Sunday, March 11, 2012

Our Common Struggle

Temptation a blessing?
A word about temptation: Every conquering temptation represents a new fund of moral energy. Every trial endured and weathered in the right spirit makes a soul nobler and stronger than it was before (William Butler Yeats).

And then Paul had this to say: 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. I Corinthians 10: 13

Jesus tempted by Satan
In Matthew 4: 1-11, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, sustained a direct, frontal assault from Satan. His aim? To do anything and everything to stop, disrupt, or even destroy God’s redemptive plan.

He succeeded in the garden with the first Adam; now he hoped to achieve a similar victory over Christ, the second Adam.

This temptation was real. This was not a game like the games I played with my kids. When they were younger we often played a game of basketball where I would give them an eight point advantage in a ten point game. No matter how they tried they couldn’t beat me, even with an eight point lead.

For Jesus, this was intense, human suffering. The outcome was not predetermined. It would be a mistake to say that his temptation was a harmless exchange between God and a lesser force. Satan tempted Jesus because he hoped to defeat him.

The fact that Jesus was tempted does not suggest moral failure. To be tempted does not equal sin. In every respect, Jesus was tempted as we are tempted, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

Here’s the beauty of Jesus’ temptation:
For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted (Hebrews 2:18).

Jesus has walked a mile in our shoes; he understands what we are going through. Even when we succumb to the devil’s traps, Jesus sympathizes and ministers rich grace and forgiveness to all who sin.

How to fight temptation
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV)

When tempted, follow James' instruction, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7)." This is what Jesus did, and we can do no better.

May the Lord grant us strength to resist the devil by Christ's word, his blood and our testimony of faith in Christ (Revelation 12:11).