Last week I spoke on the temptation of Jesus. Take a look at it if you get a chance. It’s in Matthew 4. It’s a few short verses about Jesus resisting the temptation to do anything but trust in His Father.
We’re all vulnerable to temptation. Take a survey and you find the point of the attack comes in very obvious ways. Some of us are addicted to power, some to sex, and many to money. Who hasn’t played the comparison game when it comes to looks, talents, and possessions? Food is a place of vulnerability for many of us. Until you know where you’re vulnerable, understand it, own it, and confess it you’re prone to be tempted in those areas. And the truth is even if you know where your weakness lies you can still feel like you’re walking on shifting sand. For the truth of the matter is that we’re tempted because we’re human.
So, temptation is going to come your way. We’re in the middle of a spiritual battleground all day everyday.
It’s been said that we are most vulnerable to temptations when we are hungy, angry, lonely or tired or any combination of the above. It’s then that we try to fight temptation with will power, a snappy slogan, or a quick trip to Barnes and Noble for the latest self-help book. They don’t work. Not for the long haul.
You know the great and radical claim of Christianity –the great difference between us and other world religions and philosophies is this … Jesus offers to live in and through us. That means that we have the living God and His power and authority working on our behalf. Where we’re weak He’s strong. And yet, so often, we try to go it alone not allowing God to do the heavy lifting. So why don’t we take advantage of everything the Lord offers us?
The other night Anita shared with me something her friend author Larry Crabbe said at a conference. At a time of need in his life he prayed. Lord I know you’re all that I have but I don’t know you well enough for you to be all that I need.
That helped me understand something. The reason a lot of people don’t turn to God for help in the midst of temptation is that the God they need isn’t the God they know. Because if they really knew the great God of the Bible they wouldn’t settle for the trinket god of self-help or the god of the next best thing. The god so many people don’t quite know isn’t really the God of the Bible. It's at best, a caricature of the real God.
Is the God you need a God you know?
Jesus's life is always instructive. His intimacy with the Father came, in part, because of His knowledge of the scripture. And when push came to shove in his showdown in the desert He relied on that knowledge to thwart evil intentions.
So, are you a student of the Scripture?
I remember a story about someone approaching a holy person and asking the question …”How long will it take me to master the Scriptures?” The holy one said, “A better question is how long will it take for the scriptures to master you?”
I think Jesus allowed the Scriptures to penetrate His very being and was very much a factor in His amazing intimacy with the Father.
We will be tempted. We will also be tempted to fight temptation under our own power. We only delay the inevitable. For the only way to fight the temptation of the devil is with the power of God and the word of God.
So I’m asking myself some questions.
Will I allow the God I need to truly take deeper residence in my life?
Am I willing to commit myself to more intensive study of the Scriptures, allowing the word of God to grab hold of me in deeper ways?
Good questions. Hard ones though. Life changing for sure.