Overcoming Temptation

IMGThen was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
Matthew 4:1 (KJV)

With this article I would like to talk a bit about temptation and how we should understand it. When asking God about my own struggles with temptation and failures He reminded me of Christ’s experience in the wilderness with Satan.

And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
Matthew 4:2 (KJV)

First off and this is kind of obvious but worth mentioning; Jesus was really hungry. Speaking for myself I understood that He was hungry, but to me it was somehow a different kind of hunger than us mere mortals experience, after all He was God come in the flesh. But if Jesus was both fully man and fully God He had to have experienced it just as we do, not some diminished version of it.

And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Matthew 4:3-4 (KJV)

If Jesus was not fully human it would have been kind of silly for Satan to tempt Him to satisfy His belly, wouldn’t it? Did Jesus have a free will? Of course He did, however He purposed in His heart to do the Father’s will even though His flesh screamed for sustenance. Jesus was tempted just as much as we are in our flesh, yet He chose not yield to it.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
1 Corinthians 6:19 (KJV)

Understanding that Christ was both fully man and fully God is important because when we choose to follow Christ we also have a form of that same Godliness within us which we call the Holy Spirit.

Why Did Christ Fast?

And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Matthew 3:16-17 (KJV)

What was the big deal with Jesus eating a piece of bread? After all He was fully human and needed sustenance. This is where it gets more interesting because a study of the Word reveal that this period of fasting occurred as a critical time in Christ’s life. It was immediately after He was baptized, that is, dedicated to God’s service and just before He started His earthly ministry.

Why Must We Fast?

Throughout the bible we are taught the importance of fasting yet so few Christians actually do it. Then we wonder why spiritually speaking many of us feel like we are stuck in second gear and don’t get answers to our prayers. If Christ Himself had to fast in order to jumpstart His ministry then so do we.

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
John 21:15 (KJV)

Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
Matthew 26:38-39 (KJV)

Do you love Christ more than satisfying your flesh? Do you put the will of the Father ahead of your own? Denying our flesh hurts, but God is showing me that it is the only way His Spirit in us can gain strength. He isn’t trying to punish us but teach us a new way of living; by His Spirit, not our fleshly desires. Self-flagellation will not do it; we are not punishing ourselves but rather bringing our flesh under subjection to God’s Spirit living in us.

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
1 Corinthians 9:27 (KJV)

Stopping fornication, drunkenness and other fleshly lusts is crucial, yet it is just the beginning. Christ taught us to even look upon another person with lust is a sin.We can plainly see that keeping this flesh under subjection is a lifetime challenge; it doesn’t end until we leave these mortal bodies.

Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
Matthew 17:19-21 (KJV)

When we have problems keeping our flesh under subjection fasting is especially important because it helps us to overcome it. Compulsive behavior is always demonically rooted, this is why Christ advised them to fast and pray; because it is the only way that these types of demonic strongholds may be broken.

Jesus remarked to them that it was specifically because of their unbelief that they were unable to cast out the demon. Unbelief is the opposite of faith, so from this we may learn that fasting and praying builds up our faith. It is in fact the work of fasting that builds our faith because ‘faith without works is dead’ (James 2:17 KJV). Click here to read more about Faith, Righteousness and the First Works.

Why Are We Still Sinners?

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
1 Timothy 1:15 (KJV)

It hurts my heart so much every time I give in to the temptation to sin, or when I do it unintentionally through a lack of vigilance. The other day I told God I wished He could just take my sin nature away from me, but instead He explained to me the dual purpose it has in the Christian’s life.

First, we have to learn to deal with temptation; to experience it fully, yet not submit to it, just like He did in the wilderness. More and more I find myself making direct comparisons between my life and that of Jesus. As it turns out this is exactly what He wants us all to do; to become Christ like by taking up our cross on a daily basis and following Him. Of course He was perfect in every way which we cannot even begin to measure up to. Yet as pleasant as it would be to our flesh to be able to sin all we want and just put it on Jesus’ tab that is not the way it works.

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Philippians 2:12 (KJV)

Contrary to what the Great Harlot church teaches we do have works to perform as part of our salvation. We must try our very best not to sin because the work of the cross is supplementary. Once again this is because faith without works is dead (James 2:17 KJV). We all must do the ‘first works’ (Revelation 2:5 KJV) or else we will end up like the unprofitable servant of Matthew 25. We all fall short which is why the blood of Christ is necessary to bridge the gap.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (KJV)

The second purpose of this sin nature is just as important; we have to own our sin. Every time I stumble and give in to temptation I am reminded of how utterly helpless I am without Christ and how much I deserve to go to Hell. Without Christ’s grace, without His righteousness being imputed to us who could stand blameless before the Father on Judgment day?

Most Christians simply cannot deal with living their lives at this level of brokenness because it inevitably brings us to a place of contriteness and utter humility. Here I am yet again Lord, I screwed up again. Please forgive me, again? And when we sincerely ask He is always faithful to do so, Praise God!

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