Some readers might think that in light of my last post, this one is out of place. I was just writing about overcoming sin and now I'm diving into temptation. Huh? But I believe it's needful that the two go hand in hand.
Do you think there will ever be a time in your life as a Christian that you will not face temptation?
I said the same thing you probably did. "I wish!" Wouldn't life and godliness be so much easier? (By the way, the Bible says we already have everything we need for that.) But when I look at scripture, I know that it will never happen and Jesus even said that temptation is needful. I also see that Jesus faced all the same temptations we do, so why should we be exempt?
When people talk about Jesus being tempted, probably the most referenced passage is Luke 4:1-13. But it seems sometimes that when I (or others) read this passage, a few details tend to get overlooked. Here Jesus spent forty days fasting and praying in the wilderness and was tempted by the devil. Verse 13 says "And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time." The KJV says "he departed from him for a season."
I see a few important things here. First of all, it seems that there was a lot more temptation going on during this event than was actually recorded. And my guess is, if Satan is going to try to get the Son of God to sin, the one man who is out to redeem the world from Satan's evil grip and the curse of sin, he's not going to give up after three attempts. There was possibly a more intense battle going on here than we read about, and it didn't end here. Which leads to my second point. Satan only left Jesus until he had a better opportunity. We really don't know how much temptation Jesus actually faced in His lifetime, but He too had to face it on an ongoing basis. And lastly, Jesus went into the wilderness after His baptism being filled with Holy Spirit, and in verse 14 it says that He returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit. He went through it all in the power of the Spirit.
You see, sometimes we want to whine and plead with God to just make all this temptation go away and thus end our struggle with sin. But the fact is, as long as we're living in the flesh and this fallen world, it's just going to happen. We can't make it go away. But Galatians 5:16 clearly tells us that if we walk in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Through the Spirit's power, we can stand against temptation.
One of the things I find temptation does is keep me humble and I dare say that's a good thing. I can easily become puffed up thinking I'm more righteous than the next person. But when I come face to face with hard temptation, I am reminded of my great need for God's grace and that I have to rely on His power to overcome sin. It reminds me that He is the one who makes me worthy of being His child, because in this flesh, I have no worth of my own.
Yes, temptation will come, but it doesn't mean defeat. If we yield ourselves to the Spirit of God, we can be overcomers.