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Jesus said: follow me: what happens next?
By Henry Jaegers
"Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. (Matthew 4:1)
Have you ever considered the meaning of this verse? Have you ever thought that the temptation was part of God's will for your life? It was so, even from the very beginning when God instructed Adam and Eve to refrain from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You may ask the question, why did God allow Satan to enter the garden at all? I don't know if we have an answer to that, but I do know, that for Adam and Eve to have their faithfulness tested, the temptation was necessary.
But then we must consider that both Satan and God have their purposes in temptation. God's purpose is to cause us to become stronger in our faith. Satan's purpose is to destroy us (John 10:9) his purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy and he does so with a passion. His whole purpose is to do just that.
So how do we handle this matter of temptation? First, we must learn how to recognize it. Satan does not make it easy for us, because he knows when to attack and by what means to bring about temptation. He doesn't attack us where we are strong but in our areas of weakness. This means that in this matter of facing temptation, I must be honest with myself of my inner inability to say no to certain areas of my life.
It is a never-ending battle. For when we have been successful, there is a tendency toward pride and self-sufficiency which makes us vulnerable once again to other areas were Satan can creep in and attack us. They may be areas of which we are not conscious.
Whenever you are facing temptation, one incentive to be an overcomer is the incentive to realize that other people are dependent upon your success. When people see you successful in other areas where they are weak, you have an audience (and it may be one that you don't know about).
Note at this point, it is important to spend the time I Peter 5:8 which tells us to be sober and be vigilant because Satan our adversary is walking about constantly looking for ways to trip us up. (My translation). The verse continues with these words "who resist steadfast in the faith". Then the question comes to us: How do we do this? The answer to this question is found in the book of James:
In chapter 4:7,8, we are answered. We resist the devil by drawing nigh to God. That sounds like a simple answer, but sometimes we spend too long at the place of temptation and the desire for that forbidden thing overcomes us and we wind up turning to God for forgiveness rather than for strength. That seems to be what happens to all of us at times.
But I want to close with this final word from Matthew chapter 4 once again in chapter 4:3,4, and consider the strategy of Satan in seeking to cause Jesus to disobey God. Satan once again took advantage of his opportunity to tempt Jesus at his weakest point. I can see it now, Satan told Jesus, “why do you not have a right to satisfy your hunger”? Why is it necessary for you to go so long without food? You can prove to me and yourself that you are the son of God by turning these stones into bread. What would be wrong with doing that? But Jesus knew (and so did Satan) that his purpose was not to satisfy his hunger but to do the will of God. And in this case, the will of God was to refuse the tempting’s of the devil. That was more important than satisfying his desire for food. And as it often happens to us, we fail to realize that giving in to that forbidden desire often has dire consequences. It causes me to rationalize and make excuses for giving in to the temptation. Have you been there? The next thing it does, it causes me to lose my effectiveness with those who are watching for my success. When we attempt to live victoriously over these natural cravings that we have, others are watching me. Some are looking for me to fail and others are hoping that I succeed so that they can find a way out of their own dilemma.
Jesus' answer to Satan is significant. He said, "it is written, that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeded from the mouth of God". It is more important at this point to obey God than it is to satisfy my desire for some pleasure (although at times that desire is not wrong.) What I mean by that is, some things we may be able to have if we don't become excessive in our desire for them. That forbidden thing maybe just one little thing but when I involve myself in it, I find myself facing an addiction that I cannot handle. The best advice I can give in facing temptation is "don't go there". Now that's something else to think about!
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