Jesus’ Example: Resisting Temptation

temptation-of-jesusThe temptation of Jesus is recorded in Matthew 4:1-11.  We will be referring to these verses many times.

Walking the earth as a man subjected Jesus to all things common to humanity.  The Epistle of James teaches that God is not tempted by sin, and does not tempt anyone to sin.  But Jesus is God in the flesh; he experienced all the things we experience and can thus empathize with our weaknesses, feelings, emotions, frustrations, and so forth.  Whatever we experience, Jesus himself has been there.  And so it is with temptation. 

Jesus is first tempted by hunger.  Satan tells him to turn stone into bread.  With each temptation, Jesus responds with scripture.  The first lesson to learn here is to go to the Word of God.  Jesus – the incarnate Word – responds to each attack of Satan by quoting the written Word.  In response to the suggestion to turn stone to bread, Jesus replies “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

The second temptation is to prove himself.  Jesus replies that we should not test God.  Finally, Satan offers to Jesus the kingdoms of this world.  Satan had turned a third of the angels in heaven away from God, if only he could get God’s son to worship him.  He offered the kingdoms of this world, which the Bible teaches are established by God in the first place.  They were sort of Satan’s to offer; but not really. 

In all three cases, what Jesus is really being offered is an easy way.  He was hungry after fasting forty days.  That was his purpose for being in the wilderness; to pray and fast.  Satan was offering a short cut to getting feed.  We also read in scripture that to many, their belly is their god.  To prove himself by summoning the angels, to receive many kingdoms here and now; also shortcuts.  It would have been easier to accept the offer of Satan than to take the long, hard road to the cross.  That’s what sin always is; a quick fix, a short cut, settling for less than what God has in mind for us.  Pornography offers instant gratification, rather than the work it takes to maintain a real relationship.  Stealing gets you what you want quicker than earning the money to pay for stuff.  Insert whatever sin you like in the blank, it’s quicker than waiting, easier than doing it God’s way.  We settle for less than the blessing God has in mind for us. 

When Jesus is being arrested, Peter pulls out his sword and cuts off one man’s ear.  He is ready to fight, and calls on the other disciples to fight with him.  Jesus tells him to put his sword away.  Why does he use the phrase “Get the behind me Satan,” with the Apostle Peter?  It could very well be that Peter is offering an easier way than the death on the cross Jesus knows he must face.  He may have been tempted, just for a moment, to let Peter hack some guys to pieces.  Any other way than what God has in mind is sin; and it usually comes to us looking like a good idea at the time.

It should be pointed out that Jesus did everything perfectly, without sin.  While it is the Christian’s goal to become more Christlike, we are fallen creatures.  We fail daily in our attempts to live righteously.  In the words of Paul we “press toward the mark of the prize,” but never do so perfectly.

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10 thoughts on “Jesus’ Example: Resisting Temptation

  1. This is truth. I really can see how pornographic images are being used to tempt and grieve the Holy spirit. Goodness! You cant even walk into a market place like Vons, Ralph’s or even worse Seven Eleven. The magazine rack looks like a strip club. It would’ a bit surprise me if they started to offer lap dances with every Slurpee refill. Its really not funny,

    Christ’s followers must know the tools of Spiritual warfare. This is Spiritual warfare designed by Satan himself to turn the heads of the righteous or to keep the lost down in the dirt. Today’s children and youth watch graven images of lust and sexual immorality on prime time television at 7 in the evening. Cartoons today have blatant sexual connotations that plant horrible seeds of sin and death in the minds of Gods children. Pornography laces the internet with the smell of death Satan in disguised. cast down every imagination men and women of God. Teach your children well Watch over them in a time where the wolves are waiting..KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK> There is nothing more important than spreading the Gospel. Wear the whole armor. Eph 6-10-17, May the Lord bless you and keep you until the day of Jesus Christ.

  2. Mark, you have a calling do not waist time on the world, We are praying for you and we miss you. You are one of the best examples of persistence and endurance I have seen of recent years. I admire your fire. May God supply your every need as you spread the good news. I have seen you down town of late. Keep singing with that gift!. Remember the laborers are few. Your reward will be great if you just follow through. Hey that is a great line for a song.

  3. I would never be arrogant enough to say what you are saying is wrong mark, but I always fear that with Christians who are so fervent in their faith and adamant in their scriptures, don’t look to read else where. You may be well read in the texts and authors I am about to suggest, I obviously don’t know, so I am sorry for my assumption. However to spread the Gospel as truth is unfair on the people you present it to if you don’t have a rounded knowledge of the subject. I suggest you read (again if you havent already) John Milton (paradise lost) William Blake (the marriage of heaven and hell) Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, Nietzsche on metaphysics , Locke, Hume and as many modern philosophers as you can.

  4. To Mark and William: The purpose of this blog is to spread the Gospel as truth, and to encourage others believers to do the same. Paradise Lost may be good literature, but I would hardly considering reading it before determining the truth of scripture. Einstein’s theory of relativity? The physical laws that govern the universe were created by God, and he exists and works outside of them. I will not be consulting Stephen Hawkins before continuing to preach the Gospel either. These are merely authoritative sources when it comes to this world.

    Paul contended with the “modern philosophers” of his day in Athens. He went through the Old Testament prophets in order to prove the Jesus was the Christ. At the end of the day their statement was “We will hear you again on this.” They enjoyed the debate; they looked forward to the rhetoric. But they were not considering putting their faith in Jesus Christ. Paul did not stay to be heard again. He continued through the Greko-Roman world building churches and spreading the Gospel.

  5. Okay so Paul contended with the “modern philosophers” of his day, and so should you. Paradise Lost IS good literature you are correct, and so is the bible; Paradise Lost however is also an INTERPRETATION of the bible so to read it would only further your understanding of the bible. Merely authoritative sources when it comes to this world? Don’t be so quick to dismiss cosmologists, some of the greatest religious writings of our modern era have come from them. You are right they do try and understand the universe, but the very foundation of it and how it came to be, surely in answering these questions they will explore the nature of God? Don’t limit yourself.

  6. In light of William’s most recent comment, I went back and read his original comment. It is possible that I missed the heart of what he was trying to say. I thought he was challenging the notion of presenting the Gospel as truth, whilst I firmly believe there is no greater truth. I may simply have been responding to an argument that he wasn’t even making. Even though I still will not be reading the philosophers of this day, I think I have a better appreciation for William’s original statement. It’s no different than understanding the tenants of Islam before witnessing to Muslims.

  7. Great thoughts from the article and responses

    I think the key thing is balance. I know reading wide and studying to show yourself approved to God really helps – especially in relating with other people.

    Coincidentally, I have been writing on the end times on my blog…I plan to take it top down, from expounding on why I believe the rapture is not before the Great Tribulation, signs on the end from scripture and how they are being played out today, including the latest news about Israel that I belive will start the initial tremors to start Gog and Magog.

    Feel free to come by, suscribe and comment

    Cheers

  8. I appreciated your entry…just a question…Jesus does not tell Peter “Get behind me Satan” at the time that Peter cuts off Malchus’ ear. How do you see a connection between the two events?

  9. That was my mistake, which I realized later. In Matthew 16, Jesus tells the disciples he must suffer many things. It is on the occasion that Peter says it will not be so, to which Jesus replies “Get behind me Satan.” What Peter was offering was an easy way, a shortcut, rather than facing the long difficult road to the cross. This is similar to what Satan had offered Jesus the 3 times before; an easy way out rather than following God’s plan. On the night Jesus was arrested, Peter drew his sword and was ready to fight his way out of the Garden of Gethsemane. I had those two stories together in my mind when I wrote this post and you’re right, they should not be.

    Once again, however, Peter is acting first and thinking later. He had all the best intentions both times. But Jesus knew what he must do was take the slow, painfull path that was set before him.

  10. Pingback: Resisting Temptation « The Daily Bible Plan

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