Posted by: Brad Beaman | April 9, 2010

Temptation

It doesn’t get more practical than how to respond to temptation. You will be tempted you can be sure of that. It is helpful to look at how Jesus was tempted and how Jesus responded in developing a strategy of resisting temptation. 

One of the first things that Mark tells us about in his Gospel is the temptation of Jesus. First he mentions John the Baptist who prepares the way for Jesus. Then he tells us Jesus was baptized by John and then he says that after the baptism immediately, at once Jesus is sent to the desert by the Holy Spirit.   

Mark 1:12-13 (New International Version)

 12At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, 13and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

 

Mark does not tell us much about Jesus temptation as does Matthew and Luke. It may be the reason is because the temptation brings out Jesus humanity. Mark does not need to elaborate on this with his primarily gentile audience. Mark focuses on Jesus deity in his gospel. 

Jesus temptation and His victory over temptation are practical for us because we are so often ourselves tempted.

The first Adam was defeated in temptation. Jesus is the second Adam and he is victorious over temptation. We have a savior who can identify with our temptations.

Hebrews 4:15 (NIV)

15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.

 As believers we have Jesus within us and this is our source of victory. God wants you to have victory over temptation. Temptation comes at our weakest point and at our weakest moment. That weakness may differ from person to person. One failure can spoil a lifetime of Christian witness.

 Jesus temptation came after forty days of fasting in the wilderness. It is important to know that temptation itself is not sin. Jesus public baptism is followed by a private time of temptation.

Look at the account in Matthew Chapter 4

Matthew 4:1-11 (NIV)

The Temptation of Jesus

 1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

 4Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ 

 5Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
   ” ‘He will command his angels concerning you,
      and they will lift you up in their hands,
   so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’

 7Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’

 8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

 10Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’

 11Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

 

Temptation of Materialism

There is the temptation of materialism. Turn the stone to bread. When Jesus went to the desert to be tempted He was filled with the Holy Spirit who ascended on him like a dove. The Holy Spirit led him there to be tested. It was “the tempter” the devil, Satan who tempted him.   

After forty days of fasting the devil said, “Turn these stones into bread.” Jesus was undoubtedly intensely hungry. At first glance we wonder what is even the problem of turning the stones into bread. Jesus uses his miraculous powers to fee the 5,000 when they were hungry. Why not for himself?

God would provide in his way.  Jesus must give unquestioning obedience to God’s plan. The devil often tempts us with the offer of materialism. You need this possession. You should not be without this there is no need to wait. You have a credit card in your pocket. It seems like a sweet offer. Satan never mentions the consequences. For Jesus to deviate from God’s plan was to derail his mission on the cross. The one who obtains possessions ahead of God’s timing will see financial ruin. Credit card charges over 18 percent interest.

Jesus uses scripture; “Man does not live by bread alone” For followers of Jesus material things must not be foremost. We are soldiers of a spiritual army. We should put God’s will before our material desires.

 The Temptation of Selfish Ambition.

Jesus to jump off the Pinnacle. The devil tempted Jesus to make an impressive public display announcing his kingship. Jesus defense was scripture before. So the devil used scripture or rather misused scripture. The devil left out the parts of scripture that did not suit his purpose. 

Psalm 91 on protection. Luring Jesus to force God’s hand to action on his behalf. Jumping off would be presumption not faith. Devil wants Jesus to demand ‘proof” from God. Jesus lives a life of faith that needs no proof. His is a life of trust that needs no test. Jesus would not become king by a spectacular display.

Jesus again resisted temptation with scripture.   “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” No matter how good the temptation looks we must resist.

The Temptation of Power

The devil says the cities and kingdoms of the world are yours if you just worship me. Temptation to join forces with evil to help a heavenly cause. Jesus would establish his kingdom by a cross, not political power or military might.

There is the temptation that if you just compromise your values, then with the results you can do so much to help God. Don’t believe the devils lie. The sin will destroy you and you will accomplish nothing for God.

Jesus response, “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.” Jesus resisted the devil left him. We need people who can resist temptation. These are the only ones who can impact a crooked society that needs the values of Jesus Christ. The only way to be salt and light to the people who need the savior.

If you have already lost in the battle of temptation then ask Jesus for forgiveness. Led by the Spirit you can commit afresh and resolve not to sin. God has a plan and a purpose for your life. Let Jesus who won the victory live through you and make you victorious.

Martin Luther said, “When the devil knocks on the door of my heart and says who lives here Jesus says, Martin Luther used to live here but I do now.

Does Jesus live in your heart? Jesus tempted more than any of us and remained sinless. Satan could not derail his mission. Jesus died on the cross the just for the unjust to bring us to God.

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