“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.” Matthew 4:1 NLT
I don’t know about you but this one verse struck fear in my heart! Here is what is happening in the opening of today’s Word:
- Jesus was led to a lonely place.
- Jesus was in the wilderness.
- Jesus was tempted.
- Satan was there with Jesus.
I can almost hear ominous music, thunder, lightning, and the sound of creepy trees rattling, with fingerlike branches threatening to reach out to snatch or harm Jesus as he entered the wilderness.
If this verse were a movie on TV I’d change the channel immediately!
But, wait just a minute!!!!!
Didn’t Jesus just leave one of the highest moments in His life in my last blog? He was baptized in obedience to God and then his Father demonstrated and vocally expressed his pleasure and joy? Yes! So why did this happen?
What we are about to see in this one verse and in the following verses in my next blog, is Jesus will be facing something you and I face every day: temptation.
We like to think when we become Christians we get a shield of protection around us that keeps us from troubles. But we live in a world that is filled with the same kind of people that lived during the time of Jesus. Those are people who have the same freedom of choice we do to say “yes” to temptations or “no.”
Most of us don’t usually walk into trouble or temptation willingly, however, if we aren’t paying attention we can cluelessly walk into temptation. Sadly, there are people who run into temptation thinking it will be fun or they will get a thrill. I think we are about to learn that there is nothing isolated, thrilling, or fun about temptation.
However, in this one verse Jesus walked willingly, with intentional purpose, filled with the power of God, directly into a place where He knew there would be temptations. He did this to demonstrate the wiles of Satan and how the devil works to deceive us, especially when we are at our weakest. But the most important thing Jesus will be showing us is how to battle those temptations when they happen.
Today, we are going to look at some verses that will prepare us, in advance, for those temptations, and Jesus will give us even more as we walk through the wilderness with Him in my next blog.
A great place for us to start is to always be alert! Jesus wants us to stay focused, leaning on the Spirit that lives in us, when we face temptations of any kind. He says:
“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 NLT
Temptation looks very much like the nightmare from above; it’s dark, it’s ugly, it separates us from those who love us, and it might even be so disguised, it sounds tempting at first, but it will harm us. In fact, Satan’s true desire is to cause temptations to kill and destroy us. Temptation is a challenge we will always face; it is not a “once and done” thing, so it’s critical that we stay alert.
We can ask ourselves some direct questions like “am I willing to tell someone I’m about to do this?” Or, “is what I’m about to do illegal, immoral, or unjust?” If you don’t want to tell someone or if it falls into one of the three categories, you better STOP before you pass temptation and land right in the middle of sin.
Do you know what is the most terrifying thing about temptation? It’s our choices, and make no mistake about it, our choices will have an impact on someone else.
When we knowingly or willfully jump right into the middle of temptation it becomes sin and that is when the real horror story starts. Some examples of giving in to temptation are:
- When we succumb to the effect of alcohol or drugs, then we lose control of ourselves and unthinkable things happen to us and/or others.
- When we give in to anger, it can quickly become rage and we may find ourselves searching for a weapon to inflict harm against property or life.
- We selfishly want something another person has and we do whatever it takes to obtain it, even if that means irreparably harming or killing someone.
These are just a few examples in the chamber of horrors that happen when we give in to temptation.
But Jesus gives us something to help us overcome temptation. Knowledge and tools to prepare us for battle: the Bible.
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”” John 16:33 NLT
Jesus walked into temptation to show us how crafty the devil is and how he speaks a little truth but not the whole truth, to confuse us. With authority, Jesus warns us that life will have trials and temptations, but he also tells us He has overcome the world, therefore we can too!
Let’s take one more look at today’s verse before we get scared or give up hope. There is one word I don’t want you to miss; that word is “led.” Jesus was led by the Spirit, meaning He was not alone with Satan, nor are we alone with our own temptations when we walk with Jesus! Here are a few of His promises:
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NLT
“Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.” Psalm 73:23 NIV
This is so encouraging to me and I hope it is to you too. If you still have concerns you may not have what it takes to fight temptations, Jesus gives us the best news of all: for every temptation we face, God offers a way out.
“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT
God WILL NOT ALLOW any temptation to be more than we can stand! Isn’t that amazing and encouraging? When we face temptation, remember those three words from God: “will not allow.”
Today we learned the hard news that in this life we will face temptations and trials.
However (that word we love!), we also learned these important truths:
- We are not alone
- We are to stay alert
- We have God’s victorious hand holding ours
- We will not face more than we can endure
- We will always have a way out
That, my precious friends, will turn what may look may like a potential horror story, into a story of victory!
Father God, thank you that you are preparing us for the battles we face by revealing the truth to us; yes, we will face temptations, but You always provide us with a way out. Hallelujah and we praise You! Thank You for the best weapon You left us to fight temptations, which is Your Word, the Bible. Father I pray today that we go in Your strength knowing we have the power to say “no” to temptations because Your victorious hand holds ours. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.