2006-02-28 - Temptations: Victory
Having examined the results and types of temptation, let's turn towards overcoming the temptations.
The first thing to be noticed is a similarity on the surface anyway. It is written; God hath said. Eve and Jesus both quoted God's word. Eve made parts of it up, but Jesus knew it all. They werent the only ones, though, with the God-said's and the it-is-writtens. The devil knew God's word as well, for he twisted it with both of them. In Genesis, it says the serpent was "subtil", "clever", or "cunning". The same Hebrew word is elsewhere translated as "wise" or "prudent". The serpent was wise, held a sharp twisted piece of steel. Eve came to the fight with a piece of balsa. But, Jesus came with iron sharpened in God's forge. Jesus used it to fight back. James 4:7 says, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." We are to fight the devil, to attack using the sword of the Lord God's word. However, to wield it, you must know how to use it. That is why the psalmist wrote, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." (Psalms 119:11) The first key in overcoming temptation is increased knowledge of God's word.
Notice with the first temptation how Jesus turned his focus from his physical hunger to spiritual things, but Eve stayed focused on the food. I believe Jesus recognized that at that point, after 40 days of fasting, hunger was a weakness - so he chose not to dwell on it. He fled the temptation and focused his energies elsewhere. Eve did not. Jesus overcame the temptation. Eve did not. If you try not to think about something, you will think about it; instead, you must just think of something else. "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." (Philippians 4:8b) By flipping to these good things, we will cast down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5) We must distance ourselves from wicked thoughts. The second key is increased closeness to Godly thinking.
In verse 10 from Matthew, we see confidence in our Savior. Jesus told the devil, "Don't mess with me. Don't you know better than to tempt God? Just go!" Eve seemingly invited him to pull up a chair and sit a spell. Often times I feel guilty for just having a temptation pop into my head; I feel defeated immediately and refuse to fight, but I shouldn't. Don't be intimidated; don't be polite and civil when it comes to the lures of sin. We need the same boldness and authority dealing with temptations that Jesus had. We must recognize that if God is for us, nothing can stand against us. (Romans 8:31) Do not tuck your tail and cower to every temptation, giving in as soon as temptation knocks. Stand firm in God's strength and authority.
And be sure that Jesus wouldn't have let temptation knock, if he did not know you had the strength to not go to the door. (1 Corinthians 10:13) Be confident, but do not be confident of yourself, because pride comes before destruction. (Proverbs 16:18) "Don't be so naive and self-confident. You're not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it's useless. Cultivate God-confidence." (1 Corinthians 6:12 MSG) The third key in overcoming temptation is increased confidence in God. I struggle with temptations. There are some areas that kick my rear repeatedly, but that is no reason to give up. I must get up. I cannot quit. None of us can. We must get up when we fall and fight again. We're not called to be perfect and righteous, but to pursue them diligently. "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." (Philippians 2:12) Christ has brought salvation's victory from the eternal consequences of sin, but the day-to-day victories are up to us. Fight the good fight, my brothers and sisters.
All scripture references from KJV unless otherwise noted