When Temptation Comes Our Way
If I could go back and redo a part of the sermon on Sunday, it would be to spend more time reflecting on the personal application of Jesus being a part of our family album as the Son of God, particularly in our fight against temptation. All of us stand at the crossroads of temptation to sin in many ways. The heat of temptation burns in various degrees. For some, the fires of temptation are under control, and for others, it is raging like a forest fire.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul the Apostle tells us that we have three enemies. Each use temptation as a weapon against the throne of God — the devil, the flesh, and the world (Eph 2:2-3). Now, I don’t know to what degree the devil in his finiteness tempts us. Unlike our good Father, he can’t be everywhere at all times.What I do know is that the flesh and the world are constant bad travel partners (FYI, by world, Paul means the course or ways of this world that oppose God and by flesh he doesn’t mean our bodies but the “resilient foe” of our fallen nature).
What do we do when temptation comes our way from these enemies of our soul, especially the flesh and the world? When sharp words are ready to fly out of our mouths and when impatience and frustration are about to win the moment, what tactics will we employ? When, in the name of Jesus, we are tempted to not act like Jesus on social media, or when you feel more pleasure at looking than shutting the computer off or putting the phone down, how will we fight?
I am very helped by this article by Sinclair Ferguson called Holiness Means More Than Killing Sin. Ferguson helpfully writes that “Sanctification is not merely the process of overcoming our sin; it is, ultimately, becoming like the Lord Jesus.” While the account of Jesus’ temptation in Luke 4:1–13 isn’t first and foremost about us, it speaks powerfully to us about what Christ did as our representative and as our example. In Luke 4, as those who take refuge in the King, we see how to fight as he did. In essence, empowered by the Spirit and educated by the Word, Jesus kicked his will in and chose not to follow temptation.That is how we do it and in following our Lord, we become like him.
When temptation comes our way, empowered by the Spirit, educated by the Word, and exemplified by our King, we say no to sin and yes to the joy of obedience. We put our Spirit-empowered wills into motion and we decide not to follow the beckoning of temptation. When tempted to sharpness, we decide to speak kindly and actually do it. When encouraged to be judgmental at a person with a different opinion, we humbly listen. When tempted to click, we turn off or turn away to something else. We act and do that which is pleasing to our Father, like a child of God who is imitating Jesus, the Son of God. The Advent season is for looking, and looking is for running. I thank God for the inexpressible gift of his Son -- a gift wrapped in human flesh as both our representative and example! Let’s keep looking at our King and running the race set before us this week.
P.S. Do you want some encouragement in this area of acting in obedience? Check out Jarvis Williams here!