The first thing we need to examine...As we learn about Jesus' Temptations...Is whether Jesus COULD actually even BE Tempted in Reality...With the actual Potential of choosing against God's Will! (Peccable) Or was He Tempted in symbolism only?! Incapable of Sinning! (Impeccable)
Many scholars are split on this subject...And the answer greatly affects how we view...Christ's Sufferings IN these Temptations! SO... It is well worth taking a moment to explore! I personally feel the answer is overwhelming…Based upon Scriptural Evidence we read!
Hebrews 2:17-18 (ESV)
17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in EVERY respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has SUFFERED when TEMPTED, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
This Passage says that Jesus was made to be like His brothers in...EVERY WAY!
And that He encountered SUFFERING...BECAUSE of TEMPTATIONS!
The word for temptation in Greek being peirazó (pi-rad'-zo)...Meaning: To test, tempt, scrutinize, or entice! This Passage alone seems to strongly concur with the idea...That Jesus' completely Human Nature...Gave Him the same vulnerability to Temptation as all of us! And that conflict in His Desire to NOT want the Will of God at times...Caused part of His Suffering!
We seem to get an example of this in reality...At the Garden of Gethsemane...
Where Jesus Asks the Father..."Can this Cup be avoided?"
Luke 22:41-42 (HCSB)
41 Then He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and began to pray, 42 “Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me—nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.”
In His Precious Love and Obedience...Jesus Chose the Will of the Father over His Own Will...But the Conflict and Dread in Him was so intense...That He Sweat Blood from the Agony of the Decision!
So first... By Scriptural Declaration... And Example...Jesus seemed to have the Human Ability to NOT Want God's Will! That by definition... Is Temptation!
Another argument in this subject...Is that Jesus was Made Perfectly Sinless... Being the Son of God...And therefore did not even have the Capacity to Choose Against God!But we need to grasp this very Scriptural and revealing Truth...
Adam... Was also CREATED SINLESS and PURE in the Beginning...His humanity in this case... Did NOT mean he was imperfect! The seed of sin did not come until later! But because of his truly FREE WILL...He inherently had the capacity to choose good or evil...Or HOW could He have Won Redemption?
Romans 5:15, 19 (HCSB)
15 ...For if by the one man’s trespass (Adam) the many died, how much more have the grace of God and the gift overflowed to the many by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ... 19 For just as through one man’s disobedience (Adam) the many were made sinners, so also through the one man’s obedience (Jesus) the many will be made righteous.
How do you learn and show obedience...If there is not the capacity for disobedience? Jesus was BORN with a SINLESS NATURE... JUST AS ADAM! But just because He did not Carry our sinful nature...That did NOT mean He had no Free Choice & Opportunity to Sin...Just as Adam did in the beginning!
And why would Satan himself...Who knows Jesus and Scriptures better than anyone...Try so hard to make Jesus Stumble in Temptation...If he knew there was no possibility he might win Jesus over?
How could Jesus truly Relate to us in our Temptations... Relate In Every Way?
How could He truly Redeem us from sin…By remaining sinless as One of us?
If He did not Suffer the SAME Temptations... With the SAME potential outcome...As those He Came to Save?!
Hebrews 4:14-15 (ESV)
14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in EVERY RESPECT has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
It is seemingly a Paradox for sure...But here is the evidence shown in Scriptures... God is NOT capable of Sinning... True…BUT… God is ALSO NOT capable of Dying on a Cross! Yet for His Time on earth as our Redeemer...
Jesus Emptied Himself Completely...Taking on the Form and Frailties of a Human in EVERY WAY! And NEVER will Our Jesus be Capable of Either of these things EVER AGAIN in all of Eternity! (Just like His Redeemed!)
Because as one man brought sin into the world through disobedience...
Being Created sinless...One Man removed sin from the world through OBEDIENCE...Being Created Sinless...BOTH... Living and being Tempted within the Same Boundaries!
Jesus had to Fight Temptation with the Human Frailty of Man...But Jesus WON against Temptation... With the Unfathomable Love of GOD!
In What Ways Was Jesus Tempted?
Though Jesus surely Experienced Temptations throughout His Entire Life...Scriptures Focus especially…Upon one particular season of Jesus' Temptations!
Matthew 4:1 (HCSB)
1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil.
Jesus has just been publicly Baptized, Affirmed by His Father...And Filled with the Spirit of God!
Satan will so often come at a time when you have experienced a wonderful blessing or intimate time with God...In order to strip away the joy and influence of the event! New Christians... Often fight some of their toughest battles...In the beginning of their walk with God! This was the Time which Jesus was taking to Prepare Himself…For the Ministry which He was now Beginning...He Fasted for a very extended time...And He Contemplated all that only HE... Knew was awaiting the days to come!
Matthew 4:2-3 (HCSB)
2 After He had fasted 40 days and 40 nights, He was hungry. 3 Then the tempter approached Him and said, “If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” (Dirty, Alone, Weary, Weak, Starving!)
The Apostle John loosely describes all of the potential sins of man...In three categories:
1 John 2:16 (ESV)
For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.
Here we see Satan tempting Jesus in all three areas...After a very extended time of fasting and prayer...Jesus had an insatiable physical and mental desire for food!
It had to be a constant nagging by this time!...And Satan tempted Jesus with "Lust of the Flesh!"
The natural desire for food was not a sin! Just as food, sexual desires and other things in our lives...Are NOT at all bad of themselves... They are wonderful gifts! But Jesus was Fasting in Obedience and Trust to His Father! His Purpose for the fast was greater than His Needs at the time!
Satan was saying to Jesus: "If you are truly God... Why is the Father letting you suffer like this? You have the Power... You DESERVE better... Make your own food!
It was an attempt to make Jesus give in to a very real desire...That would remove His Focused intentions from Serving God...To Pleasing Self! And would selfishly destroy…The Good Thing God was Intending in His Life!
How many times have you and I given in to sin...To please ourselves in a moment of desire... Rather than trust and fulfill God's Better Plan?! Jesus does not debate, argue, or entertain Satan's idea...Jesus does not react according to His emotions... Or How He is Feeling about His situation!
Jesus confronts the temptation with TRUTH…Which He is Rooted upon! (Eph 6:17 Sword is Word of God!) Removing the conflict!
Matthew 4:4 (HCSB)
4 But He (Jesus) answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Jesus simply and powerfully Proclaims:That to Obey God... Is far more Important and Advantageous...Than to satisfy a temporary desire! So He should Live by Following His Word... Over Desires! Satan takes Jesus' Answer... And twists it into his next Temptation!
Matthew 4:5-6 (HCSB)
5 Then the Devil took Him to the holy city, had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: He will give His angels orders concerning you, and they will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” (Psalm 91)
This is a Temptation in, "The Pride of the Flesh!" Satan is saying to Jesus:
"Ok, so you Trust the Word, do You? The Word Says you can throw yourself off of this pinnacle... (Approx. 450ft)And He Will Save You... If You Truly are His...So show me and everyone who doesn't believe in You... How Blessed and Protected You are of God!"
Satan wanted Jesus to Take His Ministry into His Own Hands... And into His Own Timing... And Get Glory HIS WAY! And Force or Test God's Willingness to Bless it! In Pride of Who He Was... And in Desire to Prove It!
Just as many of us try to make our own way... Even sin…And expect God to Bless us where we choose to go...Rather than Submit to where He Wants to take us in trust! Often even STEPPING OUT in sacrifice...Expecting to "Force God's Hand" in our show of "Faith!"
God Promises to Protect and Provide when we are FOLLOWING...NOT LEADING! Because Trust and Intimacy with Him...Is more important than sacrifice with selfish motives behind them!
Jesus Could Have Debated... Over-thought... Even Justified...How Satan's suggestion would be advantageous and deserved! But... Jesus immediately Goes Back to the Foundation of Truth...Avoiding the conflict and haze...And He Confronts Temptation with Nothing but the Word!
Matthew 4:7 (HCSB)
Jesus told him, “It is also written: Do not test the Lord your God.”
Meaning these Promises are there for Blessing in Obedience...NOT for us to test God's Existence or Loyalty to us...At our whim!
Then... In a Last Attempt... Satan puts all of the cards on the table!
Matthew 4:8-9 (HCSB)
8 Again, the Devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 And he said to Him, “I will give You all these things if You will fall down and worship me.”
Here... Satan Tempts Jesus with, "The Desires of the Eyes!" Offering Jesus literally, "The World!" as His Own! Because that is exactly what Jesus Came to Win Back! But Satan was offering it without all of the...Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Hell...Jesus would literally Suffer in His Journey to Save US!
Jesus could Have the Fame, Power, Control... The Kingdom! And bypass all of the Self-Sacrifice and Pain! And simply Take what was His without Struggle! But He would also Sacrifice OUR Redemption...He would Sacrifice His Precious Relationship with the Father...He would Sacrifice the True Love and Oneness we were Created for!
The Sin was in putting what He Wanted… And even Deserved!Ahead of God… And anything it would do to others... The Sin was taking the Way which would make it Easy for Him... No matter the consequences!
The Sin was in giving His Allegiance to Satan...To Get what He Wanted!
So many of US are willing to bow to Satan and his ways...To satisfy our own Lust of the Eyes!
Breaking God's Commands, Trust and Love...For that relationship... Material possessions... Acceptance! We may not realize we are bowing to Satan to get them... But every choice we make against God's Love and Will... Is giving our allegiance to His enemy!
Jesus did not Argue about whether this was a legitimate offer! Because He Knew that in this moment... The world WAS Satan's to give! Because we had given it to him in our sins!
John 14:30-31 (ESV)
30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here. (god of this world, prince)
THIS TEMPTATION WAS WHERE JESUS DREW THE LINE! And again... Using the Word as His Guide...He Tells Satan where His Love and Allegiance Stood...
Then He Commands him to be gone!
Matthew 4:10-11 (HCSB)
10 Then Jesus told him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.” 11 Then the Devil left Him, and immediately angels came and began to serve Him.
In every Temptation...Jesus did not Consider how it made Him FEEL...He did not Consider what was best for HIM at the time...He Trusted God's Word and Way...
And DID WHAT WAS CONSIDERED RIGHT BY THAT WORD...Selflessly... Without Hesitation, Emotion or Debate...For the Sake of God and Others... Above Himself!
And the Devil was defeated! But it is clear this was NOT the ONLY TIME Satan Tempted Christ...Because Luke gives us more detail about Satan as he departs...
Luke 4:13 (HCSB)
After the Devil had finished every temptation, he departed from Him for a time.
Satan departs... FOR A TIME!
Jesus was the Key to Stopping the entire Plan of Redemption...It is certain that Satan placed every stumbling block conceivable... In His Path... Every step of the Way!
Jesus was Tempted everyday... Just as we are... Much more so! He Befriended... And Loved many unlovable, rejected people...In lowly positions of society!
Do you not think many women shown real love for the first time...Would not have made themselves available to Him? Look at the prostitute who cleaned His Feet with her hair alone!
What about when He was ridiculed and beaten…By the Sanhedrin Circus Court? What about when His closest friends…Showed no care or concern for Him…As He explained how He was going to Die on His lat Night?
What about when thousands flocked to Him...And He knew it was simply for their own benefit and profit? What about when He would watch…As Romans and Hebrew brothers alike...Ridicule and reject His own precious mother?
What about when His Flesh was torn from His Back & Sides…By hooks and shards of bone? What about while He Hung on the Cross Miserably Dying...
And was mocked by selfish devils around Him?
WOULD THESE HAVE BEEN TEMPTING MOMENTS…FOR YOU TO SIN?!
Then they WERE for the HUMAN Emotions of JESUS as well! But... He Chose God above Himself...He Chose Love for YOU... Above Himself...
And He did not SIN! THAT WAS THE KEY...Selfless Love... Over Selfish Pride!
The Easy Way Out!
NOW LISTEN A MOMENT…Some have argued... And you may have even felt this way yourself...That Jesus did not Taste the FULL WEIGHT of Temptation...
Because He was Never Tempted until He FAILED! But… THAT is EXACTLY WHY Jesus Suffered Greater Temptation...Than any man has ever endured!!
If two men are running a marathon...And one gives in to the pain at just 3 miles...
But the other endures the pain until the end...Which one gave into his own desire quicker...And which one suffered through more Temptation to continue?
If two men are tempted to cheat on their wives...And one man gives in quickly to his lust...But the other continues to resist temptation to the end...Which one suffered longer and harder in trials...And which one satisfied himself on the easy road!
When the crowd ridicules a Christian... Calling them soft or weak...
Because that person will not do drugs, cheat on their spouse, watch porn, show hatred, live together...Or any other temptation the crowd has given themselves over to...It is THAT ONE who stands strong in their Love for God and Others... Over self...THAT ONE who stands strong in their Faith...THAT ONE... Has endured far more pain and struggle...IN THEIR TEMPTATION...
THAT ONE has shown the MOST STRENGTH OF ALL!
Rather than giving into...Selfishness...Cowardliness... Peer pressure... Weakness! Making the mocking crowd... The soft and weak ones! Jesus Our King... Endured every Temptation you and I have felt... Exponentially intensified...
Guaranteed by Satan! He Suffered more ridicule and persecution for doing so...
Than you and I could even imagine!
He Overcame it all...By Loving God and US... More than Himself...By Having the Courage to Suffer through... Rather than take the Easy road...Trusting that God's Word is True and Good!
By not following His Emotions, Fears and Anxieties...By not debating or justifying...But simply... Knowing and Following God's Will!
How about YOU?!
Has your pride... Your reputation... Your selfishness... Your Lust…Left you weak and soft? Like the rest of the world? While duping you into thinking you are the strong one? The smart one?
He Endured these Temptations... These Sufferings for YOU...He Took your name for Himself and Walked to the Grave on your behalf!
Now... In your freedom... Bought by His Sacrifice...Is He not Worthy of your COURAGE and TRUST?! STAND ON HIS WORD UNASHAMEDLY...
EVEN IF YOU STAND ALONE!
DRAW THE LINE RIGHT NOW... AND TAKE BACK FROM SATAN...WHAT YOU LOST IN HIS TEMPTATIONS!
FOR THE GLORY AND LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST! HE... IS... WORTHY!
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