Sunday, January 20, 2008

Matthew 4:1 The Temptation of Jesus Part II

As we begin to examine the temptation of Jesus, there are some important questions we must ask ourselves in order to fully understand the drama as it unfolds in scripture. Rather than proceeding to the next verse this week, I thought it would be a good idea to point some these issues out so that we can keep them in mind as we continue to study this section of Matthew’s gospel account.

First of all, we should realize that Jesus was tempted in Matthew chapter 4 for the same reason that God allows us to go through trials. In 1 Peter 1:6-7 reads” 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” In these verses, Peter identifies a kind of temptation that you and I endure. He says that these believers to whom he wrote were experiencing “trails” (Greek-peirasmos). This word is closely related to the word for tempted in Matthew 4:1 (Greek-peirazo). This is not a temptation to sin, but is rather an opportunity for our faith to be proven genuine. Therefore, God was allowing Jesus to demonstrate through His actions that He was in fact the Son of God with whom the Father was “well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Even so, God allows us to go through temptations (trials) on occasion for His glory so that our faith is shown to be true.

In addition, we should note that we have at our disposal the same means to endure the trials we face as our Lord did. We observe in verse 2 of Matthew 4 that our Lord fasted for 40 days and forty nights. While scripture does not record it, we can be sure that He spent that time in prayer, communing with the Father in preparation for the trial He would face. I’m not certain that we must fast to draw close to God, but certainly there are Christians that practice that spiritual discipline. I believe, however, the most important fact for us to notice is that He spent time in prayer to the Father. If Jesus, Who was the Lord of all creation and the eternal Second Person of the Godhead, spent time praying when facing a trial, we should say to ourselves “If it was good enough for my Lord, it’s good enough for me”. Further more, we notice throughout the trial that He made use of God’s word. In the series I wrote on Psalm 1, I made the point that the subject of the Psalm meditates on the word of God day and night. Now, if you and I meditated on the word of God and quoted scripture in the midst of trials rather than complaining under our breath, we would have greater success in facing these trials. Again, let us look to our Lord as our example.

Finally, we should note the difference in the trial that our Lord endured as compared to the temptations that we face. You and I are prone to sin because we have a sin nature that lives within us. Even once we are born again in the spirit, we are still living in corrupted flesh that doesn’t know how to do anything better than to sin. While God does try or test us, the same Greek word can be used to describe a person being tempted to sin. Satan wanted to tempt Christ to sin. However, Christ had no sin nature. Since sin is passed down from father to children (Romans 5) and Christ had no human biological father (Matthew 1) Christ did not have a sin nature for the devil to exploit. As James 1:13-14 reads “13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” This does not diminish the victory that Christ had over the devil. We simply need to remember that our sinful temptations are different from the temptation that Christ faced in the wilderness. However, we have victory over sin through His precious blood and His Holy Spirit will conform to His image. Therefore, while we will not have total victory over sin in this life, we can become more like Christ and have greater victory over sin. We also, through the same power that was available to Jesus, can stand firm and demonstrate the genuineness of our faith in our trials just as our Lord did in His trial.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for being true to God's Word and showing us verse by verse what the Bible says. So often today, we're exposed to teaching that makes our "New Year" better; how to be a better friend, etc. It's refreshing to hear the Word without so much editorializing.