Temptation comes in so many different forms. By virtue of a box of cookies, candy or a luscious frosted cake sitting on the counter, one can be tempted to indulge. My recent experience has been with the cake. My friend, Vickie, made me a huge cake for my birthday. We had a decent amount of company to help us make our way through it, but there was still a large portion left by the end of the evening. Each day that it sat on the counter (the box was too big to put elsewhere), the cake and silky frosting was calling out to me. I made sure that I only took slim slices, and I did stick to after dinner dessert only, but a couple times I took a little swipe of the icing and the moist, fudgy cake leavings on the cake board. When a new group of visitors didn’t finish it off, I put the rest in a plastic container and placed it in the fridge. With one last swipe on the board, I disposed of the original container. We left on a planned trip, and I was hoping our family that was left in the house would eat the remaining cake while we were gone.
In regard to temptation with food, depending on what else has been eaten or how much is taken, yielding to a desire can be benign, or there could be a problem – a sin committed. The temptation itself is not a transgression. In this case, it is giving in to an over-indulgence that can often lead to trouble. Of course there are other actions to which we may be tempted that will walk us right over the line, but the Bible is clear that not one of us is a stranger to temptation’s lure. In fact, the Bible teaches that Jesus Himself was tempted. It was very real and came through direct contact with Satan, but Jesus was the victor over him and the situation. As in all that was recorded about the Lord, He left us an example, which we would be wise to imitate.
The Bible teaches that during His forty days in the desert, Jesus was tempted by Satan three times. While not exclusive, the temptations He faced deal with three major areas in which we all can be tempted. Satan enticed Jesus in the area of provision when he said, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread” (Matthew 4:3 ESV). Hungry from forty days and nights of fasting, Jesus used Scripture to stay the course and not yield to the enemy’s schemes. Jesus answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4 ESV). Satan tried to trap Jesus regarding position when he himself quoted Scripture to tempt Jesus to jump from the highest point of the temple to prove that “If you are the Son of God” the angels would come to His rescue. Jesus quoted a verse from Deuteronomy 6:16, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test’” (Matthew 4:7 ESV). Then, Satan attempted to lure Jesus into worshiping him by holding a promise of power out to Him: “Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan!’ For it is written: ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.’ Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to Him” (Matthew 4:8-10 ESV).
Very often, we yield to temptation as we try to procure provisions, position or power. Jesus showed us that Scripture is an effective tool to fight against those temptations that can so easily trap us. But, Jesus recognized that we would give in to our temptations far more often than we would be victors over them. We continue to seek to fulfill our fleshly needs with things that not only will not satisfy, but those choices are sin that keep us separated from God. And so, Jesus chose to take all of the resultant sin upon Himself so that we would be able to live with Him and the Father in eternity. It is our cause for celebration throughout the Easter season! When our temptations get the better of us, we who trust in Jesus as Savior are covered by His precious blood. While we might suffer consequences from our choices, our confession of faith and of our sins will allow us to continue to be renewed, and we will enjoy a heavenly home when our time on earth is through.
To fight temptation, a believer should be aware of his own weakness, continue to stay in communion with God, and use Scripture to rebuff the enemy so that he may stay the course. Praise the Lord that when we give in to temptation, Jesus has already paid the price for the “sin that so easily besets us.” Make that truth the center of your celebration this Easter.
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