“The Temptation”

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.      Hebrews 4:15 

     There is no more mysterious scene in the whole story of the Gospels than the temptation in the wilderness. That dark enigma, the existence and the awful power of a personal Lord of Evil, recognized everywhere as a fact in the New Testament, appears here in all its darkness. And, darkness is indeed a living midnight, when we see it face to face with the sinless Son of God and Man. Who shall fathom the depth of the secret reasons which constrained the Lord, under the immediate power and guidance of the Holy Spirit poured on Him without measure, to submit 
Himself to the personal, positive, and profoundly subtle assaults of the Evil Spirit, alone and in the waste?  

     All that we can know is that the dreadful encounter was a vital factor in His incarnate experience, and that the endurance of it, and then the victorious sequel, like all that He did and suffered, were of infinite import for our blessing. This at least we know, that the Lord Jesus Christ is now, in the power of that strife and of  that victory, able to enter into the very depth of every moral struggle of His disciples, and “able to succour also them that are tempted,” with the sympathetic power of an almighty but all-sensitive Fellow-Sufferer.     H.C. G. Moule 

     And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, showed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. The tempter had tried the Son of Man through the power of depression; he now tries Him by the power of exaltation. He had sought to vanquish Him by the scourge of poverty; he now seeks to overcome  Him by the vision of plenty. He had brought Him down into the valley and had tempted Him by the dangers of humiliation; he now carries Him up to the mountain and tempts Him by the dangers of elevation.  

     O Thou Divine Spirit, that hast proved Thy strength alike over the valley and over the mountain, let me find my strength in Thee. I need Thee, that I may be  strong everywhere. I long to be independent of all circumstances alike of the cloud and of the sunshine. I want a power to keep me from being depressed in the vale  and to prevent me from being giddy on the height; to save me from sinking in despondency and to rescue me from soaring in pride. I want both a pillar of fire  and a pillar of cloud; a refuge from the night of adversity and a shield from the day of prosperity. I can find them in Thee. Thou hast proved Thy power both over the night and over the day; Thou hast vanquished the tempter in the valley and Thou hast conquered the tempter on the hill. Come into my heart, and Thy power shall  be my power. The earth shall be mine and the fullness thereof. I shall be victorious over all circumstances, at home in all scenes, restful in all fortunes. I shall have  power to tread upon scorpions, and they shall do me no hurt; the world shall be mine when Thy Spirit is in me.                                                   Matheson 

     The temptation was real, not a mere semblance. Our Lord, under stress of genuine temptation, had to win the victory, in man and for man, by evincing  self-denial, self-control, disregard for selfish advantage; absolute renunciation of power, honour, and  self-gratification; and complete self-surrender to His Heavenly Father’s will. If the struggle had not been an actual struggle, there would have been no significance in the victory. The Gospels represent Jesus as subject to  temptations from without, not only at this crisis, but during all His life. He said to Peter, “Get thee behind Me, Satan: thou art a stumbling-block unto Me.”; And He  said to His Apostles, “Ye are they which have continued with Me in My temptations.” The only difference between the temptations of Christ and our own  is that His came from without, but ours come also from within. In Him “the tempting opportunity” could not appeal to “the susceptible disposition.” With us sin acquires its deadliest force, because we have yielded to it. We can only conquer it when, by the triumph of God’s grace within us, we are able to say with the dying  hero of Azincour, “Get thee hence, Satan; thou hast no part in me; my part is in the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Farrar 

     Temptation, something that has afflicted all of us. There is none that escapes, it is what we do with it, how we handle it, who we blame it on that causes all the problems. The psychologists, the psychological preaching, the radio and tv teaching that is so much a part of our world is telling us that it is basically not our fault, it’s our ancestors, or surroundings, or our jobs, or our economic conditions that is to  fault. Bunk! It is US, we are the problem.  
     I have come up with a somewhat different definition of what sin is than you may have heard before, it’s mine but I think it good. Sin is not what we do,  (though that certainly is a result of it) sin is not so much what we do as what we are, in this flesh. Everything we do, apart from Christ is sin! When we blame our surroundings, or those around us we do exactly what Eve and then Adam did. We try to shift blame from ourselves to other things.  
     James makes an interesting observation, let me quote for you: “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil,  neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin:  and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” James 1:13-15 emphasis mine.  
     Let’s get a couple things straight, first our Heavenly Father does not tempt with sin, don’t blame Him. Second, the enemy of our souls is not omnipotent! The devil is only a created being and has none of God’s attributes, therefore he is not able to bring all the damnable temptations to our minds we like to give him credit for. We  are quite capable of dreaming up, just as James says above, all the heinous thoughts and actions by our selves without outside intervention.  
     Now before I carry on to long I would like to close this section by adding a thought about what happens when we dwell on a temptation and what to do about  it. First when you think on something which is tempting to sin you will invariably yield. David did that with Bathsheba, to sight one example and it brought forth death, sorrow and misery.  
     I would like to add here my heart aches for David and Bathsheba I do not point an accusing finger. David however was a man after God’s own heart because his  sin broke his heart just as it breaks God’s heart and broke Jesus’ heart on the cross.  
     So what do we do about it? It is so simple, yet so hard. Paul gives us the answer it’s found in Philippians 4:8,9 “. . .whatsoever things are true, whatsoever  things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any  virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of  peace shall be with you.” Notice the God of Peace, not destruction shall be with 
you, and He will lead you. O my brethren we need to change our minds as Romans 12:1,2 tell us so we can be free of the torment which so easily besets us.  

     St. Austin observes, that there is in every man a Serpent, an Eve, and an Adam. Our senses and animal nature are the Serpent; our concupiscence is the Eve; and the Adam is our reason. Nature continually tempts us, concupiscence often covets, but sin is never finished, unless reason gives consent. Blaise Pascal 

There is a great deal of difference between falling into a temptation, and running into a temptation. The falling into a temptation shall work for good, not the running into it. He that falls into a river is capable of help and pity, but he that desperately turns into it is guilty of his own  death. Thomas Watson 

Temptation is like a knife, that may either cut the meat or the throat of a man; it may be his food or poison.            John Owen 

O Jesus, I have promised 
To serve Thee to the end; 
Be Thou for ever near me, 
My Master and my Friend: 
I shall not fear the battle 
If Thou art by my side, 
Nor wander from the pathway 
If Thou wilt be my Guide.
O let me feel Thee near me, 
The world is ever near; 
I see the sights that dazzle, 
The tempting sounds I hear: 
My foes are ever near me, 
Around me and within; 
But, Jesus, draw Thou nearer, 
And shield my soul from sin. 
O let me hear Thee speaking 
In accents clear and still, 
Above the storms of passion, 
The murmurs of self-will: 
O speak to re-assure me, 
To hasten or control; 
O speak, and make me listen, 
Thou Guardian of my soul.
O Jesus, Thou hast promised 
To all who follow Thee 
That where Thou art in glory 
There shall Thy servant be; 
And, Jesus, I have promised 
To serve Thee to the end; 
O give me grace to follow 
My Master and my Friend. 
                John E. Bode, 1868
     Lest any should misunderstand, I DO believe in a fallen angelic creature, called Lucifer, the devil if you will. He is the enemy of every mans soul and enemy of   my Lord and Saviour. I just believe all to many of us fall into traps of our own  devises by attributing to him that which is really our own doing. And thereby   cheating ourselves of the blessing of fellowship with our Heavenly Father through  confession.  

     Next time we will look at what has become of God’s will. Is it lost or has it  been found? Come with us and let’s see.                                    
                                                                                           God Bless You