Mark 1:12-13Amplified Bible
12 Immediately the [Holy] Spirit forced Him out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted [to do evil] by Satan; and He was with the wild animals, and the angels ministered continually to Him.
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
“I can resist everything but temptation!” says the Irish Poet Oscar Wilde.
“I generally avoid temptation unless I cannot resist it any longer.” Mae West
“I can resist anything but temptation!” says the bumper sticker.
“Temptation is the devil looking through our keyholes. Yielding is opening the door, inviting him in to stay and live with us for awhile.” Billy Sunday
As Christians, we know that temptation toward sinful, illegal or destructive things needs to be resisted, and yet we often find ourselves losing the battle.
That is not only frustrating, it can get downright depressing, it can even make us start to raise inner doubts, question whether God still loves, cares about us.
The promised land was just across the Jordan River, but the land on the near side of the river looked good for grazing.
So the tribes of Reuben and Gad petitioned Moses to let them settle in that area.
In doing so, they faced the temptation of settling in a place determined by their possessions rather than by the Lord’s promise.
When Moses challenged them, choose their “stuff or choose God” the tribes relented, agreed to go with the others across the Jordan to conquer the land.
Settling down and being content an being fulfilled merely with the things of this earth around us is so tempting.
The more we have, the easier it is to focus solely on this life.
Rather than keeping our eyes on the promises of God, we tend to see the things around us and be satisfied with them.
Christian faith is supposedly marked by our measures and our degrees of holy discontent with earthly treasures.
That choice, that decision and those affirmation are easy when things are easy.
That array of things, perhaps not no easy to live with when things are difficult.
But as Christians, we need to long for Christ and his kingdom even when things are good, because we know Jesus is the greatest example, the greatest mentor.
Mark 1:9-13Common English Bible
Jesus is baptized and tempted
9 About that time, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. 10 While he was coming up out of the water, Jesus saw heaven splitting open and the Spirit, like a dove, coming down on him. 11 And there was a voice from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.”
12 At once the Spirit forced Jesus out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among the wild animals, and the angels took care of him.
We all face temptation.
No one is immune from temptation.
The bad news about temptation is that it usually doesn’t happen when we’re ready for it.
It usually happens in those moments when we’re tired, or sad or disappointed about something.
And while we all face temptation, when we give into it, we often feel really bad.
We wish we were better about fighting it or saying no to the things tempting us.
Immediately after being baptized by John, immediately after hearing all of the wonderful all thumbs up accolades and affirmations from His Father in Heaven, we read that Jesus is immediately driven into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit.
What prior planning and preparation did he have?
Complete Faith and Trust in His Father God and the Holy Scriptures!
What preparation did he ask for as a precondition to entering the wilderness?
Complete Faith and Trust in His Father God and the Holy Scriptures!
What time did His Father God give him to “pray and study himself into shape?”
Complete Faith and Trust in His Father God, His perfect understanding and interpretation of the Holy Scriptures as taught to Him! Psalm 119:1-16
What resistance did Jesus offer up to His Father in Heaven before His entering?
None but implicit and innate trust in the truth found in God’s Holy Scriptures!
Hebrews 4:11-16Amplified Bible
11 Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest [of God, to know and experience it for ourselves], so that no one will fall by following the same example of disobedience [as those who died in the wilderness]. 12 For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged [a]sword, penetrating as far as the division of the [b] soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, and revealed to the eyes of Him with whom we have to give account.
14 Inasmuch then as we [believers] have a great High Priest who has [already ascended and] passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [of faith and cling tenaciously to our absolute trust in Him as Savior]. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin. 16 Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment].
Jesus is so much more than a role model
The fact that Jesus was tempted in all points like as we are teaches us at least three things.
One thing is Jesus’ perfect reliance on the Power of God through Scriptures.
One thing it teaches us is that just as Jesus overcame every temptation, so we need to follow his example, make every effort not to fall to temptation either.
But there is so much more here to acknowledge, and it makes all the difference.
If Jesus were merely a great role model that we should follow, there would be no hope for us.
Following Jesus would then just be another of the world’s many religions — humanly devised systems of coping with bad behavior and plagued consciences.
The other thing these temptation passages teach us is Jesus overcame every temptation in our place, as one of us, both representing us and substituting for us before God.
Notice where Hebrews 4 places the emphasis:
First, Jesus is presented as an incomparable High Priest (v. 14).
The job of a high priest is to mediate on behalf of the people toward God.
He offers the sacrifices and acts as the go-between to get everything straightened out between sinning people and God.
In religion, this concept keeps people mindful of the need to behave better and establishes a hierarchy of humans that can exercise control over the masses.
The Gospel is not, can never become, another religion
But the gospel is not another religion.
The gospel tells us that the real and true High Priest is God himself, the Second Person of the triune God — the one who became Jesus Christ. He died and rose from the dead in glory, and now is in heaven as a glorified man and the Son of God at once, making actual peace between sinning humans and God.
Jesus did not sin; he took all the sin of humanity onto his own shoulders.
But all the sin in the world was no match for the Son of God. In him, sin, all sin, found its demise. In Christ, God destroyed the work of the devil and defeated sin — our sin — once and for all. This is not religion; it is the gospel of our Savior.
That is why Hebrews 4 emphasizes the truth that Jesus sympathizes with us in our weaknesses, and the truth because of Jesus doing what he did regarding sin, we can come forth with a holy discontent for the world and a holy boldness to the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
We find the same emphasis in Hebrews 2:17-18.
He became like us humans in every respect for the express purpose of being a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God.
He can help those who are being tested because he was tested like they are.
How does he help them?
By his sacrifice of atonement (restoration to fellowship with God) and by being merciful (He forgives you) and faithful (He will do it every time).
Hebrews 3:12-19Amplified Bible
The Peril of Unbelief
12 Take care, brothers and sisters, that there not be in any one of you a wicked, unbelieving [a]heart [which refuses to trust and rely on the Lord, a heart] that turns away from the living God. 13 But continually encourage one another every day, as long as it is called “Today” [and there is an opportunity], so that none of you will be hardened [into settled rebellion] by the deceitfulness of sin [its cleverness, delusive glamour, and sophistication]. 14 For we [believers] have become partakers of Christ [sharing in all that the Messiah has for us], if only we hold firm our newborn confidence [which originally led us to Him] until the end, 15 while it is said,
“Today [while there is still opportunity] if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your heart, as when they provoked Me [in the rebellion in the desert at Meribah].”
16 For who were they who heard and yet provoked Him [with rebellious acts]? Was it not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose dead bodies were scattered in the desert? 18 And to whom did He swear [an oath] that they would not enter His rest, but to those who disobeyed [those who would not listen to His word]? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter [into His rest—the promised land] because of unbelief and an unwillingness to trust in God.
If we will only 100% fully and completely Trust him
Influenced by all this temptation, how do you get in on all this grace and mercy?
With such an astoundingly horrible track record of disobedience to rely upon,
I believe what makes resisting temptation difficult for many people is they don’t want to expend any of the necessary effort to discourage it completely.
Hebrews 3 says, “Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God” (v. 12, NRSV)
It goes on to say, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (v. 13).
How does sin deceive us?
One way is by telling us, in effect: “Ha! God won’t forgive you this time. You’ve crossed the line, pal, and the jig’s up. His mercy only goes so far, you know, and frankly, it’s reserved for those who clean up their act and stay in shape — not for the likes of you, you old filthy worn out completely useless ugly bag of sin.”
Look how verse 14 puts it: “For we have become partners of Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end” (NRSV).
In other words, trust him.
Trust him to do what he says he does for you — forgives you. Trust him to be what he says he is for you — faithful.
Trust him to know what he’s doing.
Trust him to love you the way he says he loves you.
Trust him to be the Creator, the Redeemer of his Creation that he claims to be.
How can you lose out on such a great salvation?
The same way you would lose out on a million dollars if you got a letter from the bank telling you someone had put it in your account, but you did not believe the bank and never went to take it out — by not believing, by not trusting in God.
By not trusting the giver of the gift. By not trusting God to love you and forgive you and transform you and make you his own child like he tells you he has already done (Ephesians 2:4-6; Colossians 1:13-14, 22; 2:13; 1 John 3:2).
The gospel really is good news!
Trouble is, for many of us, it seems too good to be true.
We want to have at least a short list of “do’s and don’ts” to separate the wheat from the chaff.
But God gave us no list.
God’s purpose in creation was to let us prove ourselves.
The plan was explained to us within the Psalms (139) before we were born.
We were weaved enough there to qualify for the opportunity to choose against temptation here to prepare for eternal life, the greatest of all the gifts of God.
He gave us himself.
In Christ, I thoroughly believe we have everything we need for salvation.
John 16:29-33Amplified Bible
29 His disciples said, “Ah, now You are speaking plainly to us and not in figures of speech! 30 Now we know that You know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; because of this we believe [without any doubt] that you came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now [at last] believe? 32 Take careful notice: an hour is coming, and has arrived, when you will all be scattered, each to his own home, leaving Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. 33 I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]
We are not worth caring about or saving because we convince him we are; we’re worth caring about and saving because he decided we are and he did it by Christ.
In the name of God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
Father God, my only believable and faithful Way Maker, My Chain-Breaker, My Promise Keeper, My Light of my life in the Darkness of sin, I know that You want me to resist temptation. I know You have not allowed any temptation to befall me which is beyond my strength to resist. In You, I have the freedom to choose not to sin, and You have given me Your Spirit to stand firm against temptation. When I am tempted to sin, help me instead to focus on Your goodness to me that is demonstrated by the cross. Fill me with Your Spirit and make me hate sin as much as You do. You have bought my life with the precious blood of Your Son and in His name, I pray. Amen.