Summary: When we understand teh nature of temptation we can fully appreciate and share in the suffering of Christ.
Title: The Cross of Temptation
Thesis: When we understand the nature of temptation we can fully appreciate and share in the suffering of Christ.
Lenten Season: The Season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and culminates with the celebration of the resurrection of Christ on Easter. It is traditionally a season of penitential preparation in the life of the Christian that heightens our awareness of the suffering of Christ and His death on the cross. Easter Sunday then is essentially a celebration as we also experience Christ’s victory over sin and death.
In the Season of Lent we have an opportunity to experience what it means to be a follower of Christ as we consciously take up our crosses and follow Him. “Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me.” Mathew 16:24
The series of messages during this Lenten Season will expand on the idea of what it means to carry one’s cross.
Lenten Series: The Crosses of Lent
Then beyond the idea of carrying one’s own cross is the understanding that in doing so we may come to know Christ more clearly.
Series Key Verse: I want to know Christ and experience the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His suffering, becoming like Him in His death, and so somehow, to attain the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:10-11
Picture it: rural area, Sunday morning, church is packed and the devil decides to pay a visit.
The doors burst open, and a rolling black cloud rolls in with the devil in its midst. People jump out of the pews and run outdoors, screaming - all except for two. One is the Pastor, the other is an elderly farmer.
Satan is a bit perplexed. He points to the Pastor and says, "You! I can understand why you didn't run away, you are in your Lord's house, you preach against me every day and you aren't afraid of me. But YOU (points to the farmer), why didn't you run out scared like everyone else?"
The farmer crosses one leg over the other and drawls, "Well Devil, you don’t scare me one bit...I've been married to your sister for 36 years!"
We often blame the devil for our actions. Recently Bonnie came home with a new dress. She was pleased with her purchase and wanted to model it for me to see what I thought and I agreed it was very flattering. Then she told me it was kind of expensive and then she told me just how expensive it was. She explained that she tried to resist buying it but said, “the Devil made me do it.” I asked her, “Bonnie, why didn’t you just say, “Get thee behind me Satan” and put it back on the rack. Bonnie said I did but he said, “It looks good from the back too.”
This morning I want to preface my remarks by saying that temptation and the testing of our faith is very real. It was real in the life of Christ and it is real in our lives as well. We may joke about it but in reality it is very serious and may be thought of as one of the crosses people bear.
It was certainly one of the crosses Jesus bore. The temptations and the testings were real. Everything that the Devil threw at Jesus hit home. Speaking of Jesus, in Hebrews 4:15-16 the bible says, “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.”
So just as Jesus identifies with us in every aspect of our humanity, we can also indentify with Him in his humanity. And one of the ways we may know Christ is through knowing and identifying with his experiences.
I want to unpack a series of principles relating to temptation and testing. The first principle is that temptation seizes the opportune moment.
I. Temptation strikes at opportune times.
And the voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with him.” Then Jesus was led out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted there by the Devil. Matthew 3:17-4:1
You’ve heard the idiom about striking while the iron is hot. This saying refers to the blacksmith who works with iron. First he heats the iron until it is red hot and soft. Then he immediately hits the iron with his hammer to change its shape. If he waits, the iron becomes cold and hard again, and he cannot shape it.