“For 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. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” – Hebrews 4:15-16 [NIV]
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Temptation is something everyone has faced at one time or another. If anyone says they were never tempted by anything, I think it would be fair to be a bit distrustful of the individual. Even Jesus was tempted. I have lost track of the temptations I faced in the past few days. It seems when we are most vulnerable, Satan is always there lurking, waiting for us to break down. Jesus was fasting — He was hungry. I’ve gotten very little sleep this past week — I am tired. These types of scenarios are only a few of the ways Satan tries to sneak in the ideals that appear desirable.
It’s important to take a look at the cycle. The cycle begins with the temptation that Satan puts before us. If we are tempted and we falter, we have sinned. Sin leads to death per the Law; however, thanks to the grace of God, it does not end there. God gave us His only Son so that we are able to be redeemed. Only with God are we able to have redemption.
Some people have a problem with understanding temptation. I often hear people saying that they believed God was “testing” them. God does test us. He tests our faith in Him. However, temptations are different because they are evil. God has no part in evil. He may allow evil to persist for a period of time for a particular purpose (ex: transformation, glorification); however, He does not throw evil at us. He does put us through trials, not evil. Trials help to build up our faith. Temptations attempt to steer us away from following God’s Law.
It is important to know that as God allows us to be tempted by Satan, no one is being forced to sin. No one can say they had no other option. Jesus has proved that any temptation could be refused. Also important to note, is that Satan is very limited in what He is permitted to even use to tempt a person. Remember the story of Job. God did not bring evil upon Job, but He allowed Job to experience the evil that Satan brought. The entire time, God was in control. God knew what would happen. God did not allow Satan to snuff out Job. God never gives us more than we can handle. He knew what Job could handle.
God always provides a way out of every temptation. If we look at the temptations that Jesus faced in the desert, we discover that Satan used various human needs to tempt Jesus: the physical needs (hunger), the emotional needs (security), and the psychological needs (power). I think it’s important to remember that Jesus had supernatural powers, so when He was tempted, He had the option of making the choice to take things into His own hands. Even though He was fasting, and food would have been very tempting, He didn’t cave in to His desires. What was His secret?
If you read about the temptations Jesus faced in the desert (Matthew 4), you will find that with each temptation, He used Scripture to overcome a temptation. Scripture? Well we have that– so why are we not stopping at the temptation? We need to know Scripture. I am not saying we must necessarily memorize the Bible word-for-word; however, daily reading and Bible study allow for us to have God’s Word written on our hearts. We get to know His commands and the Holy Spirit does some miraculous things as well. I also think it’s important to mention prayer. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, more temptations came His way. His love of God’s Word and His continuous prayer kept Him strong to defend against any temptation that crossed His path.
Maybe temptations seem unable to be defeated. Perhaps our miscalculations of their strength allows us to falter. Lets not forget that Jesus never fell for a single temptation, and therefore was the only sinless human to walk the earth. We have a wonderful example, a great model for how to handle temptations in our own lives by looking at His life. Scripture and prayer are both important. I like to say I wear the “Armor of God.” If you have read Ephesians 6 before, you would know that the armor includes the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the sandals of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Don’t ever think something can get the best of you. You are always under God’s protection– put on your armor.