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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Have We Trials and Temptations?

I'm currently in Matthew. I just finished the fourth chapter. I was interested to read the first verse of that chapter.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (Matt 4:1)
Did you catch that? Jesus was led by the Spirit. Good. He was led into the wilderness. Okay, fine. He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Oh, wait! The purpose of the Spirit in leading Him into the wilderness was temptation. Is that right?

Well, it's in there, so it must be. Apparently, temptation is not bad. Giving in to it is. So how could it be good for the Spirit to lead Him into the wilderness to be tempted?

In Hebrews we read, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin." (Heb 4:15) Was He actually tempted in every respect as we are? I think so. John describes "all that is in the world" that is "not from the Father, but is from the world" -- "the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life." (1 John 2:16) So we have a list. In His temptations Jesus encountered "the desires of the flesh" when the tempter told Him "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." (Matt 4:3-4) Now, what's so wrong about that? Why not? Jesus wasn't offering a judgment against eating. He was rebuking "the desires of the flesh" because they were offered by the tempter and not God. He encountered the "pride of life" when the devil took Him to the top of the temple and suggested He demonstrate His standing as the Son of God by jumping and having the angels protect Him (Matt 4:5-7). Was He not the Son of God? Did He not wish to demonstrate that He was? Of course He was the Son of God and He did miracles to demonstrate it, but this was a temptation to pride rather than submitting to the Father. He was tempted with the "desires of the eyes" when Satan showed Him the kingdoms of the world "and their glory" and offered them to Him if He would bow to him (Matt 4:8-10). In truth, Christ was to rule the kingdoms of the world, so it wasn't that rulership that was questionable; it was the method.

Christ pushed back in all cases with properly applied Scripture. In the end, "the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to Him." (Matt 4:11) In the end He was "without sin". But He did indeed endure all the temptations we do. As such, we have a high priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses. And that is a good thing. So when the Spirit led Him into the wilderness to be tempted, I would say that it was a good thing. And when we are led into trials and temptations, do we conclude the same thing?

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