Temptation. The meaning of the word has evolved in modern culture to include pleasures we should not deny ourselves. Saying things like, “I am tempted to take the day off” or “I am tempted to eat dessert” or “I am tempted to buy new clothes,” has changed temptation into a dare that must be met. Giving into temptation is something we do as a reward.
The danger of succumbing to temptation (although not in a Biblical sense) is seen clearly in the Star Wars saga with the invitation to “come to the dark side.” Contrast that with the many contemporary books, television shows, movies and advertisements that portrait temptation as indulging in deserved pleasure. This has served to undermine a true understanding of the seriousness of choosing to disobey God.
Satan, the deceiver, is very happy for us to ignore the reality and seriousness of temptation and resulting sin. Notice that in the beginning (Gen.3) Satan was in the garden tempting Adam and Eve. In Luke 4 we see Satan again, this time tempting Jesus at the very outset of His earthly ministry. If Satan would tempt the Son of God, he will tempt you. Satan wants to steal God’s glory and He seeks to sideline God’s children before they can they can be used to fulfill God’s plans. If you have made resolutions to pursue greater spiritual growth in 2016, and I hope you have, be prepared for the enemy to bring enticing temptations.
In tempting Jesus, Satan knew he was not dealing with a spiritually immature or weak-minded Christian. Satan’s three temptations of Jesus, parallel the temptations He used in the garden. He appealed to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.
When tempted, Adam failed. His disobedience resulted in disastrous consequences for all men and women. Jesus, the second Adam, prevailed! He was able to prevail because of His assurance that He was God’s Son (Luke 3:22), He was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1) and He trusted the written Word of God (He defeated Satan with three quotes from the book of Deuteronomy). We have the same help available to us! God, His Holy Spirit and His Holy Word!
Satan tempted Jesus to operate independently of God. He tempted Jesus to go with a plan other than God’s plan. He will tempt us to do the same. He tempted Jesus to take a short cut and have power and authority without the cross. Note that the power and authority which Satan offered was only temporary.
Finally, Satan tempted Jesus to avoid suffering. Satan knew that the obedience of Jesus, even unto death on the cross, meant defeat for Satan. More importantly, Jesus’ obedience means victory for all those who live by faith. How do we respond to temptation? There is a lot more to learn and practice but these two verses are a good place to start.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it (1 Cor. 10:13).
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin (Heb. 4:15).