‘Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.’ (Matthew 4:1 NIV)
Oscar Wilde once quipped, ‘
I can resist anything but temptation.’* Thankfully this was not true of Jesus who was
‘tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin’ (Hebrews 4:15).
Perhaps the clearest demonstration of this is when the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to face the temptations of: Turning stones into bread, throwing himself off of the high point of the temple so that God’s angels would catch him, and worshiping Satan
(Matthew 4:2-10). But wait a minute, how is this being tempted as we are? I have never been tempted to turn stones into bread, or to jump off a tall building or to engage in Satan worship – or have I?
What we see happening here to Jesus is common to all human beings. I have faced the temptation of self-gratification; of fulfilling my wants and desires (even good ones like the need for food) apart from God’s will. I have been tempted to manipulate God’s promises, take them out of context and put him to the test as if he is my servant there to do my bidding. And I have been tempted to embrace all that Satan’s world has to offer rather than faithfully walk the Christian path. These are temptations that are continually before us and that we have to battle with daily.
How did Jesus resist these temptations? A clue is given at Jesus’ baptism in the previous passage
(Matthew 3:13-17). Here two key things are indicated: The Spirit of God and a word of affirmation. Following the lead of the Holy Spirit and submitting to his guidance and power was instrumental in Jesus’ resistance. Coupled with this was the realisation that self-gratification, getting God to do what he wanted, and having all that this world has to offer is not what truly satisfies; rather it is knowing that he had God’s love and approval that provided him with lasting satisfaction.
These two weapons are also keys for us in our battles with temptation. Wilde was right when he said he couldn’t resist temptation; in our strength we are doomed to fail. To triumph over our temptations we need the resistance of Jesus in us through the Spirit. This means we are to be walking in step with the Spirit as he grows his fruit in our lives
(Galatians 5:13-26). And as we do so we need to know that that our Abba loves and approves of us so much that he rejoices, sings and dances over us
As the Spirit and God’s love work in tandem in us the influence of Satan will depart
Father, we know Satan doesn’t want us to rely on the Holy Spirit and to believe that we are an accepted child of yours. Help us to turn him aside the way Jesus did.
Have a good week living in the Spirit as an accepted child of God.
* Lady Windermere’s Fan.