Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'” Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him. [NRSA]
You can check it off your to-do list! We ALL understand temptation. We know what it means to want something that is not good for us, or not ours, something that is selfish. We all cross back and forth over the fence of what is right and wrong.
What does it mean to us for JESUS to be Tempted?
The SHORT answer is: “Knowing that Jesus has experienced what we experience means 1) we can identify with him; 2) we see how he deals with temptation, and 3) because he is faithful in over-coming temptation that he is our means hope in our struggles.
How was Jesus Tempted?
In Matthews remembering, he tells us several things about temptation:
1) It begins with small, daily, personal needs and ideas.
2) It has a social and community influence that our personal dealings with sin affect the community.
3) Also, that temptation is something we can expect to deal with all of our lives, everywhere we go.
Summary: Temptation is progressively more powerful, it effects self & others, its a problem with everyone, everywhere.
Temptation vs. Sin
Temptation is how we deal with the thoughts, plans, and attitudes that occur before our behaviors
As Methodist we have foundational [Articles of Religion] that have not changed since the beginning of the church. [I ask for your forgiveness for neglecting to teach them more often.]
Article VII — Of Original or Birth Sin “Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk), but it is the corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and of his own nature inclined to evil, and that continually.” [Sin is the corrupted nature of every person, we are broken off from the original relationship with God, righteousness, and are most likely to sin and to sin ongoing.]
Article IX — Of the Justification of Man “We are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by faith, only, is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort.” [Our only chance to be righteous, in full relationship with God, is through faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior: This is what it means to be made just or righteous, by God work through Christ and our trust in that work on our behalf.]
Article XII — Of Sin After Justification “Not every sin willingly committed after justification is the sin against the Holy Ghost, and unpardonable. Wherefore, the grant of repentance is not to be denied to such as fall into sin after justification. After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given, and fall into sin, and, by the grace of God, rise again and amend our lives. And therefore they are to be condemned who say they can no more sin as long as they live here; or deny the place of forgiveness to such as truly repent.” [ Sin is possible after we have given our trust and faith in Christ, as we test and are tempted to not trust in varying degrees; we need to recognize that affirming our faith is our continual response for all our days. ]
In summary of these three Articles:
• We are born in a broken and sinful world
• We are just as familiar and willing to sin as Adam and Eve were
• We are just a good at sinning even now that we have Christ as our hope and strength not to sin
• Jesus Continues to be our path to living in ways that are Godly, Righteous, in Right-Relationship with God.
• And that dealing with Sin and Temptation are a daily work of confession, rededication and renewing our trust in Christ.
So, we have this foundation along with all the assumptions that we know all about temptation, know how to tempt and how to successfully give into our temptations. SO WHAT?
Let’s look at temptation in a spatial example: If God is a point A, and standing her next to A I am as close to God as I can be, with my eyes, my heart, my mind, my attention, my focus, my everything devoted to God there are other things that I choose to distract, make room, compromise, or accept along with God.
Single lens / bi-focal / tri-focal glasses: I have multiple options, near by but different ones hold different objects in focus.
What are the core areas of responsibility for each of us?
a. We have our faith in God above all else – we must deal with the sin in our own eye before we look elsewhere.
b. We have our family, our household, our realm of influence or responsibility. – learn to look to God with family
c. We have the larger community in which we live and benefit. – learn to look to God with community.
d. We have the world — learn to look to God with the world.
No matter where our attention or responsibilities are directed our hearts, words, work, need to lead with our trust in God, our faith in Christ, our following in the direction of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus turns to scripture with every presentation of temptation as a context for prioritizing what is RIGHTEOUS, Good, Godly, in-right with God.
Jesus reminds himself:
• if I had every daily necessity met, I still would not have the heart of God.
• If I all the support, attention and help of everyone in the whole community, I would not have God.
• If I had the power, wealth, possession of the whole world, I would not have God.
Jesus beings in the Word,
• God is more than happiness of my body
• God is more than the acceptance or approval of other
• God is more than the powers and wealth of the whole world.
I Choose God. I choose God. I choose God.
The response to Temptation is to Choose God instead.
The power of scripture is the voice of God to guide our path, to remind us of grace, to open us to the holy Spirit, to connect us with the message of salvation, to retell the way of salvation, to remind us to love, serve, forgive and worship.
• “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” James 1:14-15.
• “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13.
• “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” Galatians 5:16-17.
• “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:4.
• “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Psalm 119:11.
• “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10-11.
• “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.” Psalm 119:9.
• “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Genesis 39:9.
• “I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman?” Job 31:1.
• “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15.
• “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:8.
• “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.” 1 Timothy 6:11.
• “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6.
• See the sin that you are tempted to as worthless, ugly, and unbearably sinful:
• “Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience.” Colossians 3:6.
• “You who love the Lord, hate evil! He preserves the souls of His saints; He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 97:10.
• “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7.
• “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written, you shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” Matthew 4:10.
• “… For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.” Hebrews 2:14-18.
• “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13.
• “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.” Romans 6:11-12.
• “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20.
• “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4.
• “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” Romans 6:14.
• “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16.
• “Who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” Hebrews 5:7.
• “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6.
• “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12.
• “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” 1 Peter 5:8-9.
• “… choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.” Hebrews 11:25.
These are but a few.
We pray in the “Lord’s Prayer” for God to “lead us not into temptation” but it more appropriate to ask God to meet us in the face of temptation.
The lesson on Temptation is clear:
• Count a pop quiz, test or defense every day
• Be ready to respond in God’s Word
• Trust God to Provide the Way.