There is not a one of us in the room who has not been tempted to do something we know we shouldn’t. From sneaking a cookie to sneaking cash. Children instinctively respond to temptation at a young age and older people seem never to shake it. From birth to death we will always be hounded by temptations but that doesn’t mean we have to give in. Today we look at the example of Jesus as He was tempted and found victory in the process.
Paul wrote in Hebrews 4:15 15For 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.
His temptation stands as an example to each of us that yes, we will be tempted, and in the process, we can be victorious just like Jesus. Today, lets look at the example of Jesus.
We are in Matthew 4. The first verses offer us insight into life.
1. We all are tempted.
Verses 1, 2: THEN JESUS was led (guided) by the [Holy] Spirit into the wilderness (desert) to be tempted (tested and tried) by the devil.
2And He went without food for forty days and forty nights, and later He was hungry
It almost seems like a contradiction to James 1:13 13Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one.
God does not tempt us. The passage said it is the devil who is the tempter and the tempter will come, usually after a mountain top experience, offering an even greater experience, but with a cost. Have you been there? And God knows the testing will come. Fire can either purify or destroy depending upon how it is applied.
One night at a weight loss clinic the instructor held up an apple and then a candy bar. "What is the nutritional value of this apple," she asked, "and how would it relate to your diet?" "Low in calories", “natural” and "lots of fiber" were among the answers. She then went on the explain what was wrong with eating candy, and concluded with, "Apples are not only more healthful but also less expensive. You can buy this apple for about thirty cents. Do you know I paid eighty-five cents for this candy bar?" Everyone just stared at the forbidden treat, and from the back of the room someone blurted out: "I’ll give you two dollars for it."
Jesus shows us the right example.
2. Temptations come in the form of present desires.
3And the tempter came and said to Him, If You are God’s Son, command these stones to be made loaves of] bread.
4But He replied, It has been written, Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.
The prior verse stated Jesus had been without food for 40 days and he was hungry. Along comes the devil and challenges his ability with the desire for food he has. Turn these stones into bread. Could He have done it? Of course! With each temptation, Jesus respond with Scripture explaining why He will not. Bread is not the issue. God’s word is.
You have probably heard it said, you can give a man a fish and he can eat for a day, or you can teach him to fish and he can eat for a lifetime. What sustains us in life is the word of God, it is not just a meal made from stones that last until we are hungry again, it teaches life so we can have our needs taken care of forever. When you get the Word down in your heart it will uplift you in your time of temptation.
3. Temptations will try to get you to test God
5Then the devil took Him into the holy city and placed Him on a turret (pinnacle, gable) of the temple sanctuary
6And he said to Him, If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, He will give His angels charge over you, and they will bear you up on their hands, lest you strike your foot against a stone
7Jesus said to him, On the other hand, it is written also, You shall not tempt, test thoroughly, or try exceedingly the Lord your God
The devil uses people to try and test God in a variety of ways. If it is not my time to die, than if I stand on the train tracks, God will send an angel to pull me away. During the Great Debate between Christianity and Atheism, the atheist said, okay, God show yourself, and waited. It would be nice if God did show Himself, but that would be against the written word, for He will come and show Himself again at the second coming, when the trumpet will sound and He will return to the earth. I don’t think the atheist would like what would have happened to him with Judgment that follows that second coming.
At times we walk a fine line between wanting to know God’s will and try to get our will. Tempt not God.
Jesus temptation continues, as does ours.
4. Temptations will always try to counterfeit
8Again, the devil took Him up on a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory (the splendor, magnificence, preeminence, and excellence) of them.
9And he said to Him, These things, all taken together, I will give You, if You will prostrate Yourself before me and do homage and worship me.
10Then Jesus said to him, Begone, Satan! For it has been written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him alone shall you serve
The devil is always trying to give you something similar to what God has in store. In Jesus case, the devil offered him the kingdoms of the world. In truth, Jesus always owns it all and it comes to him as part of worship.
And then we fight our egos as well. Just listen to this ego buster…The early Oscar ceremonies, in the late 1920s, were held in private. Explaining why they were so low-key, Cary Grant remarked: "There is something embarrassing about all these wealthy people congratulating each other." It didn’t take long for that to change. At the 1933 Oscar’s, the stage was set for tuxedo-clad celebrities to trip over their own egos. Director Frank Capra was so certain he would win for Lady for a Day that he began to rise before Will Rogers finished announcing the winner. "He kept saying, ’Over here, over here,’" says Hollywood historian Stephen Schochet, "because the spotlight was thrown on the other side of the room and he wanted to bask in his triumph." Capra was even more confused on his way up to the platform when Rogers said, "Come on up and get it, Frank." It turns out the winner was another Frank — Frank Lloyd for Cavalcade. Capra called his return to his seat "the longest, saddest, most shattering walk in my life."
5. To those who overcome temptation
11Then the devil departed from Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
James 4:7 reads So be subject to God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you.
If you are tired of being chased around by that old devil, be subject to the Lord. When temptations come, stand firm against him and the Bible says he will flee. Jesus did, and it opened the door for angels to come and minister.
What is it right now the devil has set before you in temptation? Who in the house is looking to overcome temptation with victory? Lets do business with God.