In reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not fall in to temptation.”Luke 22:40
This past Easter, I was shopping a few days ahead of time to purchase what we would need for Easter lunch at our home when I spotted a cute coconut cake shaped like a bunny. He looked delicious, so I added him to my cart of items. I felt certain he would be completely gone at the conclusion of our Easter lunch.
I was wrong. Half of the cake was left when all the dishes were washed and put away.
I was left to stare at what was left of his mangled body. I could almost taste the thick and sweet frosting I had tasted the day before. The frosting covered a fluffy and soft cake. My mouth watered each time I passed the glass cake pedestal that held what was left of the decadent treat.
I contemplated throwing what was left in the garbage. I knew there was no way I would eat it out of the trash, so that would solve my problem. But a part of me was reserved. Even though I told myself I wasn’t going to eat anymore, I still wanted the option. And I justified my decision by reminding myself that it would be wasteful to throw it away.
Before I started a regular exercise routine, I would have probably finished him off so that the temptation didn’t exist the next day, but I was trying to be strong. I told myself, “You have worked too hard to cave now. Resist. Resist, woman!”
And then another voice would say, “Just a little bite won’t hurt you. Go for it.” An internal battle, over a silly cake, took place ending in me taking a small bite of the cake…then another. I ate a couple of bites straight from the cake plate thinking I would eat less. I didn’t.
And then I felt sick. Sick that I had given in, sick that my flesh had won, sick that I didn’t resist temptation, and physically sick because my body was not accustomed to all the sugar I had just indulged.
I started to think about all the times our flesh wins in the battle against temptation. I began to read about how Jesus was tempted many times throughout the Bible.
Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit in to the wilderness where he was tempted and tested by the devil (Matthew 4:1). Jesus had been without food for forty days and nights when the tempter told him, “If you are the son of man, turn these stones into loaves of bread.” (Matthew 4:3-4).
Imagine being without food for forty days. I would be hangry (combination of hunger and anger) and on the verge of death. Just ask my husband how I act when I haven’t had food for awhile.
Yet, Jesus’ response was Deuteronomy 8:3, “Man should not live by bread alone but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4: 4)
Jesus was tempted in Matthew 4:1-4 with lust of the flesh—just as we are today.
The second temptation Jesus faced found Matthew 4:5-7 is pride. Satan takes him into the holy city, places him on a ledge, and tells him to throw himself down. He taunts Jesus by saying, “If you are who you say you are, your angels will catch you.”
Jesus recites Deuteronomy 6:16, “We shouldn’t test God.” He stands strong in the word throughout this second temptation.
The devil tried a third time by tempting Jesus with lust of the eyes. He took him on a high place and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory, splendor, and magnificence of them. He promised to give all of these things to Jesus if he would bow down before him and worship him. (Matthew 4:8-9)
Jesus went on to say, “Begone, Satan! For it is has been written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him alone shall you serve.” (Matthew 4:10)
Satan departed and angels came to minister to him.
Sure, I am writing about my temptation with cake above, and some of the verses quoted refer to food, but there are so many things we could use to fill in the blanks. And the issue is a lot bigger than a piece of cake or a loaf of bread.
The issue is when we don’t allow our spirits to have control over our flesh. So many people struggle with sin in everyday life: lust, selfishness, gluttony, cheating, lying, gossiping, coveting what belongs to a neighbor—including his/her spouse.
The Bible tells us of several occasions where Jesus was tempted, yet we know Jesus never sinned. He was tempted because he was human. Temptations, in and of itself, is not a sin. It is the action we take after that temptation has occurred.
I know I have been tempted to lie to avoid confrontation, I have been tempted to eat too much and sometimes have, I have been tempted to feel jealousy in my heart and have to fight it off.
Sin occurs when we decide to let the seed of jealousy take root and sprout in our hearts or when we decide to tell a white lie to keep the peace or when we know we are physically full but decide to eat one more cookie or bowl of ice cream.
Jesus gives us a great example of what we are supposed to do when faced with temptation.
Hide the Word in Your Heart
Hiding the word in our hearts means that we not only know what God says for us to do, but we keep it inside of us. If the word is hidden in our hearts, we will remember it. It will become second nature to us. The more time we spend with God and his word, the more prepared we are to battle temptation when faced with it.
When we become lax in our walk with God, we begin to stumble and fall prey to the devil’s lies and temptations. We aren’t strong enough to fight off what he has to offer because it appeals to our fleshly and sinful nature.
In Matthew 4, Jesus recites the Word of God to Satan as part of his defense against him, and it works. The devil doesn’t stand a chance again the Word—which is one letter short of “Sword.”
“I have hidden the word in my heart so that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11
Call Upon the Lord
If we are following the Lord and praying to him, he will rescue us in our time of trouble. The Lord’s prayer is the perfect prayer. God uses it to teach us how to pray. Part of that prayer is, “Lead me not into temptation, and deliver me from the evil one.” He will bring to light what is dark in our lives, and he will provide a way out. He knows his children. He knows the ones that love him. He knows their hearts, and he wants to keep them safe.
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 2 Corinthians 10:13
Even if we fall into sin through temptation, he provides a way out. It’s up to us whether or not we take it. He can turn a bad situation into something wonderful for his glory. He is the author of making beauty from ashes.
Guard Your Heart
One of the best and most proactive approaches to avoiding temptation is to guard your heart. Proverbs 4:23, “Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life.”
We can’t go to sleep at the gates of our hearts. When we do, the devil will find the crack and make his way in. It is easier for him to attack when we aren’t fully alert. Staying fully alert means daily time spent in prayer and in the Word of God. It is our best defense.
Sin is a slow fade. Typically, Christians don’t intentionally sin, but little by little, we can slide off the slope knee deep in a nasty situation God never intended for us to be in.
The good news is God offers grace and forgiveness. When we fail, he is there, waiting to pick us up out of the mire, clean us up and make us good as new. Grace is not an excuse to sin, but rather it should motivate us to a closer walk with the Father.
Father, thank you for your grace, mercy, forgiveness, and salvation. Thank you for making all things new. Give us wisdom to keep us out of tempting situations, and help us not to fall prey to the devil’s evil schemes. We love you and honor you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Jennifer Smith loves Jesus and ministering to others. Her passion is to help people have aha moments and discover their true purpose and identity in Christ. She enjoys painting with acrylics and with words while raising two boys alongside her husband of eleven years.
You can find more of Jennifer's writing at www.sharingloveandlife.com.
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