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THE TEMPTATION'S OF CHRIST

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The Temptation of Christ

 

1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

 

Luke 4:1-14, Matt. 4 1-11

 Luke says that immediately after His baptism the Holy Spirit drove Jesus out to the wild, harsh, Judean desert where He fasted for forty days.  God often used the desert as a crucible for preparing prophets.  Moses, Elijah, and John the Baptist all spent long periods of time in the desert in preparation for their life’s ministry.  Desert life is an enigma, it offers extremes of temperature, exceedingly heat during the day, and chilly and cold at night and where everything seems to have thorns, horns or bites.  Yet the desert can be incredibly beautiful and peaceful, stimulating deep thinking.   This became the harsh, hot, dry stage for one of earth’s epic battles, between the devil and the Son of God.  Most people think Jesus was only tempted three times, however, Luke points out that Jesus was tempted for forty days and nights while he was fasting in the desert.  Also, keep in mind Jesus was tempted and tested His entire life, especially during His three and half years of ministry.   These scriptures indicate however, that this was a period of intense testing.   The gospels don't  specify what took place during those forty days.  But, you can bet Lucifer planned his campaign with meticulous care.  What we do know is that Jesus was tested in every way:

14  Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin.

 

Heb. 4:14-15

Temptation

 

Before we examine the epic battle of wills, let's look at the meaning of temptation.  The word tempt means to entice, to do wrong by promise of pleasure or gain.”  The bible defines the action of sin as a three step process; James 1:14-15.

 

14. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.  15. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

James 1:14-15

 Step one: Identify the lust of the heart. 

 The word “lust” means a longing or craving, a wish; sexual appetite; an expressed wish.   Over the thousands of years of human history, the devil and his armies of demons have skillfully studied humans, learning to identify human weaknesses, to pinpoint the lust of our heart.  Once they identify a weakness they move to step two.

Step Two: Enticement

The word “entice” means to draw on by exciting hope or desire; to allure or attract; to stimulate or excite.  The devil and his demons are master's of stimulating our desires.  They know how to manipulate our five senses; sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch in by triggering our most intimate passions.  They whisper in a sultry voice, “No one will ever know! No one will see! Nothing will happen!  You won’t get pregnant!  You won’t become addicted. Don’t worry just think how good it's going to  feel! Just do it!,  What can happen?”

To get a mental image of this process, consider the example of a fish and a fishing lure. 

Fish have very simple desires in life, to eat, sleep, survive and make more little fishes.  Picture a bass swimming along, hungry, with a rumbly in his tumbly.   He hears a plop in the water and looks up and see's what looks like a wounded minnow struggling through the water.  Food!  His stomach starts to growl.  But warnings go off in his tiny little fish brain, “minnows

don’t swim in the open water like that!” He reasons to himself, “but this one is wounded and all alone.  All I have to do is race out of these weeds and grab it before some other fish does.”  He watches the lure wobbling through the water.  His stomach rumbles, he's getting hungrier by the second.  What should he do? Stay in the safety of the weeds and go hungry?  Or, swim out as fast as he can and  suck in the minnow, then race back to the safety of the weeds?  

Fishing lures are designed to attract and excite fish, fooling them into thinking that what they  “see” is an easy meal.  Their desireto eat” is stimulated.  The enticement, “the lure,” looks and moves like a wounded minnow, frog or insect; their favorite foods.  What the fish doesn’t know is the lure has hooks hidden in it.

The fish continues to watch the lure wobbling through the water.  His stomach rumbles, the lure looks so good he has to have it.  In a flash he makes his decision, shoots out of the weeds flying through the water, closes his eyes and sucks the lure into his mouth.  That's when the pain begins.  The experience is far from what he expected.  The hook in the lure bites into his jaw.  In desperation he tries to fight and swim back to safety.  But the hook in his mouth pulls him relentlessly from the safety of his home, into an environment he would have never chosen, then death.

Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death (James 1:15) .

 Satan’s lures however, are much subtle then a fishing lure.  He displays sin in beautiful, alluring packages, hiding the hooks until he has his victim where he wants them.   That’s when he sets the hook and drags his victims down the slippery spiral of sin, pulling his victims to a spiritual death.

 13  No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 stand up under it.

1 Corinthians 10:13

With Jesus, you know Satan pulled out all the stops, expertly casting out every form of temptation, every stimulating lure in his arsenal, in an effort to entice Jesus into sinning.  Some of the attacks were probably subtle and deceiving, others blatant in the face temptations.  Every smell, every taste, every image, every sound, supernaturally stimulated and aroused a craving. Nothing was held back. 

Keep in mind that Satan had already used his considerable skills to lure one third  of all the angels In heaven to rebel against God (Revelation 12:4).  So, he was and is consummately skilled at his trade.  This was a battle royal, the devil and his minions assaulting Jesus in every conceivable way imaginable, attempting to entice Him into succumbing to sin.  Remember, Lucifer/Satan is evil personified with no morals, no scruples, and no compassion whatsoever.  This was  no holds barred, spiritual warfare at its most intense, deadliest level.  The prince of darkness with his hosts of demons versus the Son of God, set in one of the harshest deserts in the world.

Jesus was Satan’s ultimate challenge; the Son of God, born both human and divine which is a concept hard for us to wrap our minds around.  Was Jesus born with all the natural urges of a normal human man?  I  believe so.  He, like us, had choices.  I think that because He was fully man and fully God, He had greater insight into the danger of sin to aide Him in His choices.  I believed that when the devil tempted Jesus, Jesus chose to follow God's commands rather than fall for the devils lies and deceit.   Jesus was able to stand His ground more firmly because He'd studied and applied God's word to His life and headed the counsel of the Holy Spirit implicitly.  He completely understood the "Why" behind each commandment and its purpose. He set the example for us to follow.

Here is something to think about.  Why did God provide commands/guidelines for us to follow?  I believe that the ten commandments are in essence, a summation of all the commandments given by God to the children of Israel.  Every single commandment is for our benefit and for the benefit of those around us!

Exodus 20 And God spoke all these words:

  1. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. “You shall have no other gods beforeme.  
  2. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
  3. “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work,  but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.  For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Read each commandment slowly and ask yourself, how does this protect me and the people around me?  Some are easy, some are a little more challenging.  But you should see that there is a purpose behind each commandment.  I believe that Jesus being fully God and fully human understood those reasons and choose to abide by God's rules.  Jesus was not a robot incapable of human feelings or desires. I believe His body was exactly like our bodies with all five senses, feelings, emotions etc.  Jesus even allowed Satan to take his best shots at Him during a time when He was physically weakest.    This prince of darkness had successfully seduced the first sinless man Adam into sinning. Now he'd set his target on the second sinless man, the Son of God.  But here's the major difference.  Adam had never experienced the concentrated type of temptation the devil aimed at him.  Therefore he was innocent, completely unaware of the deadly consequence of sin.    He knew God's warning, "Do not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil."  However, he'd never experienced sin and it's deadly consequences.  Adam was unprepared for the, lie's, lures and enticements Satan used. Jesus, on the other hand knew well the deadly seriousness of sin and was prepared to defend Himself.   There was no lust, no weakness, no sin, no crack in Jesus' armor.  Let's examine this epic battle of wills over the next few weeks to see how Jesus dealt with temptation and sin! 

 

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