Friday, June 22, 2007

The Purpose of Temptation

Matthew 4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil.

Does this seem like a strange verse to you? It does to me. Why would the Spirit lead Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted, and if He led Jesus to be tempted does that mean that He also leads us to be tempted? There are a few different things that we need to look at here; a few different questions that we need to find answers for.

The first is this, why would God allow us to be tempted? The Bible is clear that God is not tempted by evil and that He does not tempt anyone; we are tempted to sin by our own evil desires (James 1:13-14). So one reason that God allows us to be tempted is to reveal to us what is in our hearts. We will never deal with the sin in our lives if we don't acknowledge that it is there.

The next question we need to ask then is this; if our temptation reveals the sin that is present in our hearts does that mean that we are helpless to overcome it? Not at all! God expects us to turn to Him for strength in our time of temptation and He will provide a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). Remember, God is holy and He hates sin; the purpose of allowing temptation is never to allow us to sin (if we choose to submit to the temptation instead of submitting to God we are showing ourselves to be the sinners that we are) but to make us realize how dependent we must be on Him to overcome the sin in our lives. It is only through His power that we can overcome the power of sin.

And lastly, if Jesus is God (and He is) why would He need to be tempted? To answer that question we need to look at the letter to the Hebrews. Hebrews 2:18 says, "For since He Himself was tested and has suffered, He is able to help those who are tested." and Hebrews 4:15 says, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin." The reason that Jesus faced temptation was so that He could sympathize with us, and understand what we face in our daily lives.

As you go throughout your day today rejoice in the fact that God is faithful, that He enables us to overcome the temptations we face as we rely on His power, and that we have Jesus, who understands what we are going through as our high priest.
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