Dealing with Temptations

Description

Satan does not tempt us merely to get us into trouble or to do wrong, but to distract us from God. Learn to stay focused on Him.

Matthew 4:1-11

Step 12: Having achieved success in spiritual growth and recovery, now seek how you can continue your success.

Jesus Himself dealt with temptations and He will empower you to move on from them. Jesus was led out into the desert to be tempted by Satan, with the destiny of His creation and humanity at stake. During this time, He fasted and remained true and loyal to who He was and to His coming mission. Satan pulled out all of his efforts and abilities in a futile attempt to convince Jesus to serve him. In doing so, he promised Jesus greater honor and glory faster by having more control. The problem is that Jesus was already fully God, thus had total sovereignty, glory and control. Satan based his attack on what he thought would be Jesus' greatest weakness, His humanity. However, Satan failed, as Christ, using His humanity and not His divinity as identification and model for us, defeated Satan's attack through Scripture, the Spirit, prayer and obedience.

  • Immediately following His baptism by John (John 1:29) and just before the start of His public ministry, Jesus was hammered! (Matt. 3:13-17; 4:12-17) The Spirit leads Jesus to this "challenge" after He endorses Him at the baptism, to go to the wilderness of Judea, a desolate place (Luke 3:22). Jesus fasted and was tempted for forty days, as were Moses and Elijah before Him (Ex. 34:28; 1 Kings 19:8; Luke 4:2). Whenever we receive the Spirit or achieve advancements in our spiritual life and recovery, we will be targets of opportunity! But we can prevail by following Jesus' example and empowerment! Satan will come and try to attack us with all he has. He will use everything he can to convince us we have made a mistake and we need to turn to ourselves or a substitute other than our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
  • Satan's chief job is to try to rob us of what God gives; but we have the power to stop him! This passage is a parallel to the forty years of testing of the nation of Israel in the desert (Num. 14:34; Duet. 4:4; 7; 10; 6:13-16; 8:3). These quotes from Deuteronomy were commands God gave Israel during their 40-year desert experience where He tested and prepared them for the nation they could and would become.
  • Here, Jesus is the representative of Israel! In addition, He overcame it in our place as our representative and example! This is a great comfort to us, because He overcame with the power and ability we have, thus, we too can overcome tribulations and temptations, even from Satan himself (Heb. 2:18; 4:14-16; 12:2-3)!
  • Take heart, Jesus understands us and what we go through; therefore, we can never say, "but, but, you do not understand." We can overcome our dependency or addiction and remain sober when we yield to His truth, example, strength and faith!
  • Satan thought he "had" Jesus and attacked Him at the classic place of weakness in humanity. The first temptation is Satan's appeal to the lust of the flesh, as being without food for forty days, Jesus must have been very hungry! He challenged Jesus' identity to break His obedience and satisfy His fleshly hunger. Jesus responds with Scripture, quoting Deut. 8:3, "Man shall not live by bread alone." We need to be dependent upon the Lord and the Word to help us fulfill physical needs.
  • In the second temptation, Satan appeals to pride (5-7). He again challenges Jesus' identity and sets Jesus on the pinnacle of the temple, telling Him to throw Yourself down. Jesus responds again with the Word, quoting Psalm 91:11-12 and Deut. 6:16. Satan also uses Scripture, but he abuses it by taking it out of its context and twisting it to serve his purpose and not God's. When we misuse Scripture, we are modeling ourselves after Satan! Furthermore, we should never even consider testing God!
  • The third temptation had Satan appealing to the lust of power by taking Jesus to a high mountain and showing Him the kingdoms of the world. Then Satan offered to give them to Him if Jesus would worship him (8-10). Jesus again responds with Scripture, quoting Deut. 6:13, "you shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve." Jesus does not take the easy path or a shortcut to power over the nations (Rev. 2:26-27; 3:21).
  • The temptations ended, and our Lord was victorious without caving to sin! Angels came and ministered to Jesus. It is not mentioned what they did. However, we can assume they gave Him food.
  • You can call this "temptation, round one," because more confrontations were to come, climaxing with Satan's defeat on the cross (Luke 4:13; Matt. 16:21-23). We share the same adversary and the same temptations! As Satan and the woes of life tempted Jesus, we are also tempted. (1 Pet. 5:8-9) He faced temptations such as immorality, materialism and pride (1 John 2:15-16). After Satan's humiliating defeat, he turned his interest towards the faith-struggling disciples and then the Church (Rev. 12:17).
  • We have the same ability to overcome as Jesus had! What He did on the cross pulls the synergistic combination of the Holy Spirit working in us and the Word. Well, you need not worry about the devil as much as you need to worry about and act on your character!
  • We have the same tools to overcome Satan and temptations in general. Remember, Satan has been defeated! We even have authority and ability to repel Satan by the blood of the Cross. However, we must never take him lightly, for spiritual warfare and our conflict with him is very real (Eph. 6:12)!
  • Jesus used the Word of God and prayer as both offensive and defensive weapons and so can we (Mt 26:41; Eph. 6:17).
  • Jesus was focused on God's plan, as we must be with our faith, trust and then obedience to it in the plan of God (Eph. 6:16; Heb. 10:35-39).
  • The Bible, our faith and prayer pack a three-prong attack and defense from which Satan does not have a chance!
  • Jesus was taken care of by angels. We will be also, even though we may never be aware of it (Luke 16:22)! We have hope and a place in eternity to keep in mind (Rev. 2:10,26-27; 3:21).

For us today, we can learn that we can trust and rely on our Lord. Material things will not satisfy us. Maybe they will for a while, but all we will have is a longing for more, never satisfied. True spiritual nourishment comes from God's Word and our spiritual growth through worship, service and prayer. When we abuse the Bible, we are behaving like Satan! When we use it well, we are modeling Christ (2 Pet. 3:16).

Satan does not tempt us just to get us into trouble or to do wrong, but to distract us from God. Satan seeks to get us to lose what God has given or has to offer. In doing so, we are of no use to God because we have bought the lie. Our outlook has gone from truth to fiction, from betterment for others and ourselves to causing harm! The way to spiritual maturity and the glory of our reward is not in finding shortcuts, but temperance through learning, experience and overcoming adversities. It is a long and difficult process (Acts 14:22; Rom. 2:7)

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