DEVOTION:YOU SHOULD EXPECT TEMPTATION!

There are many stories in the Bible that continue to puzzle my mind. One of these stories is found in our text for today. This is about Satan tempting Our Lord Jesus Christ. This story and the story of Job raise similar questions although the temptation of Jesus raises even more puzzling questions. Just at the onset of the story, your mind begins to wonder about what is happening.

 

Read this introduction

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1

 

Here is the portion that puzzles me: “Jesus was led by the Spirit…” What puzzles me in this story is not that Jesus was tempted, even though that raises other questions, but that it is the Holy Spirit who led Jesus to be tempted by the devil. It must be understood that the Holy Spirit is not the source of temptation; the Holy Spirit did not tempt Jesus. The role of the Holy Spirit was to expose Christ to the temptation of the devil.

 

In the story of Job, it is God who allowed Satan to severely tempt Job. Why? I wonder. Job’s severe trials were enough to cause him to curse God, but of course like Jesus, Job did not give in to this temptation.

 

Refresh your mind on how all these came about.

One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. Job 1:6

 

Strange isn’t it? The angles came before God, and so did Satan. Here was God’s response to Satan’s presence:

The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Job 1:7

 

And this was Satan’s answer:

Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” Job 1:7b

Then the Lord asked Satan this interesting question:

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” Job 1:8

And Satan responded with this explanation:

Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. Job 1:9-10

 

But he did not stop there:

But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face. Job 1:11

 

One wonders what God would say to that kind of request or challenge. But God had a surprising answer for Satan.

The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Job 1:12a

 

Then comes this expected comment:

Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. Job 1:12b

 

In both of these stories, Satan is given an opportunity to tempt. In Job’s case, God seems to have been bragging about Job when He said, “There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” When Satan challenged the righteousness of Job, God gave him permission to test Job in order to find out if he was truly a righteous Man.

 

But in the temptation of Jesus, the Holy Spirit is the one who led Christ to be tempted by the devil. I find this to be extremely puzzling. But here is a possible purpose: it was meant to assure us that Christ was not a stranger to our temptations. He too was tempted just as we often get tempted.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Hebrews 4:15

 

Let me make a distinction between Job and Jesus Christ. Satan tempted Jesus but he tested Job with trials intended to produce enticement to sin. While trials do not always come with temptation (i.e. enticement to sin), these ones came with temptation to sin. Take note also that trials does not always come from the devil. There are many sources of trials.

 

What do these stories tell us about temptation? First, there are times when Satan will request permission from God to test believers. Secondly, it seems God may lead us into temptation to test our faith or to prove to Satan our faithfulness to Him. This is the conclusion we can make from the temptation of Jesus. I do not really see any other way to explain this. Though God does not tempt anyone, He will at times remove His divine protection so that we can be tempted by the devil.  That is, God sometimes seems to remove His divine protection (temporarily) so that we can be tempted by the devil.

This point might explain why God allowed Satan to tempt Adam and Eve. I say this because God always has the power to keep the enemy away from us.

 

There is an argument that Paul makes in giving the comparison between Christ and Adam. Both experienced temptation but the first Adam failed, while the second Adam, that is Jesus Christ, overcame the temptation. Could this be the reason why God led His Son through the Holy Spirit to be tempted in order to show the difference between the first Adam and the second Adam? Either way, one thing is clear from these two stories – each one of us will face temptation. Whether it will be because Satan has been given permission or the Holy Spirit has led us to it, the point is this; all of us will face temptation. Of course apart from these two possible sources of temptation, there are other sources of temptation that we will leave for another lesson.

 

APPLICATION:

1.     Since it is very clear you and I will face temptation, then the question is not if I face Temptation, but when I face temptation. Because of this, you should expect to face temptation. The following verse shows that all believers will face temptations but God limits the intensity based on an individual’s faith.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. I Corinthians 10:13

2.     The above stories clearly illustrate that temptation comes from difference sources and forms. The key for overcoming is our readiness. Knowing that it can appear any moment should help our readiness. Are you prepared?

3.     How have you prepared yourself?

4.     Has today’s lesson rocked your understanding of temptation? Or has it brought about a new revelation.

5.     I must admit, in preparing this lesson, I learned things I never knew or connected in scripture. I had not seen how I Corinthians 10:13 can explain the temptation of Jesus and Job. It is amazing to see the role of God in all these.

 

No temptation has overtaken you

Except what is common to mankind.

 And God is faithful;

He will not let you be tempted

Beyond what you can bear.

 But when you are tempted,

He will also provide a way out

So that you can endure it.

I Corinthians 10:13

 

Because of this reality

YOU SHOULD EXPECT TEMPTATION!

By Pastor Shadrack Ruto

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