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.