Perhaps the most frustrating part of being a Christian is our ongoing struggle with temptation. Proverbs 26:11 says, “As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.” The Holy Spirit produces in us a holy disgust toward our sin. But that doesn’t stop us from returning to it!
Temptation is frustrating for a few reasons. First, it seems like Jesus wasn’t tempted. After all, He was the sinless Son of God! How could He be tempted? Second, it seems like we shouldn’t be tempted. If Jesus has truly saved us, why do our sinful desires still have so much power over us?
We must understand that temptation is a normal part of being human. How we approach it is a matter of discipleship. Spiritual maturity requires us to submit our desires to Jesus’ lordship. As our devotion to Him grows, our desire for sin will weaken.
Jesus Was Tempted
It may seem like Jesus couldn’t be tempted, but He was! Three of the four Gospels tell us He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan (Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-13). Hebrews 4:15 says He “was in all points tempted as we are.” This means He was tempted in all the ways we are tempted!
Jesus had a human body with cravings and desires. At times, He was tempted to fulfill those desires in sinful ways. He wasn’t just the Son of God; He was also the Son of Man. That means He experienced all that it is to be human, including temptation.
Jesus Defeated Temptation
What sets Jesus apart isn’t that He was never tempted. Rather, it’s that He never succumbed to temptation. The Gospels show how He defeated it by fasting and quoting Scripture. Hebrews 4:15 goes on to say that although He was tempted in every way, He was “without sin.”
We Are Tempted
It’s no secret that we are tempted as well. We are born in bondage to sin. This is why we yield to temptation so quickly – it only has to appeal to our natural desires. “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed” (James 1:14).
And being saved doesn’t automatically put an end to temptation. Although God gives us all we need to never sin again (2 Peter 1:3-4), we seem to be held in its power. Many of us struggle against the same besetting sins for years after our conversion!
We Can Defeat Temptation
Our response to temptation reveals our level of spiritual maturity. Do we give up and give in to our sinful cravings? Or do we discipline ourselves for the sake of righteousness? The Holy Spirit will grant us Jesus’ victory over temptation if we rely on Him for strength and godliness.
Paul promises that God “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” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Do you trust God to provide an escape route from temptation? Are you relying on Him through prayer, fasting, and Scripture memorization?
Although we are born in bondage to sin, we are born anew in freedom from sin. God has put His Spirit in us that we might walk in that freedom. Don’t get frustrated when He doesn’t automatically remove your sinful desires. Understand that He uses your struggle with temptation to refine your character as you learn to depend on Him.
How does Jesus’ struggle with temptation encourage you? Leave your thoughts with a comment below!
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