Temptation is all around us.
I was talking with a friend yesterday, commiserating really about the world we’re raising our youngest children in compared to the world of just 10 and 15 years ago. Our youngest kids are being raised in a world saturated with temptation.
We’re apt to get absolutely disheartened when temptation is blaring from billboards and screaming from screens. In such a saturated culture, how can we avoid temptation?
We can’t. Not even Jesus avoided temptation. But we CAN keep from giving in to that temptation.
Let’s see what God has revealed to us about overcoming temptation.
Timing is everything
Jesus was tempted immediately after He was baptized. He had just begun His public ministry. In great humility and obedience, Jesus was baptized by John and in great glory, heaven opened, the Holy Spirit descended on Him “like a dove” and the Father affirmed this was His Son whom He loved. What a high point! What a God moment! Trinity in unity at the launch of Jesus’ earthly ministry.
THEN. Ah, the timing. “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit to the desert to be tempted by the devil.” (Matthew 4:1)(emphasis added)
If we’re going to overcome temptation, we have to be aware of Satan’s timing.
I love getting alone with God every morning. It’s usually a rich time of insight and repentance, of God infusing me with hope and even new ideas. Those quiet times are small mountaintops every morning as I’m alone, with my unsweet tea and journal, God’s Word and praise music.
THEN. Then I come back to my house, my after-breakfast kitchen, my people with questions and needs, my to-do list and WHAM. Temptation hits hard.
Temptation will often hit hardest when we’ve just experienced God most or when we’re beginning to follow God in faith or a new ministry. Knowing we have a target on our backs during these times will help us be prepared for the fiery darts.
Maybe you’ve seen that this week as you started the year with a great expectation of daily quiet time. And your obedience was rewarded with insidious temptations. Don’t let Satan’s darts deter you from pressing on. Because we’ll see next that we’re fully equipped to overcome temptation.
We’re fully equipped
God has given us every single thing we need to overcome temptation every single time.
First, we have the Holy Spirit. Wait. Doesn’t being full of the Holy Spirit guard against temptation? No. Luke tells us Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit and led by that Spirit into the desert. The Holy Spirit prepares us for temptation but never prevents temptation. If we are full of the Holy Spirit? Good! Then we’re prepared for battle.
Second, God equips us with His Word. Each time Satan tempted Jesus, Jesus used scripture to overcome temptation. That’s why Bible study is essential. We have to know scripture to use it. God has given us the sharp, double-edged sword of the Word, but if we never pick it up we’ll never be able to swing it at Satan.
A sufficient Savior
Jesus was tempted in every way, just as we are, and yet without sin. Satan gave it his best. He lobbed arrows sharpened just for Jesus. Jesus knows what it is to be tempted.
The Son, incarnate, felt in his humanity the full weight of temptation and need. He had to have been famished after 40 days of fasting. His body probably suffered multiple physical effects as his organs and systems responded and coped with such a long fast.
And yet, he overcame temptation. He was without sin.
And because of that, not only can He sympathize with us, but He can fight for us as our Savior. When we give God our weakness, He gives us His strength. “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” (Isaiah 40:29)
Let’s not make excuses for giving in to temptation. You know the ones —
- This is a bad habit I’ll never be able to break.
- This is the personality I was born with.
- I don’t have enough willpower.
Satan may time it just right, but we have everything we need to overcome temptation.
Jesus is out in the hot, dry, rocky wilderness alone. But Not.
He has been led there by the Holy Spirit, so the Spirit is with Him. And of course, the tempter.
I imagine He is famished and physically very weak. There is no restaurant nearby for Him to go grab something to break His fast. He can’t just jump into His car and drive to the nearest town. In order to break His fast, it seems, He will have to walk out of the wilderness just like He walked in.
Enter the tempter, who likes to prey on our human weaknesses. What better way to get Jesus to fail than to lure Him while He is weak? But even in His weakness, Jesus does not give in, because He was spiritually strong by standing firm on God’s Word.
In Mt. 4:7 we see that Jesus knows that He is God when He says, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the LORD your God to the test.'”
Satan was not easily deterred. It’s like he thought he was so close to victory, like he could taste it, like he was circling around like a bird of prey, ready to swoop down on a vulnerable, unsuspecting animal.
So he has to give it one more try.
Jesus knows that one day all those kingdoms will be His anyway. Why would He give in to the devil for instant gratification? (And we shouldn’t either, of course.)
Jesus knows that the tempter is just a created being and that God will not share His glory with another. So, He finally tells the tempter to get out! “For it is written: ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and serve Him only.’ Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.”
I wonder if the angel army was waiting for the signal from the Commander-in-chief? I wonder if they gave chase to the devil?
Or did they simply bring Jesus bread and water like the angel did for Elijah hundreds of years before.
This is getting so long that I think I’ll just write a blog post at https://plantedbylivingwater.wordpress.com
Lisa Appelo says
I so appreciate all the insight, Ruth. I’m off to read your blog post. 😉
Jennifer Waddle says
Thank you for this, Lisa. I was especially blessed by your words, “Temptation will often hit hardest when we’ve just experienced God most or when we’re beginning to follow God in faith or a new ministry.”
That is so true and something to keep in mind! It is easy to get discouraged right after a sweet time of communion with God.
Lisa Appelo says
I so often forget that, Jennifer! But I saw it just yesterday with a dear friend …the enemy feeding lies so that the ministry doesn’t get off go.
MaryJo Landwehr says
Appreciate your words today, Lisa! So very true!!!
Thank you for these 100 days – really being encouraged in my walk with Jesus through this time iof reading and journaling!
Lisa Appelo says
Me too, MaryJo. This is my 2nd time through but the first time to read it between Christmas and Easter. <3
Sheryl Vickery says
Hello Sisters in Christ community. God’s word this week has been so instructive and challenging for me, and then your post, Lisa, opened my eyes a little more clearly to the way I am suppose to carry on in the midst of a tough circumstance. My biggest struggle is not stepping full stride into sin as a reaction to continual hurt. To live above the sin in full faith that Jesus has this!!! He really does. The battle of my thoughts has been fierce for a couple months now. I am turning to the Psalms everyday and journaling as well as praying through them because I know I could be just one move away from giving in and giving up on this hard thing. Here are some verses that my Savior gave me and assured me that His presence and power is enough for victory, but I have to stay in it and continually pick up my weapon and put on my armor. Here are some Psalms.
Ps. 31 Let me not be put to shame, O Lord, for I call upon Thee;
Ps. 91:11 For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. (Familiar? Newly powerful to me this week)
Ps. 121:7 … He will keep your soul.
Ps. 32:8 …I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Ps. 33:9 For He spoke and it was done; He commanded and it stood fast.
Ps 34:22 The Lord redeems the soul of His servants; and none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.
I could list many more from this week, but I’ll end with this;
Ps 5:12 For it is you who doth bless the righteous man, O Lord, you surround him with favor as with a shield.
I love this and it brings a smile to my face and a lightness to my soul. These are hard gifts to live out for His glory, but I want to see God’s power manifest!!!
Thank you Lisa for your perseverance.
Lisa Appelo says
Sheryl, the Psalms are so full of rich truth. I know yours must be as underlined as many of mine. Thank you for sharing from your heart. <3
The last few months it has been one thing after another the devil hits me head on everyday.. I am a Christian have been saved for almost 50 years. I am 61 and attend church every Sunday and I pray on a daily basis and read the Bible everyday.
I feel like giving up… But I keep going
That’s all I can do
Please keep me in your prayers .. I feel down and stressed
Lisa Appelo says
Well, one of his chief aims, Debbie, is certainly to discourage us! I am praying for you now, that God will renew your faith and fire.
Robin Bunting says
I am behind already but this post is only encouraging me to not give up. I feel empowered by the Holy Spirit to catch up and continue. Thank you, Lisa, for this study.
I enjoyed your post, Lisa, and am so thankful for your giving us this opportunity and motivation to study God’s Word. I love how the different passages give new insight into what we would see if we only read from one gospel writer and not the others! Thanks so much!
I started commenting above, and decided it was getting so long that I should just write my own blog post. Here is the url if you or anyone else wants to read what I got from the reading:
Thanks again for this study! 🙂
Thank you everyone, thank you Lisa. I am so encouraged when I understand God’s truths and promises. In order to do so I must spend time in his word so that I can apply it to life. I am recognizing many temptations…praise God that there’s a heighten awareness of the enemy and I can turn to scripture to rebuke.
May you all have a blessed weekend.
Briana Arranaga says
I am so thankful for God’s Word and for His truth. I’m following 100 Days of Christ and I’ve been learning how to strategize my studying. And I love this chronological study of Jesus’ life. Thank you, Lisa for sharing. I plan on ending strong with this study. May you stay blessed!
Betsy De Cruz says
This is so good, Lisa. It’s true that we’re often hit after a highpoint! I can so relate to that morning scenario you paint here. 🙂
But what an exchange: “When we give God our weakness, He gives us His strength.”
Kristin Taylor says
This is good stuff, and for me it’s a reminder to be intentional with my time and attention. It’s good to have you at #ThreeWordWednesday this week. Thanks for being there!
Lisa Appelo says
Thank you, Kristin! I really love the 3-word challenge. 🙂
Sometimes I wonder if I even recognize that’s it’s temptation or if I just chalk it up to circumstance. Nevertheless I love that Jesus responded with scripture. Doing that has been a huge help in my walk with God.
Lisa Appelo says
I think you’re right Kelly…we don’t always see it for what it is!