One of my weaknesses is my desire for a cheeseburger. I love cheeseburgers…. Burger King Whoppers with cheese to be exact. But actually, how can anyone find fault with me? Just take a look at this Burger King Whopper commercial…. (be forewarned, I don’t know how anyone can resist this!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pltp_xNrego
After having a mild heart attack about 5 years ago, it is for my good that I don’t make a habit of eating these babies. It seems as if ever since I was told to “lay off the Whoppers” that I have only wanted them more. We have all experienced something like this… temptation is universal, everyone has experienced it at one time or another.
Sadly, this universal experience is one of the greatest hindrances we face to living a faithful, obedient Christian life. Why does temptation make such an impact in a Christian’s life? How can we overcome such a strong influence? Let’s see what the Bible has to say about temptation…
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (1Jn 2:15-17)
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. (Gen 3:6)
Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him. (Mat 4:1-11)
1 John 2:15-17
Here, we find the three basic areas of attack that temptation takes… the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. These are the three types of sinful desires we all have within us. These are the areas that temptation appeals to and to which we submit, producing sin in our lives. (James 1:13-15)
Here, we read of the very first temptation of mankind. Note the three areas attacked by Satan during his temptation of man:
“the tree was good for food” (lust of the flesh);
“it was pleasant to the eyes” (lust of the eyes);
“a tree to be desired to make one wise” (the pride of life).
This is a consistent pattern throughout the Scriptures. Every temptation that is enacted upon man is aimed at one (or more) of these three types of sinful desires we all possess.
In this account, we have the temptation of Christ brought into view. Notice that, again, temptation’s attack is in a three-fold direction:
“command that these stones be made bread” – Christ’s hunger after His fasting (this would have appealed to His desires of the flesh)
“If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down:… lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.” – By doing this, Christ would be proving to everyone His divine origin (this would have appealed to His desire to exalt Himself or His pride of life)
“The devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, …if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” – This was appealing to the sight of all the kingdoms of the world. (By doing this the temptation involved the desires of His eyes)
In each case, a similar area of Christ’s life was being attacked (just like in the other two examples we looked at.) However, in the case of Christ, we have a perfectly sinless response to these temptations. Why? Christ’s did not have a sinful nature that fallen mankind possesses. This is one reason why Christ was perfectly able to resist these temptations.
THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION
For the Christian….
For our benefit, Christ clearly displayed the method in which to overcome any temptation that we may face. Please notice, in each of the three attacks by Satan, the Lord used the Word of God to gain the victory over Satan. “It is written”, “it is written”, “it is written”; was Christ’s constant refrain.
In each case Satan lied (John 8:44), in each case Christ refuted the lie by going to the source of all truth, God’s Word.
Satan can use our friends, our family, even our experiences to lie to us. The only sure source of truth we can rely on is the Word of God. If anything in our life leads us contrary to Scripture, we must put it aside, and follow the Scripture exclusively.
The example of Christ, once again, speaks to us concerning the importance of Bible study and memorization for the Christian. It is truly the only offensive weapon we have to deflect Satan’s attacks against us. (Eph 6:14-17)
Another lesson from Christ’s example is the need to take special care when we see a weakness in any of these three areas in our life. We should be constantly striving for control of our pride, control of our eyes and control of our fleshly desires. When these begin to dominate us, we are headed for defeat.
For those who have never submitted to the Lord…
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. (Jas 1:13-15)
Without the forgiveness of Christ, spiritual, eternal death is the end result of temptations workings in mankind. The only remedy for this is to look to Christ, the life-giver, who gave Himself on the cross so that we might share eternal life with Him. (2 Tim 1:8-10)
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