In last week’s devotional, The Wilderness Experience, Part 5, we discovered that everything in life can, potentially, be a false god, if we make it our focal point.
This was the last of Jesus’ temptations, but there are still three major lessons to be learned from this experience. The first is this: How did Jesus resisted each temptation when we fail so miserably?
1 Peter 5 gives us some important insight into how to resist the devil, and if you look at Jesus’ life, you will see that He rigidly followed each of these suggestions:
1) “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand . . .” (1 Peter 5:6). Despite the fact that He IS God, Jesus spent His entire ministry doing just this. When questioned about His power, He said: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing . . .” (John 5:19-20 NIV)
2) “Cast all your anxiety on him . . .” (1 Peter 5:7) Even in the final hours before His crucifixion, we find Jesus in the Garden, nearly overcome with anxiety. Yet His prayer goes like this: “. . .not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42-43 NIV)
3) “Be self-controlled and alert.” (1 Peter 5:8) Jesus always knew what God was up to, and He was always ready to do His part. How? Prayer! Jesus often got up early in the morning to pray (see Mark 1:35), and sometimes He spent entire nights in prayer.
4) “Resist him, standing firm in the faith . . .” (1 Peter 5:9) Note that each time Jesus was tempted, He responded to the devil with a direct quote from God’s Word: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Deut. 8:3); “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Deut. 6:16); and “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” (Deut. 6:13) Jesus resisted the devil by standing firmly upon God’s Word!
One more thing that helped Jesus withstand temptation is this: One of the primary reasons that we, as humans, succumb so easily to temptation is that we are dissatisfied. We are seeking something more than what we have. Jesus, on the other hand, was NOT dissatisfied! He stood firmly on God’s love. He knew who He was in God, and He knew God personally. He was rooted and grounded upon a strong foundation, and nothing could shake Him. When we also root ourselves upon the firm foundation of Christ, we, too, will never be shaken: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matt 7:24-25 NIV)
If it seems hard to follow this winning formula, don’t feel bad; it IS hard! But take heart. God will never ask us to do anything that He will not personally assist us in doing. Remember: “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:13 NIV). Also remember that our weakness work to bring about the power of Christ! “He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'” (2 Cor 12:9 NIV)
The second lesson to be learned from Jesus’ wilderness experience can be found in Matt 4:11: “Then the devil left him . . .”
Doesn’t it always seem like trials and temptations come at you all at once? It’s never just one temptation; it’s more like feeling bombarded! The next time you feel this way, take courage! Jesus knows how you feel! After fasting for 40 days in the wilderness He was subjected to every temptation known to man (“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 . . .” Heb. 4:15) And remember: Jesus received them all at once!
So often we do stand firm. We are strong. But then that one last temptation comes along, and we just feel like we can’t be strong any long! Whenever this happens, friends, pray that God will remind you of Jesus’ wilderness experience. He withstood ALL temptations known to man, all at once! Then remind yourself of what the Bible records at the end of the temptations: “Then the devil left him . . .”!
Take courage! The battle will NOT last forever! God will never allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear, with His help: “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.” (1 Cor 10:13 NIV); and “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7-8 NASB).
This brings us to the last lesson to be learned. When the battle was finally over, the Bible records one last thing: “and angels came and attended him.” (Matt. 4:11)
When we’ve been involved in Spiritual warfare, it leaves us feeling all beat up, like our world has literally fallen apart. You have piles of bills and no money, for example, but you stand firm. You resist the temptation to worry. You claim God’s promises, and He comes through for you. How do you feel? Elated, yes, but also tired! You withstood, but you sure hope there isn’t another battle around the corner!
Take heart, friends! When it’s all over, God doesn’t leave you, beaten and torn, on the side of the road! He will send His angels to attend to you! Our part is to simply sit back and watch where God is at work to bring us comfort and peace!
Enough to ponder, but do ponder this: We can resist temptation by following Jesus’ example, ever knowing that the battle won’t last forever. And when it is over, we can rest assured that God is there to comfort, sustain, strengthen and prepare us for the battles that lie ahead!
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Mother of two teens, Speech-Language Pathologist, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, www.scripturalnuggets.org , with Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org .
(To access the entire “The Wilderness Experience” mini-series, please click here.)