Monday, March 5, 2012

Led Into Temptation

It’s Matthew Monday again, and we’re moving into Matthew 4.  Last week we looked at the Trinity and that rare moment when Father, Son, and Holy Spirit when observable during Jesus’ baptism.  How empowered Jesus must have felt at this moment, with the Holy Spirit’s anointing and the Father’s pronouncement of pleasure in His life.

But then in chapter 4, what happens?

The Spirit leads Jesus out into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan (Matthew 4:1).

Notice that God is not doing the tempting.  In fact in James it says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” (James 1:13-15).

But God does allow us to be tempted, and He does put us into positions were the devil will have opportunity to tempt us via our own natures.  I mean if He did it to Jesus why are we any different?

But God also promises that “no temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Jesus had a way out when it came to His temptation.  He did three things: fasted, prayed, and meditated on the scriptures, and when the devil came calling, Jesus was well-prepared to resist the evil one’s temptations.

So when Jesus teaches us to pray, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13), He’s speaking from experience.  Experience that says temptation isn’t easy.  “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15), and thus He teaches us to ask for grace in not being tempted in the first place, and freedom from the weakness within us, so we may persevere when Satan employs his pernicious wiles.

And we may have faith in God to answer this prayer because this is His kingdom, in His power, for His glory, forever and ever. Amen

Next week, we'll look at the specific temptations and why it is that these three temptations equate to being "tempted in all things as we are"; it's interesting stuff, and you won't want to miss it.

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