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Help in Temptation

Description

Experiencing temptation is not the same thing as yielding to it. It's because Jesus Himself was tempted that He can help us when we are.

‘For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.’ (Hebrews 4:15-16)

If someone tells you that they are never tempted, feel free to be skeptical! For the Bible tells us that temptation is something we all experience, no matter how mature a Christian we might be. Even Jesus himself was tempted (despite being God’s Son and having all the resources of heaven at his disposal); so it is even more likely that we ourselves will be.

Right at the start of his ministry, having just been baptized in water and filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus experienced a profound period of temptation in the wilderness for over forty days. The New Testament tells us that it was the Holy Spirit himself who led Jesus there (which in itself shows that, while the devil means temptation for our harm, God can use it for our good). Despite day after day of temptation, Jesus stood firm, however. Not once did he respond to the temptation; not once did he entertain it or linger over it or say ‘yes’ to it. Through it all, he remained sinless by finding strength in God to resist it.

We need to remember that experiencing temptation is not the same thing as yielding to it. As the saying goes: ‘You can’t stop crows from flying over your head, but you can stop them from making nests in your hair.’ In other words, it’s not experiencing temptation that is wrong (for we can’t stop it happening), but rather responding to it. This is important, for the devil often tries to make us believe that even experiencing temptation is sinful (how can it be? – Jesus experienced it!) in the hope that we will become despondent and so turn the thought into practice anyway. 

It is because Jesus himself was tempted that he really can help us when we are tempted. We simply need to ask him to keep his promise!

‘And now that Jesus has suffered and was tempted, he can help anyone else who is tempted.’ (Hebrews 2:18, CEV)

Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont

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