Monday, July 16, 2007

Jesus, Temptation, and Sin

"A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it; and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means‚ the only complete realist."~ C. S. Lewis; Mere Christianity

Jesus faced real temptations. They were not‚ make believe temptations Jesus was incapable of acting on, but they were temptations which Jesus desired and struggled with. Hebrews 4:15 reads: This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin (NLT). The reason Jesus is the perfect sacrifice for our sins is because He faced His temptations and did not give into these temptations. So if Jesus was incapable of acting on these temptations then they wouldn't be real temptations, because by His nature He is incapable of sinning.

Let me throw this thought out to you. Jesus' sinless, His ability to resist temptation, is the result of His character rather than His nature. The fact that Jesus faced temptation and remained sinless speaks volumes about His character and relationship to His Heavenly Father. I find comfort in surrendering my life to God who has chosen not to sin. The reason God cannot sin is because sin violates the character of God.

Isn't Jesus' character is revealed by the fact He did not sin? Sin at its heart is selfish. That is why the entire Law of God hangs on love. We are to love the Lord our God with our entire being and to love each other as ourselves. The foundation of sin then is to ignore or use others while we seek to satisfy our desires.

By not sinning Jesus demonstrated His love for His Father. Jesus sought to do things according to His Father's will, not what was easiest or what would satisfy Jesus. Through His obedience to the greatest commandment Jesus overcame temptation and remained sinless.

By not sinning Jesus demonstrated His love for people. In the Gospels we constantly read how Jesus had compassion the crowds. He would take time to heal the sick and teach rather than seeking time for Himself. Jesus even died on a cross, crucified by sinful men, rather than calling 10,000 angels to come and rescue Him. Through His service to people, His obedience to the second great commandment, Jesus overcame temptation and remained sinless.

Jesus' relationship with God is revealed by the fact He did not sin. Philippians 2:6-8 reads:
Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He mad himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal's death on a cross (NLT).
Jesus gave up His rights and humbled Himself to carry out God's plan. Jesus was willing to glorify God through His obedience even though it would cost Him great pain. What mattered most to Jesus was that God would be glorified through Jesus' life and death and resurrection. By humbling Himself and choosing to obey the Father Jesus showed that His relationship with His Father was the most important thing to Jesus.

Jesus struggled with temptation. He alone knows the full power temptation has on a person's life, because He alone chose not to give into the temptations He experienced. It was a struggle Jesus would ultimately win on the cross:
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest honor beside God’s throne in heaven. Think about all he endured when sinful people did such terrible things to him, so that you don’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin (Hebrews 12:2-4; NLT).

Jesus gave up His life in His struggle against temptation and sin. What are you going to give up so you can have victory?

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