Does "temptation" still exist in the 21st Century?
Well, there are a lot of companies and people depending on its presence in our global marketplace. A temptation can be as big as buying a mansion and as small as buying a solid state 64-gigabyte disc no larger than a quarter. A temptation can cause a king like David to murder an innocent man and a disciple like Judas to betray Jesus.
Today's Devotional Scripture
But remember this....no temptation is irresistible. You can trust God to keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it, for He has promised this and will do what He says. He will show you how to escape temptation's power so that you can bear up patiently against it. (1 Corinthians 10:13, The Living Bible)
Jesus Defeats Temptation
Online dictionaries define "temptation" as "the act of tempting enticement or allurement; something that tempts, entices or allures, and the fact or state of being tempted, especially to evil." Dictionary.com uses the temptation of Christ by Satan in Matthew 4 as an example.
It seems like a great place to start. How did Jesus combat temptation as He faced Satan in the desert?
The temptations that Jesus endured in this encounter in Matthew 4 defined what type of Messiah he would be during his public ministry. The first temptation had to do with an abuse of power to satisfy personal desires and Jesus waved it off by saying men live on the Word of God and not on bread alone (Matthew 4:4).
The second temptation was the enticement of winning people over with miracles and wonders. Jesus' response was "do not put the Lord your God to the test" (Matthew 4:7, Deuteronomy 6:16).
Signs and wonders are not necessarily an indication that someone is committed to and serving God's purpose. In Matthew 24, Jesus talks about the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the signs of the "End Times." He warns his followers of false messiahs and false prophets who "will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect" (Matthew 24:24).
The third temptation is the most dangerous of all - making Satan equal to God. Jesus wouldn't do it and we shouldn't either. The Son of God tells his opponent: "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.'" (Matthew 4:10, Deuteronomy 6:13).
Wow! If Satan can tempt Jesus, what chance do we stand against the devil?
Paul's Wise Counsel to the Corinthians
Apparently, this concern was also shared by the followers of Jesus in the church at Corinth. And the Apostle Paul confronts it in four Spirit-inspired ways.
First, he educates the Corinthians. He spends the first 10 verses of 1 Corinthians 10 reciting the history of Israel. Then Paul says in verse 11 that these are examples that we can learn from. If Paul were here today, he would tell us to read The Bible. Jesus knew God's Word. Paul understood the Holy Scriptures. What is our excuse?
Second, the Apostle Paul tells the Christians in Corinth (and us) to "trust God" (verse 13). The God who sent Jesus Christ to die for our sins won't let us down.
If we all understood the many names of God that appear in The Bible, we'd find it a lot easier to trust Him. Here are just three examples of His name: Elohim (the God of power and might), Jehovah-Rohi (the Lord my shepherd) and Jehovah-Jireh (the Lord will provide).
Third, the best advice in dealing with temptation is to "run away" from it. If you think I am kidding, the New Living Translation of 1 Corinthians 6:18: says: "Run from sexual sin!" Don't even give a moment of consideration to temptation.
Fourth, remember and participate in communion. What?
The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 that we need to remember the blood and body of Jesus that was sacrificed on the cross. The church I attend calls it "communion" and we celebrate this sacrament every Sunday. It is a reminder that Jesus paid our debt to sin and death. He won and we share in His victory.
I suspect there are many people reading this article who have already been tempted. My wife Lori likes to say that "we must be doing something right or Satan wouldn't be after us." Of course, she's right. She's a strong Christian and a wife of good character and I am too smart to disagree with her.
I also agree with Matthew West in the video attached to this article. I am not strong enough to defeat temptation on my own. West reminds us that we have divine assistance in this ongoing battle.
Heavenly Father, thank you that I can trust you to keep every temptation from becoming too strong for me to resist. Show me how to escape temptation's power so that I can bear up patiently and confidently against it. In Jesus' name. Amen.
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