Godly Character – Temptation
As part of our quest to be people of Godly character, we will face obstacles. Obstacles are temptations. Temptations are not sin. They are circumstances that allow us to choose God and His way or not. If we choose God and His Way, we overcome the temptation. When we forge ahead on our own, we end up embroiled in sin.
Sin can be worldly in nature like greed, gossip, lying, cheating, etc. It can also be spiritual like choosing the world’s voice over listening to God’s Voice.
Once we become yoked with Jesus through rebirth, we are assailed with the spiritual temptations He faced. These temptations did not come to us prior to our rebirth because the Spirit was not part of our nature then. But once we choose to follow Jesus and are reborn, our new nature filled with Him will be tempted by the temptations He faced.
Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by the Devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when the time was up he was hungry.
The Devil, playing on his hunger, gave the first test: “Since you’re God’s Son, command this stone to turn into a loaf of bread.”
Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to really live.”
For the second test he led him up and spread out all the kingdoms of the earth on display at once. Then the Devil said, “They’re yours in all their splendor to serve your pleasure. I’m in charge of them all and can turn them over to whomever I wish. Worship me and they’re yours, the whole works.”
Jesus refused, again backing his refusal with Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God and only the Lord your God. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.”
For the third test the Devil took him to Jerusalem and put him on top of the Temple. He said, “If you are God’s Son, jump. It’s written, isn’t it, that ‘he has placed you in the care of angels to protect you; they will catch you; you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone’?”
“Yes,” said Jesus, “and it’s also written, ‘Don’t you dare tempt the Lord your God.’”
That completed the testing. The Devil retreated temporarily, lying in wait for another opportunity. Luke 4:1-13 MSG*
It is hard to imagine going 40 days without eating. But we can imagine that we would be weak, delirious, and probably in an extremely bad mood. In other words, we would not be at our human best – probably close to rock bottom.
Apparently towards the end of this 40-day period when Jesus was at his weakest, He was tempted with the greatest of temptations. The first of these final three was to use His power to comfort Himself and restore Himself to strength by turning a stone into bread. Then He was tempted to take control of the earth by a shortcut (not the cross) and provide Himself with every pleasure. Finally, the Devil basically said to him “I dare you to jump off this steeple because you know God will save you.” Jesus refused to “be right” and instead answered that He would not test the Lord God.
Jesus resisted the temptations by quoting Scripture from Deuteronomy. In His weakness, He relied on the Spirit to guide Him to the Word of God. He also resisted by refusing to focus on His own needs. Instead He looked to The Holy Spirit for help.
Just an obvious final note, Jesus resisted these temptations by recognizing the fact that He was being tempted. Sometimes, we Christians are oblivious. We are so focused on avoiding the obvious worldly sins that we fall right into the trap of the spiritual temptations that arise in our ordinary daily lives. We respond to these spiritual temptations by choosing comfort, shortcuts and testing God with our righteous attitudes.
Remember . . . Stay alert; be in prayer so you don’t wander into temptation without even knowing you’re in danger. There is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God. But there’s another part that’s as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.” Matthew 26:41 MSG*