satan showed Him all the kingdoms of the world (Luke 4:5). Temptation #3 was in the area of the pride of life (Luke 4:10). These temptations also give us some insight into the strategy of Satan. We learn that Satan often attacks when we are weak (Luke 4:2) and when we are alone (Luke 4:1). And most importantly we learn that Satan often uses Scripture out of context (Luke 4:10).

But why did Jesus, who was God in the flesh, have to endure temptation. What was the purpose of it? What did it accomplish? First, it proved that he was God and could not sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22; Hebrews 4:15; 1 John 3:5; Hebrews 7:26).

This does not mean that Christ can not understand temptation but rather that He endured it at the highest level possible. Think about it. Do you really believe that you have experienced all the fiery arrows of the Evil One? Of course we haven’t. Why? Because we give in too easily. Jesus never gave in. He endured the whole bag of tricks but never sinned. This allowed Him to become our High Priest. According to Hebrews 4:15-16, Jesus understands our weaknesses because He was tempted in all areas. As a result, we cam come boldly to Him when we are tempted and we will find mercy when we fail and grace to be able to resist.

But through His temptations, Jesus also provided an example for us in dealing with temptation. First, when we are tempted we should recite Scripture, just like Jesus did (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10). Jesus had Scripture memorized and quoted it out loud. Folks, listen, memorizing Scripture is our best defense (Psalm 119:11). Second, when we are tempted we should resist the devil verbally (Matthew 4:10). We must always remember, however, that rsisting begins with submitting to God (James 4:7). Finally, when we are tempted, we should run to God (Matthew 4:11; Hebrews 4:15-16; James 4:8).

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