Dealing with Temptation

We rarely order dessert when we go out to eat. Large serving sizes leave us incapable of digesting more food. However, there is usually a small display with full color pictures showcasing the kitchen’s confections. Many have given names to the after-dinner delights. When chocolate is the main ingredient, you will sometimes see the word temptation in the description. We understand the ramifications of indulging in a calorie packed, sugary cake or ice cream. Our waistline will suffer as a result. Yet, it is hard to resist the savory treat. While we have lightened the word, relegating it to eating a piece of cake, true temptation is powerful and dangerous.

In this week’s text, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. Luke records the culmination of a forty-day fast in which Satan tempts Jesus in three ways. On Sunday, we will discuss the intricacy of each temptation. Yet, all three temptations have a common theme. Satan is attempting to separate Jesus from the Father and Spirit. He questions Jesus’ role as the Son of God by steering him away from His calling. In each instance, Satan offers Jesus an alternative route.

Jesus’ willingness to experience temptation verifies his desire to identify with you and me. The author of Hebrews describes,

(Hebrews 4:15 NIV) 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.

But more than that, Jesus models for us how to handle temptation. Each of our temptations will be different. Satan knows our weaknesses and capitalizes on our inclinations to stray from God’s design. But we can draw from Jesus’ experience.

First of all, Jesus is Spirit-led and Spirit-empowered as he encounters temptation. Luke begins this story by telling us,

(Luke 4:1 NIV) Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert

We know that Jesus is filled with the Spirit of God. He is the Son of God. How could He not be filled with the Spirit? Yet, this is key to Luke’s description of Jesus’ temptations. Jesus is not operating in his own strength. Think about it, He has not had food for forty days. He must have been famished, mentally and physically drained. But Jesus does not find strength in the physical. He draws on the power of the Spirit as he battles the Evil One. It is easy to dismiss a Spirit-filled life as reserved for Jesus. Yet, you and I are promised strength that only comes through the power of the Spirit.

Secondly, Jesus responds to each temptation with Scripture. He retaliates with God’s Word in each case. Jesus’ knowledge and dependence on Scripture is primary. If Jesus, the Son of God, uses Scripture to battle temptation, so should we. If we are biblically illiterate, we are walking on thin ice in regards to temptation.

Join us on Sunday as we delve into this text. May we learn to appropriately respond to the temptations in our lives. May we look to Jesus as our model and guide.