February 26, 2023
The Reverend Dr. Carl W. Filer
Topic: Power Over Temptation
After Jesus was baptized, Matthew tells us that He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. This morning we'll take a look at how Jesus faced these temptations; and in so doing, it'll show us how we can face our temptations, too. Today, we're going to take a look at how to do that.
First of all, expect that you're going to be tempted. Matthew said, "Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." But there's an important distinction I want to make here. It wasn't God who tempted Jesus. God doesn't tempt us to sin, but He gives us power over temptation.
Another thing I want you to realize is that temptation often follows a "peak" experience in our lives. Right before Jesus went to the wilderness to be tempted, He was baptized by John the Baptist. It was a high point for Jesus. And yet, it was right after this powerful event that Jesus faced the devil one on one. When things are going well for us, we have a tendency to think, "I'm on top of the world." But it doesn't work that way—in anyone's life. When you succeed in a big way, you can expect a time of testing to follow soon afterward.
Another thing I want you to realize about temptation is that it often attacks you where you're most vulnerable. After Jesus had been alone in the desert for forty days and nights without any food, the tempter came to Him and said, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." The devil knew that the idea of eating food was the most tempting thought he could put in Jesus' mind at the time. He wanted Jesus to abuse His power for His own needs, and so he attacked Him where He was most vulnerable. That's exactly how temptation presents itself in our lives. Does that mean we have to throw in the towel and give in to temptation? No. It means we have to face the temptation in God's strength—not our own.
And then, secondly, we've got to understand how temptation works in our lives. Temptation, by its very nature, uses a kind of twisted logic. It's deceptive, just like Satan is. Satan knows what buttons to push, and he'll use whatever twisted logic he can. So, we've got to understand what he's up to.
And finally, we need to attack the temptation head on. How did Jesus respond to temptation? He responded with the Word of God. The words of Scripture give us strength in the face of temptation. We can stand up and boldly say, "Get lost, Satan! There's no way I'm going to commit that sin!" In the face of temptation, we reaffirm our commitment to God, reminding ourselves that we belong to Him—that He is our Lord—He and no other.