There is absolutely no temptation that man faces that is beyond his ability to resist. “There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor 10:13). Man is not born evil and is not predetermined by God to practice sin. When any man is tested by life’s situation, he has two choices: he can yield to the lust of the flesh or he can resist it.
Temptation is no different today than it was during the life of Jesus. Adam and Eve faced the desires of the flesh, the appeals to the eyes, and the lust for glory and honor (1 Jn 2:15-16). So it was with Jesus and so it is with us. These tests are part of the world of evil, and their influence has not changed since the beginning of time.
Adam and Eve knew the fruit was good for food and Jesus knew the stone turned to bread would satisfy His hunger. The first man and woman saw the fruit was pleasant to look upon and our Lord saw the vast kingdoms of men as a domain over which He could rule. (Gen 3:1-6 f; Matt 4:1-11). Why did Adam and Eve yield to temptation while Jesus resisted it?
Jesus Knew Who He Was
Jesus resisted temptation to change a stone to bread and eat because He knew who He was. Jesus understood that He was not just a breathing, thinking, mass of flesh. He understood that within His body was a spirit that was eternal. He possessed a spirit that could not survive on bread. When appeals of the flesh violate God’s will, they defile the spirit of man and are destructive to his whole being. Jesus knew that and resisted the fleshly appeal of Satan with words that every man must live by: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt 4:4).
Jesus Trusted God
Jesus resisted temptation because He trusted God. When God assured Him of protection and care, Jesus did not have to put God to the test to see if He really meant what He said. “You shall not tempt the Lord your God” is a truth Jesus believed deeply and practiced. So it must be with all men. When mankind trusts God that sin is detrimental, destructive, and debilitating spiritually, he will no longer need to experiment to see if it is so. Those who believe God knows that anger, revenge, lack of forgiveness, drunkenness, sexual immorality, lying, cheating, dishonesty, and all that God has forbidden is eternally destructive (1 Cor 6:9,10 f; Gal 5:19-21). Believers trust God and need not put Him to the test to see if it is so (Matt 4:5-7).
Jesus Served God
Finally, Jesus resisted temptation because He knew whom He must serve. “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve” is Jesus’ response to Satan’s third temptation. Jesus knew why He had come to earth and was fully aware of His purpose and goal. He was determined to honor God and serve Him and Him only. Only those who understand that they are God’s creation and are created for His purpose can resist the desires of the flesh that interfere with that goal. They see the bigger, eternal picture and its enduring quality, and opt to look beyond the near-sighted vision of earthly, temporal pleasures, and pursuits (Matt 4:8-11).
Faithful Christians learn to run from fornication (1 Cor 6:18). They learn to suffer perseuction with the people of God, rather than to enjoy temporary satisfaction with the people of the world (Heb 11:25). They learn the scriptures and put on the whole armor of God in order to fight worldly peasures (2 Tim 2:15 f; Eph 6:11-18) .
Resisting temptation is not a grit-your-teeth, clinch-your-fist, gut-wrenching decision man makes each day in his fight against the appeals of Satan. It is the fruit of the Spirit in a man’s heart who knows he is more than a body, who believes God’s wisdom can be trusted, and who sees the eternal purpose of his few years here on earth. They heed the warning of the wise preacher who said, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Eccl 12:13,14)
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