Monday, April 25, 2011

Ever Been Tempted?

Have you ever been tempted? Have you ever given into temptation? It’s hard isn’t it? You’re walking along on your journey, doing the things you’re supposed to be doing - things are working well for you. And then it happens…Satan shows up with some enticing way to get your eyes off of God and to get you off track.
I don’t know about you, but it makes me mad when he does that! In fact, it really makes me mad when I fall for it and give into that temptation. But is temptation a sin? No, it is only a sin when I give into the temptation. While I can do things to protect myself from being tempted, one thing is for sure, I will be tempted. Satan doesn’t like it when I am growing and looking more like Jesus. Satan doesn’t like it when you’re free from an addiction or stronghold and establishing healthy relationships. Satan doesn’t like it when we’re making good choices. As a result, He will continue to tempt us.

How do I know we will be tempted? Because if Jesus was tempted, you can rest assured we will be too.

Let’s look at the temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4 and see if we can learn any lessons about temptation to help us. Hey you! That means stop reading, go get your Bible, and read Matthew 4:1-11, ok? Then come back and compare notes with me, ok?

Oh, good. You made it back here! The first thing we see in verse 1 is that the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted. WHAT? Read that again…the spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted. We can infer that yes, it was intentional.

So the first thing we learn is that we are to expect temptation. It is going to happen. We will be intentionally tempted, and we must learn to expect it.

The next thing we see is that we should, shall we say, expect it when we least expect it. Notice in verses 2 and 3, that Satan didn’t come on day one in the wilderness, nor did he did show up on day 20. No he came on day 40, after Jesus had fasted and prayed for 40 days. He was tired and hungry, but he was prayed up too.

Sometimes Satan comes when we are down. Sometimes he comes in the middle of a struggle, and often he shows up right after a huge victory. He knows your weak spots better than you do. He waits for an opportune time, and then he goes after you with everything he has.

So how do we guard against that? By being on guard…Mark 14:38 says, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” So we need to watch, we need to be careful. It is not wise to place yourself in a position to be tempted, especially if you know you’re not going to be able to withstand the temptation. So we need to watch, be careful, and we need to be on guard. When you least expect it, expect it. It will happen.

The third thing Matthew shows us is to expect Satan to cause you to question God. Look at verses 3 & 6. Satan began with “If you are the Son of God…” You might remember he used a similar line on Eve in the Garden of Eden, “Did God really say you can’t eat from that tree?” “He is stingy, He is holding out on you girl!”

If he can make you question God’s motives and God’s goodness or cause you to doubt who you are in Christ then he has a huge advantage. If he can cause you to doubt your salvation, doubt your growth or doubt that your change is real, then he has a real advantage over you. Jesus knew who He was. He knew He was the Son of God. Satan tried to get him to doubt that. When that didn’t work He tried another trick.

Expect Satan to accuse God of holding out on you. Read verses 8-9 again. Paraphrase? “Jesus, if you follow me, I have an easier way. You don’t have to die on a cross. Here look around, I will give you a kingdom, I will give you all of this, all you have to do is bow to me. “

For Eve it was, “Did God really say you can’t eat from that tree? He is holding out on you Eve. He knows that you will be like Him if you eat that. He doesn’t want that for you.”

Sound familiar? It does to me, for me it sounds something like this: “Cindy, you don’t have to go through all of that to be satisfied, just bow to me. That stuff is too hard; I won’t make you endure all of that. Don’t be vulnerable with others, don’t share the truth. Just keep it quiet, hidden in the dark. People think you are fine just the way you are. God is holding out on you, you don’t really have to go through all of that for healing.”

Sound familiar to anyone else? Satan wants to offer you an easier way, but it will never bring about the growth and healing you so need and desire. He only wants to keep you down.

How about you? Do you know that God is not holding out on you? Are you submitting to God? It is not enough to just resist the Devil, we have to submit to God. God wants what is best for us, Satan wants what is best for him. Submit to God, worship and serve God only.

So, how do we withstand against temptation and the schemes of the Devil? We can expect temptation. We can expect it when we least expect it. We can expect Satan to cause us to question God. We can expect Satan to accuse God of holding out on us.

So here is what i have learned about temptation from Matthew.
  1. Expect temptation
  2. Expect when you least expect it
  3. Expect Satan to cause you to question God and your relationship with Him
  4. Expect Satan to accuse God of holding out on you.

Now that we are expecting it, we can follow Jesus’ example. Jesus used the Word to beat Satan. We must know God’s word in order to stand. I encourage you to be in His word each day, learning and growing to be more Christ-like. Not simply so you can withstand Satan’s lies and temptations, but so you can build your relationship with God. Jesus came so that we could have abundant life, and this is the way to start living it!

Now I am not saying, read your Bible more and pray harder and you will overcome every temptation that comes your way. Oh no, but that is a part. But you will have a good start. However, you need good friends, a community of people around you that are actively involved in your life. We all need people that will hold us accountable and have the courage to speak truth to us. You also need to be actively involved in a local church, worshipping with others and serving others too.

We can expect temptation. But with a strong relationship with God, and others, we will be prepared to fight Satan against the temptations that are sure to come your way.