Devotional - Lessons For Temptation, From Temptation

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Mar 7, 2013.

  1. If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. 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. – 1Corinthians 10: 12-13 (NLT)

    We live in a world oozing with temptations that can lead us astray from our walk with God. This is of course not surprising since the enemy to our souls is the lord of this world and his primary goal is to damage the kingdom of God by making us ineffectual in the work God has called us to. The Bible says that we should not be ignorant of the schemes of the devil so let’s examine how he operates using temptation by reviewing the Scriptures where he tempted Christ Himself.

    Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. – Matthew 4: 1 (NIV)

    Beloved, there are lessons in everything in life, even our moments of testing and temptation. The devil will always come against us when we are about to be used by God. Jesus here was about to enter His public ministry. How could He relate to the temptations the people He would minister to if He Himself had not experienced these temptations as well? We do not serve some abstract God from a far away perspective. We serve a God who humbled Himself to come down to our level and live as we live. When we are betrayed by friends He relates because He was as well. When we weep for loss He comforts because He has gone through the same thing. When we face temptations He understands because He also was led into the wilderness by God. Sometimes we over spiritualize our lives. I hear the lament often from Christians that the “devil has them running” this week. Here is today’s deep theology – stop running!

    So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. – James 4: 7 (NLT)

    We have been given authority yet so often we are fleeing from what we need to be resisting. While everyone loves quoting the second half of this verse, we often forget the qualifier. People prefer running away from the devil instead of resisting him because we don’t like to humble ourselves! The overarching point here is that there is something to be learned and gained from every situation, even the really bad ones. Our faith is not strengthened on the mountaintop. If anything, it is there that we start to take things for granted. We need to stop trying to figure out how to escape the valley and start figuring out why God has us there to begin with. There are only two directions in a valley. Backwards to our old life and forward to the next level in God. How often though do we either sit down and bemoan the valley or try and scale the walls under our own power and understanding? Trust God beloved and always remember – He sees exactly where you are! He will never leave you nor forsake you.

    After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him– Matthew 4: 2-3a (NIV)

    Continuing in the story of the temptation of Christ we see the second lesson is that the devil knows exactly when to attack. He sees our weaknesses and will use them against us. Have you ever felt like the devil just knows what buttons to push on us? That’s because he does! Listen, the enemy will use whatever we are willing to give him. He doesn’t get that creative because we give him no reason to. How often do we find ourselves circling the same mountain year after year? Just cannot seem to get victory over that one area. Over that one sin. Each day the button gets pushed and we react. Here in this story we see that the devil waits until Jesus is in a weakened position. Forty days and nights without eating. Yes Jesus was God but He was also 100% man and the Scripture here even says that He was hungry. The devil will know when you are hungry too:

    Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. – 1Peter 5: 8 (NLT)

    The devil is on the prowl, constantly. Looking for someone he may devour. Someone’s life he may ruin. He was on the rooftop with David when he saw Bathsheba bathing. He was standing next to Judas when the 30 pieces of silver were offered. Don’t think for a second he is not going to come against you at your greatest moment of need and exploit it! We need to implement the Nehemiah strategy:

    The Jews who lived near the enemy came and told us again and again, “They will come from all directions and attack us!”So I placed armed guards behind the lowest parts of the wall in the exposed areas. I stationed the people to stand guard by families, armed with swords, spears, and bows. – Nehemiah 4: 12-13 (NLT)

    As Nehemiah was rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, he placed guards by the exposed areas. Areas the enemy could have easily attacked and infiltrated from. Areas that needed mending and fixing. Areas that could be taken advantage of. Beloved we have such exposed areas in our lives as well and we need to stands guard at these areas and expect an attack. When we leave our exposed areas unguarded, that is how the enemy infiltrates our lives. Now, let us see the first type of temptation the devil likes to use:

    The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” – Matthew 4: 3 (NIV)

    The devil attacks our physical needs. Jesus is fasting and the devil would like nothing more than to break that fast up before it was supposed to end. The enemy loves to get us to fulfill a legitimate need in an illegitimate manner. There is nothing wrong with Jesus’ hunger. There is nothing wrong with wanting to satisfy it. But using his power to turn stones into bread to break a fast before it was time? That would have been very wrong. There is nothing wrong with wanting to get ahead at work but not if you have to lie or cheat to do so. There is nothing wrong with wanting to earn more money but not at the cost of your integrity. That is really what this is here. It is a temptation to compromise our integrity. We see this going on in churches across this country as pastors are presented with quick and dirty short cuts to increase attendance by compromising the Gospel. On an individual level it could be at work, home, ministry or any area we might be vulnerable in. For King David, the devil attacked him at a legitimate point of need – sex. He presented him however with an illegitimate means to satisfy that desire – a married woman. Thus David fell. A kingdom lost and two dead children later and he realized how he let the enemy nearly ruin his life. Back to Jesus:

    Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” – Matthew 4: 5-6 (NIV)

    The second temptation of Christ. The devil attacks our emotional needs. The devil loves to attack our pride. The devil also loves to misuse Scripture. The devil is quoting Psalm 91 here but he left out the qualifier; “in all your ways.” We do not walk under the shadow of the Almighty without first abiding in the shelter of the Most High. How did the serpent engage Eve in the conversation in the garden? By lying about what God had said:

    The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” – Genesis 3: 1 (NLT)

    The devil knew full well that was not what God had said. He also knew full well the entire context of Psalm 91 when he was tempting Christ. We need to understand that the enemy knows God’s Word probably better than most of us. He will mix just enough truth with just enough poisoned lies meant to kill us if we swallow it. Eve swallowed it and man fell. Jesus, who led a sinless life, of course did not fall for it. That led to the third temptation:

    Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” – Matthew 4: 8-9 (NIV)

    Just as the devil loves to attack our physical and emotional needs – he also attacks our material needs constantly. We live in a hyper-competitive world where the ruling philosophy is “he who dies with the most toys wins.” Yet how many superstars do we see committing suicide or dying far too early from drug abuse, illegal or prescription? How many people who seemingly have met the worlds standards for happiness and fulfillment yet lead miserable and empty lives? We are greedy people and the devil loves to play off that greed. In the Book of Acts there was a couple that was part of the early church who succumbed to this satanic temptation:

    But there was a certain man named Ananias who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property.He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount. With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest.Then Peter said, “Ananias, why have you letSatan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself.The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!” – Acts 5: 1-4 (NLT)

    Why do any of us allow Satan to so fill our hearts? Just as Baal was the most popular idol worshipped in ancient times, Mammon is number one today. Realize that this transcends money beloved. This is Satan selling us on anything of value in this world. It is an attempt to get us to value the temporal riches of earth over the eternal riches of heaven. All one has to do is look to the plethora of prosperity gospels out there perverting the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus said you cannot love the things of this earth. We cannot serve two masters. Paul addressed the plague of prosperity preaching as well:

    You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us. 2Corinthians 2: 17 (NLT)

    The Gospel should only be presented to us with sincerity of heart, authority of Christ and the fear of the Lord. We must remain vigilant in defending our exposed places before the enemy exploits them. We all have needs but the Bible assures us that God will meet all of them according to His riches in Christ Jesus. The scheme of the enemy is to supplant God in our lives to meet those needs. His plan has always been to usurp God. But he has been a liar from the beginning and we need to be aware of his lies and the promises of God that counter them.

    This brings us to our key verses for today. There are several truths we need to remember in our walks. The first one is to never think we have “arrived.” Thinking that we are standing strong doesn’t mean the devil will not find an area to attack. David was standing pretty strong when he sinned with Bathsheba. Peter had just correctly answered that Jesus was the Christ when he found himself rebuking Him for daring to say he had to go to the cross. Arrival is always in our mind only and always a fertile playground for pride and the schemes of the enemy.

    Secondly, God assures us that what we are going through is normal. So normal that He says everyone goes through it. No one is exempt from temptations, regardless of how spiritual they may seem. Remember, the higher up someone goes in ministry, the more they need our prayers because the more the enemy will tempt them to fall. We see this play out nearly every month with one mega church pastor after another falling into sin. Thirdly however – God is faithful! Hallelujah! When we are unfaithful, He remains true to who He is and what He has promised us. He does not shift with the wind beloved:

    God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? Numbers 23: 19 (NLT)

    Fourth, whatever we are going through it will never exceed what we are able to bear. It may not feel like it when we are in the middle of it but God is assuring us here that if we handle things correctly – we will be able to stand. We will be able to resist the devil and he will have to flee from us! This leaves us with the last promise from the key verses – God will show us a way out of the temptation so that we can endure! Does this mean that God will magically show us an escape hatch from our pride or lust, or carnal desires in this world? Yes – He already has. The Word of God is our answer to every temptation the devil can possibly throw at us. How do we know this? Because it was the answer Jesus used when He was being tempted:

    Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” – Matthew 4: 4 (NIV)

    Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” – Matthew 4: 7 (NIV)

    Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” – Matthew 4: 10 (NIV)

    Every time the devil attacked, Jesus answered with the Word of God. Everything that comes out of the devil’s mouth is a lie according the Scripture. It is directly opposite something God has promised us in His Word. That is why we must learn His Word inside and out. Then when the enemy comes at us with his usual schemes we will be prepared to fight back as Jesus did here and persevere through the valley. That perseverance the Bible says is what leads to fullness of maturity in Christ. Amen.

    Reverend Anthony Wade – March 7, 2013


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