Summary: We can only win over and against temptation by putting our faith in Jesus Christ who can help us to resist temptation.
BAPTISM AND THE BATTLEGROUND
Text: Mark 1:9-15
"It is said that Ignatius of Loyola once had a hole dug for the novices [rookies] of his order a grave, having them buried except for their heads, asking, "Are you dead?" To those who answered yes, he would reply, "Rise then, and begin to serve me." (Thomas Oden. [quoting A. H. Strong]. Life In The Spirit. Peabody: Prince Press, 2001, p. 160). What Ignatius was doing is symbolic of what baptism is all about. For it is in our baptism that we are baptized into the likeness of Jesus. Consider Romans 6:3-4: "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life" (RSV). We have to realize that just because we have been baptized of water and the Spirit does not mean that we will never face temptation again.
Before we were baptized, we were not sealed by the Holy Spirit (John 6:27). After Jesus was baptized, He was sealed by the Holy Spirit (John 6:27) as are all who are baptized into His likeness (Romans 6:3-4). Through baptism we become dead to sin and arise to the newness of life in Jesus Christ and sealed by God’s Holy Spirit. Being sealed by God’s Holy Spirit does not make us exempt from temptation. We can only win over and against temptation by putting our faith in Jesus Christ who can help us to resist temptation.
SATAN STRIVES TO MAKE EVERY TEMPTATION A WATERLOO
Napoleon was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo. "Napoleon is said to have lost the battle of Waterloo because he counted on one of his Generals bringing forward reserves. But the General was behind time, and Napoleon’s fall was the result. "Too late" (Matt. 25:10). (John Ritchie. 500 Gospel Sermon Illustrations. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1978, p. 138). If we try to win against temptation without depending on the help of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we are setting ourselves up for a "Waterloo type of defeat". "When we in our own strength confide, our striving will be losing" (paraphrase of the second verse of Martin Luther’s hymn A Mighty Fortress Is Our God). We simply cannot stand by ourselves against the power of temptation an expect to win.
Satan tried to conquer Jesus and bring Him to His "Waterloo". Unlike Matthew and Luke, Mark’s Gospel does not supply us with the details of how Satan tempted Jesus. Mark’s Gospel does tell us that Satan tried to entice Jesus to sin when he tempted Jesus. "Sin breaks fellowship with God. A little girl committed a certain offense, and when her mother discovered it she began to question her daughter. Immediately the child lost her smile and a cloud darkened her face as she said, "Mother, I do not feel like talking." So it is when our fellowship with God is broken by sin in our lives. We do not feel like talking to Him. If you do not feel like praying, it is probably a good indication that you should start praying immediately". (Billy Graham as quoted by Roy B. Zuck. The Speaker’s Quote Book. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1997, p. 356). As someone once said, "Sin will keep us from prayer or Prayer will keep us from sin".
When we pray, we are staying in contact with God and seeking His guidance. That is exactly what Jesus did in the wilderness. The Greek New Testament uses a Greek word "nesteuo" (nhsteuwƒwƒn that translates a kind of fasting that is done with prayer. (See 1 for Greek sources at the end). Jesus was always consulting God in prayer in all that He did during the time of His earthly ministry. It is sometimes, if not oftentimes our habit to face things like trials and temptations without God’s help and make a mess of it and then ask Him in prayer to bless the mess we have made.
WE ARE ONLY VICTORIOUS OVER AND AGAINST TEMPTATION THROUGH THE HELP OF JESUS
Jesus conquered sin even though He was tempted. Dwight L. Moody once said, "To be tempted is not to sin. The strongest attacks are made on the strongest forts". (Roy B. Zuck. The Speaker’s Quote Book. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1997, p. 376). Jesus Christ is "our bulwark---our Mighty Fortress never failing"! Jesus was tempted when He was physically weak, hungry and alone as he had fasted for forty days. And though He was tested and tempted in the wilderness by Satan, as vulnerable as He was, He did not give in to those temptations.