Sunday, February 21, 2010

Irresistible temptation?

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Luke 4:1-13

TO CHEW ON: “’Therefore if you will worship me all will be yours’” – the Devil. Luke 4:7

Who of us can’t empathize with Jesus in His temptation? At the moment of His greatest vulnerability Satan came to Him, whispering - You need this. You deserve this. Here’s a way to prove how really great You are. 

"Christ in the Desert" by Ivan Kramskoy - 1872

Satan uses the same tactics with us. The Apostle John, in 1 John 2:16 puts easy-to-recognize labels on Satan's three most-used modes of temptation:

1. “The lust of the flesh.” Your physical self craves this. You’ve got to have it. Satan tried it on Eve in Eden (“the tree was good for food” – Genesis 3:15), and here on Jesus (“Command this stone to become bread”).

2. “The lust of the eyes.” You see, crave, and covet. Satan drew Eve’s attention to the forbidden fruit which was “pleasant to the eyes.” To Jesus the devil pointed out “all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.”

3. “The pride of life.” Here’s a way to realize or prove your human potential. To Eve it was “a tree desirable to make one wise.” Satan challenged Jesus: “throw yourself down from here.” The arrival of angels to rescue Him would prove His identity as the fulfillment of a prophecy about Messiah.

When dealing with temptation, first you need to recognize it. Look for the satanic fingerprints of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life on temptations that come your way.

After recognizing temptation, you need to deal with it. To each temptation Jesus replied with truth - the Scripture. He knew that Satan’s stated or implied promises were only as good as their author – full of deceit and a pack of lies. There are other ways to respond. Sometimes you need to flee the situation (push away from the table, turn off the TV or computer). At other times you need to face the situation (you’ve just got to your car and realized there is a bag of flour, unnoticed and unpaid-for, on the bottom of your grocery cart).

I love 1 Corinthians 10:13 – the classic dealing-with-temptation verse: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

Next time you recognize temptation, breathe an SOS prayer and then take the "way of escape" that God shows you.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for Your example of how to deal with temptation. Help me to recognize temptation and discover Your way of escape. Amen.

MORE: Oswald Chambers on temptation:

The word "temptation" has come down in the world; we are apt to use it wrongly. Temptation is not sin, it is the thing we are bound to meet if we are men....

A man's disposition on the inside, i.e., what he possesses in his personality, determines what he is tempted by on the outside. The temptation fits the nature of the one tempted, and reveals the possibilities of the nature. Every man has the setting of his own temptation, and the temptation will come along the line of the ruling disposition.  (From My Utmost For His HighestRead entire)

The old gospel hymn “Yield Not to Temptation” by Horatio R. Palmer speaks a lot of truth.

Here Bishop David Ellis sings it, backed by a gospel choir.

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