Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted[a] by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. Luke 4:1-2
Everybody encounters temptation. Yes, everyone. No one is immune, including Jesus. If He was tested, then so can we. At the core of every temptation, we come face-to-face with a question that exposes our heart: Can God be trusted? The heart of temptation is trust. Whether we realize it or not, our ability to withstand temptation hinges on our confidence in God. It might sound odd, but temptation is a byproduct of love because love requires the option for it to be rejected.
Unfortunately, in the midst of the trial, we fix our eyes on ourselves, and as a result, our wants trump everything else. Every temptation forces us to question our identity as well as His goodness by putting us in the center. It works to disintegrate the wholeness we desperately want to experience.
When we give in to temptation, we stop believing God cares and is sovereign, so we resort to taking matters into our own hands, which always leads to trouble. Sin breaks trust. We get swept up in the moment and foolishly believe that the only thing at stake is our needs, our wants, and our desires.
However, with every temptation, there is always more at stake than we think. We know numerous individuals who destroyed their reputation, legacy, and integrity by giving into temptation. It’s easy for us to see someone else’s future being at stake when they’re wrestling or making bad choices, yet, when we’re in the thick of it, we can’t see beyond “the now.”
Some of us have been scared, hurt or influenced by another individual’s inability to deal with temptation. Maybe it was a parent, family member, friend or co-worker. Their choices had ramifications on us, which means our decisions do as well. They create a ripple effect and touch others, especially those in our sphere of influence.
Most importantly, our faith hangs in the balance during those moments of temptation. Even though we can’t lose our salvation, every time we sin, we weaken our relationship with God, we damage our accountability with God, and we hurt our intimacy with God.
What was at stake when Jesus faced temptation? WE WERE. Our hope, freedom, and life hung in the balance. If He gave into the immediate, our eternity would forever be changed. Everybody faces temptation. And on some level, everybody has fallen to it. Everybody but Jesus.
When Jesus came to die for our sins, He didn’t just come to pay for it; He came to free us from the power of sin. He not only broke the power of sin over us for eternity, but also right here, and right now. The temptations won’t go away, but when we understand what is lying below the surface in these testings, we will find the power to pause and stand firm in Him. The wilderness feels God-forsaken, but the wilderness is God ordained. It’s in these moments where we face resistance and resistance builds strength.
- Where do you feel like wandering? How did you arrive in this place of wilderness? What is the thing you want or need the most?
God, may I not take the power of temptation lightly. Instead, allow me to examine and notice the things that pull at my heart and entice me. When I meet resistance, help me to stand strong, fully confident that You are the source of my every need. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.