Overcoming Temptation: Lessons from the Temptation of Jesus
I can still remember walking off that tiny stage in the basement of the education building after giving my first sermon. I was a junior in college, and by all accounts, my life was going great. I had friends, played baseball, and had a great relationship. However, I knew that teaching God’s Word was what I was supposed to do for the rest of my life. I changed my schedule and priorities and dove headfirst into the work of ministry. Although I do not agree with the prosperity gospel, at that time I felt that God would bless all the things I was giving over to His care.
But instead, everything I loved seemed to be taken away from me. I felt like my whole world had started to crumble. I vented to a mentor at the time about how I had decided to pursue what I believed was God’s calling for me, yet everything around me seemed to be falling apart. He pointed me to the passage about Jesus’ temptation and asked if I was surprised by the timing.
I had decided to pursue what I believed was God’s calling for me, yet everything around me seemed to be falling apart.
Looking at the temptation of Jesus gave me valuable insight into how and when we will deal with weakness and temptation. As I read the account, I was reminded that even the Son of God faced temptation, and so we should expect to face it in our own lives.
After being baptized by John the Baptist, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1-11). For 40 days and nights, Jesus fasted and prayed. After this time, the devil came to Him and tempted Him three times. First, the devil tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread, but Jesus responded with Scripture, saying, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Next, the devil took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple and told Him to jump, saying that the angels would save Him. Jesus responded with Scripture again, saying, “You shall not test the Lord your God.” Finally, the devil took Jesus to a high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, telling Him that he would give them to Him if He would worship him. Jesus responded, “Get behind me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.'” After these three temptations, the devil left Jesus, and angels came and ministered to Him.
In this passage, we first notice that Jesus was tempted right after He started His ministry. This reminds us that as we step out to do God’s work, we will face opposition from the enemy. We should not be surprised when we face hardships or difficulties but rather be prepared for them. As 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
The devil loves to attack you when you are at your lowest, when you are at your highest, and when you are doing work for the Kingdom. If you are the type of person who reads blog posts about the gospel, wants to deepen your knowledge of our Savior, and is actively trying to love God and love people, just know that you have put a target on your back.
The devil loves to attack you when you are at your lowest, when you are at your highest, and when you are doing work for the Kingdom.
The devil also likes to attack when you are physically off. There is a concept of HALT that is especially important when dealing with temptation because these moments of Hunger, Anger, Loneliness, or Tiredness can often cloud our judgment and make us vulnerable to the devil’s attacks. It’s important to recognize these feelings and take a step back to evaluate our situation before making big decisions.
When Jesus was being tempted in the desert after 40 days of fasting, it says that He was hungry (yeah, no joke, Sherlock). But this detail shows us that Satan will come after us when we are weak.
The devil tempts us in three main areas: the lust of the flesh, the pride of the eyes, and the pride of life. From the garden of Eden to today, this is where he comes after us. My favorite professor, Dr. Wayne Grudem, used to say: “every man will be faced with the temptation of gold, glory, or girls.” We can put these in the categories of flesh, pride, and power. The devil knows our weaknesses and will use them against us. However, each time Jesus was tempted, He responded with Scripture. We also can resist temptation by responding with Scripture. As Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.”
The more we know about how the devil will come after us, the better prepared we will be to face it. While we are in a fight with temptation, “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). But we need to remember that we serve a God who has already won the battle.
The more we know about how the devil will come after us, the better prepared we will be to face it.
Finally, we see that Jesus had to be tempted so that He could be our perfect substitute. He faced every temptation and yet did not sin, making Him the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Because of His victory over sin and death, we too can have victory over temptation and live for Him. As Romans 6:14 says, “For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”
In conclusion, the Temptation of Jesus is a powerful reminder that we, too, will face temptation in our lives. My mentor told me that night when I was angry at God, frustrated with ministry, and upset with the direction of my life, that we often think we’re doing something wrong when we face difficulties, but more often, we face temptation because we are doing the right thing. If you’re facing something difficult today, lean into it and don’t quit. You may be right where God wants you to be. Know that temptation is coming, so be prepared for it. Guard against your weaknesses and respond with Scripture. Most importantly, remember that because of Jesus’ victory over sin and death, we too can have victory over temptation and live for Him.
CENTRAL DISCOVERY KIDS PASTOR