Thursday, June 6, 2019

The Example of Jesus Christ in How to Resist Temptation

As part of overcoming sin, we must learn and develop the habit of successfully resisting temptation.

There is an example in the life of Christ that shows how He resisted temptation to sin.

The example is how He resisted the temptations Satan threw at Him when He was tempted by Satan in the wilderness prior to His ministry. Let's look at that.

"Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry" (Matthew 4:1-2).

Notice that Jesus prepared for His struggle against Satan by fasting.

Notice also an account of an occasion when the disciples were unable to cast out a demon. You can read the whole account in Matthew 17:14-21. But notice verses 19-21: "Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, 'Why could we not cast it out?' So Jesus said to them, 'Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, "Move from here to there," and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting' ".

Prayer and fasting are tools for overcoming Satan and his demons and the temptations to sin that Satan throws at us.

Let's look at the temptations with which Satan tempted Christ and see how He resisted.

"Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, 'If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.' But He answered and said, 'It is written, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" ' " (Matthew 4:3-4).

Notice that we are to live by every word of God. That means we must read and study our Bibles to know what the word of God says.

Here is the second temptation. "Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, 'If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: "He shall give His angels charge over you," and, "In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone." ' Jesus said to him, 'It is written again, "You shall not tempt the Lord your God" ' " (Matthew 4:5-7).

Now, the third temptation. "Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, 'All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.' Then Jesus said to him, 'Away with you, Satan! For it is written, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve." ' " (Matthew 4:8-10).

Is there something in common to these three instances in how Jesus resisted temptation?

In every case, Jesus countered Satan's temptations by quoting scripture.

This can be an example for us. When a temptation comes, it is helpful to think of God's word and the scriptures that teach us to avoid the sin and to rehearse those scriptures in our mind.

God's Holy Spirit can help us remember the scriptures we need.

In a few days will be God's annual festival and holy day of Pentecost. Pentecost represents many things. It represents the Church as the firstfruits of God's salvation. It represents the beginning of the New Testament Church of God. It represents the preaching of the gospel, for it was on that day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was first given to the Church that Peter and the apostles preached the gospel powerfully and three thousand responded and were added to the Church (Acts 2:14-42). And it represents the giving of the Holy Spirit, a Spirit of love, power, and a sound mind (Acts 2:1-12, 2 Timothy 1:7).

Christ said, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (John 14:26).

The Holy Spirit helps us to remember the things Christ taught, and not only the words of Jesus when He was human on earth, but all the word of God.

But for the Holy Spirit to help us remember the Bible passages we need in time of temptation, we need to read the Bible so we can remember those passages.

This is one of the ways the Holy Spirit can help us resist temptation.

When we are tempted to sin, we should try to remember and think about the Bible passages specific to the point of God's law Satan is tempting us to violate. Then the Holy Spirit can help us remember those passages, and in remembering, we have a powerful tool for resisting temptation.

And when we remember those scriptures, we should meditate on who it is who is commanding us not to sin, the Almighty God who has all wisdom and power, who can bless us or curse us (Deuteronomy 7:12-23, 11:13-32, 28:1-68, 30:15-19), whom we are to fear, as Christ said - "But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!" (Luke 12:5).

It is by fear of God that we turn from sin. "In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil" (Proverbs 16:6).