Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Bethany Bullet- March 3, 2009

Lead us not into Temptation.

It is interesting that this is exactly what happens to our Lord. Following His baptism Jesus was led, “driven, by the Spirit, into the desert to be tempted by Satan.” Certainly from experience He can assert the need to not be led, “driven” into temptation.

In a letter from James, the brother of Jesus, he asserts that God “leads no one into temptation.” Yet, we who are familiar with the accounts of Scripture and the great stories of the faith see God test His people over and over again.

A test and a temptation are two entirely different things.

  1. When God tests the faith of His children it is to strengthen and challenge that faith.
  2. However, when God’s enemies tempt the children of God it is to weaken their faith and to get it to waver. The enemies of the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh lack little opportunity to lead us into temptation.

Jesus, Himself, not only faced temptation from the sources of devil, flesh, and world but they were the temptations themselves.

  • The first temptation Christ faced was of the flesh. Of course, Jesus’ flesh was not fallen and sinful, yet it was a bodily temptation that Christ first faced. “Turn rocks into rye.” Generally we think of temptations of the flesh being of lust or gluttony, at times they are simply temptations of necessity. “Jesus, you need to eat, you’ve been without, so go ahead.” “Where is the sin in a sandwich?” This temptation was to break a vow, to end His fast and to do so by taking care of His bodily requirement. If you are in the habit of giving something up for Lent be prepared to be tempted to break your vow, and it won’t always be something salacious, lustful or gluttonous. It could be something you need and that is and of itself good, right and salutary but to attain it means to break a vow. Of course, even if you are not in the habit of giving up for Lent, your vows, promises, or your word to take care of yourself are at risk of being broken via temptations. Such temptations are common. Jesus resisted the temptation to care for self first and foremost.

  • The second temptation He faced was one of trust. “Go ahead and jump, hasn’t God promised His angels will catch you? You won’t so much as need a band-aid.” The real temptation in this was wondering if God His Father was still at His side. “Has God abandoned you already Jesus? Are you right now utterly alone?” Such temptations are common among us. We’ve heard him ask from the shadows, “Who could love you? Do you think you are worth His time? Has He left you all alone? Are you another “son” of God abandoned by the Father in a time of pain?” Jesus resisted the temptation to doubt God’s goodness.

  • The third temptation Jesus faced was one from the world. “Bow down and worship me and I’ll give you everything. You’re a king, right? Ought you to not have a kingdom?” Such temptations of the world are common, big gain for little cost, taking the cheap and easy way for wonderful rewards. Have you ever seen an infomercial which promised typical results with hard work, long hours and painful dedication? Jesus resisted the temptation to take the easy way out and leave God out altogether.

Jesus resisted temptation for us! Both to redeem us and leave us an example!

Jesus is the ONE child of God who goes from baptism through the journey of life and never once gives into temptation! He never yields to the dark and evil offerings of Satan or the seemingly benign offerings of the body. It was this pure and Holy Child of God who was sacrificed on the cross in our place, for we who have given into temptation over and over again. Yet, Jesus was also from His baptism, driven into the desert to be tempted to leave us an example. Through our journey, our “forty days/years,” from baptism till death we will face temptation, it’s common. How do we find strength to resist? The same way Christ did! Turn to the Word, “It is written.”

Temptation is so common, what an uncommon God, to defeat it for us and through us to His glory.


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