Summary: God gives us the power to resist temptation

Matthew 4:1-11

A mother walked into the kitchen one day and interrupted her 3 year old, who was on top of a chair eating cookies.

When she asked what he was doing, the toddler explained: “Mom, I just climbed up here to smell them but my tooth got caught.

When we give in to temptation we almost always have a justifiable excuse as to why we gave in.

For the next 6 weeks many of us will be fighting the temptation to break down and give up on the commitments we made last Wednesday when we decided to give up certain foods or activities during the Lenten season.

I know some chocolate lovers who are probably having 4th stage withdrawal symptoms right about now.

There are others who are longing to watch TV or craving a piece of pie, or longing for a Pepsi or Coke.

This always happens around this time of the year because this is the Lenten season and Ash Wednesday, which was last Wednesday, is the day we commit to giving up some vice, or delicacy that we believe will help us to experience a little of what it feels like to be tempted as Jesus was at the beginning of his ministry.

As for me, I didn’t give up anything. I thought about giving up meat and sweets again this year, but by 10:30 am on Wednesday morning I had already eaten several pieces of ham, and a piece of Cake.

I usually stop down in the kitchen when Ann and Larry are preparing the Rotary luncheon and the temptation to snack is always greater than my desire to resist.

Which makes me admire Jesus all the more because in our reading it starts by saying: “Jesus was lead by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights he was hungry.”

Note: it was after forty days and nights of fasting that the devil came to tempt him. He didn’t come in the beginning when Jesus was strong and in fresh, no, he waited until Jesus was hungry, tired and weak.

He waited until Jesus was probably at his lowest.

Administrators in prison camps use to use this technique to get information out of prisoners. They would keep them from falling asleep and withhold nourishment and water from them until they were in a weaken condition and then tempt them with food and drink to get them to admit to false saying or to get them say whatever they wanted them to say.

Starvation is one of the most effective forms of torture known to man because it gets results. When everything else fails, starvation breaks down all barriers. Because the physical human body needs physical nourishment to remain strong and healthy.

But even in this weaker condition, Jesus was able to resist the temptations of the devil because Jesus relied more on the power of God that came from being in a personal relationship with God.

The same kind of relationship that God wants to have with each and every human being that was ever born.

You might say that Jesus couldn’t fail this test of temptation because of his divine nature. You may think he used supernatural powers to resist the devil.

But if you read the bible you know that Jesus was fully human—and if the temptation he suffered was to be legitimate Jesus had to be exactly like those he came to save. He needed to be human in every aspect because only then would God be able to use him as an example for us to follow.

Hebrews 2:14-18 says:

“Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not Angles he helps, but Abraham’s descendants (all of us).

For this reason, he had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”

And again in Hebrews Chapter 4:15 it says: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize (meaning to identify ) with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.”

So if Jesus did not yield to the temptation to sin then we don’t have to yield to it either. Amen.

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