How to Resist Temptation

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Then the devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread." But Jesus told him, "No! The Scriptures say, 'People do not live by bread alone.' "

Luke 4:

One who is reading Luke for the first time might be shocked by the beginning of chapter 4. Verse 1 picks up after the baptism of Jesus, where the Holy Spirit descended on him (3:22). Yet the Spirit did something unexpected and unsettling, leading Jesus into the wilderness in order to be tempted by the Devil. This temptation lasted for forty days, though Luke provides only a brief summary of what happened. Basically, the Devil tempted Jesus to use his unique position and power for his own benefit and glory. Yet Jesus steadfastly refused to give in to the Devil's enticements.

Why? What enabled Jesus to resist temptation? We might be inclined to think that Jesus' unique divine-human nature protected him from really being tempted. But the Bible is clear that Jesus truly faced temptation. What Luke reveals through narrative is explained in Hebrews, where Jesus "understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings [or temptations] we do," though without sinning (Hebrews 4:15). While in the wilderness, Jesus did not have the support of human community, that which frequently helps people reject temptation. But he did have the support of Scripture. In fact, Jesus fended off all of the temptations depicted in Luke 4 by quoting portions of the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy.

When you and I are tempted, we would do well to follow Jesus' example of holding fast to God's written Word. Scripture shows us both how to live and what to avoid if we want to experience the abundant life God intends for us. As we read in the Psalms: "I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you" (119:11). The more God's truth permeates our being, the more we will be empowered to say "No" to sin and "Yes" to God. The more Scripture fills our minds and hearts, the more we will be able to imitate Jesus' choice to walk the path of servanthood rather than seeking the way of personal comfort and glory.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: When you are tempted to sin, what helps you to resist? What helps you avoid temptation in the first place? Can you think of a time when Scripture empowered you to say "No" to sin? Is God speaking to you even now about temptations you need to reject?

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, first of all, I thank you for entering fully into our humanity, even to the point of being truly tempted. You know the lure of sin, though you never succumbed to it. Yet the fact of your temptation encourages me when I am tempted. You know how it feels.

I also thank you, Lord, for modeling a right response to temptation. Not only did you resist the lure of sin, but also you did so by drawing upon the truth and power of Scripture. This is something I need to do in my life. When I am tempted, may I stand in the strength of the Word. I would also ask that your truth so fill and transform my heart that my desire to sin might decrease even as my desire to please you grows day by day. Amen.