I don’t know about you, but I’ve grown increasingly aware of something in our culture over the past few years. There is an almost hostile intolerance towards God, His Word, the church, and truth. You want to start a fight quickly on social media? Just post something about any one of the above mentioned list (OK, or politics), and just see where it goes. We live in a world that refuses accountability and rejects moral fences because of the endless and boundless pursuit of pleasure. We want what we want, and we want it now. And to add to that, we don’t want anyone telling us otherwise. We decide what is best for us, and there seem to be fewer and fewer people who welcome biblical insight, wisdom, and instruction from others as it relates to the decisions they make in life.
This leads me to the conversation of temptation. To begin, let’s agree on a few things: One, sin exists, and we all struggle with it. Every day, better yet, nearly every moment we are faced with some kind of temptation—the temptation of pride and self-exaltation, the temptation of pleasure, the temptation of greed, the temptation of fill in the blank. Two, temptation in and of itself is not sin. Jesus was tempted (Matthew 4, which we’ll get to in a moment), but Hebrews 4:15 tells us that although He was tempted in every way as we are, He remained “without sin”, which makes Him the sympathetic High Priest that He is for us (a blog post for another day). And three, the Bible has much to say about how we are to deal with temptation. In short, there is a better way to deal with temptation than perhaps we have taken.
Let’s start with Matthew 4, the well-known passage that details the temptation of Christ. Jesus was led out into the wilderness, went without food for forty days, and it was at this moment of His weakness that Satan came to Him and tempted Him. PAUSE: Isn’t also so true of our own stories? When we’re weak, Satan’s strikes. Therefore, we need to have a conviction about how we are going to respond when he tempts us. In our moments of strength, we need to have our battle plan in place.
Back to Jesus, our model and motivation for obedience and faithfulness in all things. He’s weak and alone, and the enemy strikes. Satan comes at Him with three separate temptations, each appealing to some part of His flesh and its desires, which is exactly how the enemy tempts us. And here’s the most important part of this passage: how Jesus responded each time. Don’t miss this, because this is our instruction, our road map, and lifeline in times of temptation.
Jesus responded to each temptation with the Word of God.
He didn’t try to be strong. He didn’t engage in an intellectual argument with Satan. He didn’t use His own willpower. He used Scripture.
So, how are you doing with temptation? We all face it, every single day. Are you feeling defeated by the temptation that comes your way? Or are you overcoming temptation with the truth of God’s Word? What I love about Matthew 4 is that it shows the utter humanity of Jesus Christ, how He chose to suffer as we suffer, but it also displays our ability to rise above temptation by simply using the tools He has given us to live in victory. The Word of God.
Overcoming temptation is not beyond any one of us. We simply must yield the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. So, are you in the Word? Do you know the Word? In the moment of temptation, do you have Scripture ready in your mind and in your heart to use against the enemy? My encouragement to you today is to get in it. Time spent in God’s Word will NEVER be time spent in vain. Retraining your mind with truth will always be life-giving and transforming. Get in it today, friends!