Monday, March 1, 2021
Matthew 4:1, 1 Corinthians 10:13
I want to ask you a question, but I kind of know the answer already. I'll ask it anyway... Have you ever been tempted to do, think, or say something that you know was not going to be pleasing to God? Of course you have. We are all tempted in various ways, and not one of us has never been tempted. we face temptation as a part of the Christian life.
Today, I want to talk to you a little bit about that. we know that we have an enemy, Satan, who is trying to trip us up and get us to fall in our faith, to fall spiritually. In fact, Scripture tells us that Satan is like a lion who prowls around looking to devour victims. I was reading recently during my quiet time in the Gospel of Matthew, and when I came upon chapter four, I was stopped dead in my tracks and just fascinated by what verse one said: Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. That just struck me because Jesus faced temptation just like we did and as you go through and you read that story, it's really cool to see how Jesus overcame that. We'll talk more about that in a moment.
As I started researching it and looking at my study Bible and cross-references, it became very clear to me that there's a parallel between the temptation that Jesus faced in the desert and the nation of Israel. The people of Israel, as you probably know, were held captive in Egypt as slaves for 400 years. They were led out of Egypt by the Lord and they came to the Red Sea. If you remember the story, God parted the Red Sea when the Egyptian army was just about to attack them. God allowed them to walk through that Red Sea on dry land and then He closed it up again on the Egyptians. That's a picture of baptism; God bringing us through the water. keep that in mind, that's going to be important. After God brought them through the Red Sea, Israel was in the desert and they wandered in the desert for 40 years. While they were in the desert, they were tempted by the other nations and they were tempted to leave their commitment to the Lord and follow the gods of other nations, and to follow the sins of the flesh. Many of them in fact, tens of thousands of them, died in the desert there in their sin because of that temptation.
The parallel to Jesus is this: Jesus, when he was born, his earthly father, Joseph, took him and his mother Mary to Egypt to escape King Herod who wanted to kill Jesus. when King Herod had died, after a period of time passed, Joseph brought Mary and Jesus back to Israel. So it fulfilled a prophecy that God would bring his Messiah out of Egypt. So you should be starting to see a parallel there. Jesus, to begin His earthly ministry, was baptized, just like the Israelites went through the Red Sea. that's a picture of baptism. Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. Then after that, Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert. the Israelites went into the desert and were there for 40 years. Jesus was there for 40 days, fasting and preparing him for the temptations of Satan. But here's the difference: Jesus overcame those temptations. Israel (many of them) did not.
Here's the cool thing. Jesus quoted scripture to Satan, to overcome him and to be that temptation. He quoted the book of Deuteronomy, which is a retelling of the history of the nation of Israel while they were in the desert. it's also a book for the readers to be warned. it's a warning to not fall into the same trap and the same temptations that the Israelites fell in. That's the book that Jesus used to overcome the temptations of Satan. I find that really cool because you and I can also overcome temptation the way that Jesus did through fasting and through the Word of God. Fasting allows us to give up something, like food or some kind of physical need, so that we can draw closer to God. It also helps us to that we can understand His will, listen for His voice in our lives, and so we can tell Him "this is so important God, I want to overcome this temptation or this sin in my life, I'm going to go without items so that I can fully rely on you." Fasting is a great tool to strengthen us and help us to overcome such temptation, but so is the Word of God. are you studying the Bible? are you reading it daily? before you read the Bible, ask God for His Holy Spirit to give you understanding and guidance to what you're reading so that you can overcome temptation and be strong. You can memorize scripture, which will also help you in those times of temptation to come back against the enemy with the truth of God to overcome his lies.
So when you're tempted, I really want to encourage you to remind yourself that the same Spirit that led Jesus into the desert to be tempted is the same Spirit that will lead you out of the desert that you're in when you are tempted and facing sin. God will give you the strength to overcome. In fact, I want to close by sharing with you 1 Corinthians 10:13, which says this: "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man." We all face temptations, and many of them are the same as what Paul is telling us here. We're not special and we all face these similar temptations. He goes on to say, "and God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."
I really want to pray for you, and for me, that as we face temptation, that we can seek that way out, that we can listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit to lead us out and not ignore that voice and fall prey to temptation and sin that Satan sets up for us as a trap. So let's pray. Father, thank you for today. I pray that we listen for that voice and seek that way out. May we know your word more profoundly and more intimately in our lives so that we can be strong. May we periodically fast Lord so that we can draw closer to you and rely on you. Father, to seek your way out that you've provided when we are tempted. Thank you, Father, for this in Jesus' name. Amen. Hey, don't just have a great day. Go and make a great day.