Summary: The way in which Jesus faced temptation teaches us how we can deal with it too. We are all tempted. However, like Jesus, we can resist temptation
NOTE: The strategies for resisting temptation at the end of this sermon were taken from a sermon entitled "Claiming the Victory – Strategies for Resisting Temptation" by Keith Manry -Foun here on sermoncentral.com
Introduction: What tempts you? I’m not talking about the ice cream and chocolate chip cookie kind of temptations. I mean, what REALLY tempts you? What do you struggle with? Do you even know what tempts you? Do most of us even know what temptation really is?
Today, as we continue to see a compelling portrait of Christ revealed to us we are going to look at how he dealt with the issue of temptation. This may be a tough sermon for some of you because most of us struggle with the idea that Jesus could be tempted. We struggle with the idea that it could be possible for the Son of God to truly have to struggle with temptation like you and I do.
But, A big piece of the picture…a major component of this compelling portrait, is the fact that Jesus…the very Son of God…did indeed face temptation. God’s Son…the Messiah…the creator and savior of the universe faced temptation just like we do (and the only reason we know this is because he was authentic and vulnerable enough to share this with his followers…otherwise it wouldn’t be recorded.)
In the book of Hebrews we read,
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin
Hebrews 4:15 (NIV)
So we can see that Jesus was tempted…he was tempted in all of the same ways that we are tempted…and yet he did so without sinning. Again, some of you may think that this was no big deal since he was/is God, after all. But we need to remember that in becoming man he set aside certain aspects of his divinity in order to relate to us. (We talked about that last week)
Now, there is some debate among religious scholars as to whether or not, as a man, Jesus could have actually sinned. Without going into the debate and the reasons that each side would offer up, let me simply say that I DO believe he could have made the choice to sin…otherwise his temptations would not have been real. But I believe he was truly tempted and withstood that temptation so that he could provide for us an acceptable sacrifice for sin upon the cross.
So Jesus came fact to face with temptation. Let me read to you the account of Christ’s temptation that is found in the book of Matthew. Open your bibles to Matthew chapter 4 with me.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."
Jesus answered, "It is written: ’Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’"
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written:
" ’He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’"
Jesus answered him, "It is also 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. "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."
Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ’Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’"
Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Matthew 4:1-11 (NIV)
Immediately after his baptism, which we explored last week, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where, for forty days, he was tempted by the devil.
What is Temptation?
To fully grasp this episode in the life of Jesus, and in order to deal with it in our own lives, we need to understand what temptation IS and what temptation is NOT.
The word that is translated “tempted” is a Greek word that has two distinct meanings.
• Temptation = Trial/testing to check the strength or value of something
• Temptation = attempting to draw or entice someone into sin
Jesus faced both types of temptation in his wilderness encounter and that is often going to be the case in our lives as well. Let me explain. Matthew, Mark and Luke all begin their recounting of this event in the life of Jesus by saying that he was led into the desert by the Spirit. He was exactly where God wanted him to be (I’ll get into this more later). And while he was in the desert he was tempted by the devil.