Summary: MAKING RESOLUTIONS is not the real problem. It is TESTING THOSE RESOLUTIONS AGAINST THE YARDSTICK OF THE BIBLE that is often neglected.
Matthew 4 - How to TEST YOUR NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS
Well it’s a NEW YEAR - 2010!
The new year is always a good opportunity to EVALUATE your spiritual life, to reflect on whether you’re being CARELESS or COMMITTED in YOUR SPIRITUAL LIFE
Everyone has the opportunity to think about the DIRECTION you are going.
The beginning of a new year is an IDEAL TIME to stop, LOOK UP and get our bearings and not just formulate some RESOLUTIONS for the new year but also to TEST THE VALUE OF YOUR RESOLUTIONS.
HAGGAI 1:5 says "Consider your ways!"
Don Whitney came up with 10 QUESTIONS to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.
I’d like to share them with you
1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?
5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?
6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?
8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?
9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in 10 years? In eternity?
It is great to evaluate our lives, to make PLANS AND GOALS.
MAKING RESOLUTIONS is not the real problem. After all Proverbs 21:5 (NASB77) says "The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, ..."
It is TESTING THOSE RESOLUTIONS AGAINST THE YARDSTICK OF THE BIBLE that is often neglected.
At the beginning of Jesus ministry He had made A RESOLUTION TO HEAD TOWARDS THE CROSS.
He had been BAPTISED and God was WELL PLEASED WITH HIM but in the very next chapter He is TESTED AND TEMPTED in the wilderness.
Your SPIRITUAL RESOLUTIONS this year will be TESTED. They always are when you determine to live for God
HOW CAN I TEST MY NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS AND MY COMMITMENT TO CHRIST.
In Matthew 4, Jesus is LED BY THE SPIRIT to be tempted by Satan. Why would Jesus go into the wilderness to be tempted? Not only that but did you notice that it is THE SPIRIT who LEADS Jesus into the wilderness to be TEMPTED by the devil! You’d think the Holy Spirit would want Him to be LED AWAY from anything to do with temptation and the devil but no, Jesus is led to CONFRONT SATAN head on!
How strange that God would do this, and why?
And if that can happen to Jesus, WHAT ABOUT ME? Am I going to be LED INTO TEMPTATION like Jesus was? Is God going to PUT ME IN HARM’S WAY deliberately? It doesn’t make any sense.
The Lord’s prayer says "Lead us NOT into temptation". Why then is Jesus LED INTO THE WILDERNESS to be TEMPTED by Satan? It doesn’t seem to add up. How are we to understand this? I want to start this new year well. Does that mean God will put me in THE FIRING LINE.
Now those questions are IMPORTANT if we are going to start the new year well.
But let’s be clear, it’s always good to ask God to KEEP YOU FROM EVIL, nevertheless God DOES choose to PLACE US IN POSITIONS that will TEST OUR FAITH, NOT so that we will FAIL THE TEST, but so that we will WIN OVER TEMPTATION and be stronger in our faith.
That shouldn’t stop me from asking to be kept from evil. The good thing about it is that I know when God ALLOWS ME TO BE TESTED it will never be beyond what I am able to endure.
Now let’s get a handle on this passage.
Firstly I want to look at the word TEMPT. When we use that word it always has a BAD MEANING. It means TO ENTICE someone to do THE WRONG THING, to PERSUADE SOMEONE TO SIN. And that’s exactly what the devil has in mind.
But in the Greek language "to tempt" actually has A GOOD MEANING. It means to TEST SOMEONE, NOT SO THAT THEY’LL FAIL, BUT SO THEY WILL SUCCEED. And from God’s point of view that why Jesus was led by the Spirit of God to be tempted. In Genesis 22 God TEMPTED ABRAHAM. God didn’t tempt him to sin! He tempted him in the sense of TESTING HIM. TEMPTATION is always an opportunity TO DO THE RIGHT THING.