The following post was written by Tim Smith, member at Seven Mile Road Church
This past Sunday we continued in our series Conversations with Jesus as a church family. We read and heard God’s Word from Luke 4:1-13 and the all-familiar story/interaction of Satan tempting Jesus.
As I was reflecting, there is indeed great comfort in the points shared from Sunday’s sermon:
- In our greatest temptation – Jesus can/will be our sympathetic ally (Heb. 2:18, 4:15)
- Jesus is always our substitute & Savior
- Those in Jesus have victory over the tempter.
These truths are so helpful as we consider the history of repeated failure – from Adam in the garden, to the people of Israel, to Peter denying Jesus, to you and me. The repeated failure does highlight the truth that where we failed, Jesus succeeded. It’s comforting that through his victory over sin and temptation, we have the atonement, forgiveness of sins, and righteousness that can be found in Christ, all because of His death on the cross and resurrection.
As I’ve been reflecting on the Word of God in this text this week, I found myself asking God, “what does Jesus’ interaction with Satan teach me about my interaction with temptation?” I want to share with you what God pressed on my heart in hopes that it encourages you as well. Here it is: Jesus uses the authoritative Word of God to fight temptation, therefore so should I. Let me repeat that, Jesus uses the authoritative Word of God to fight temptation, therefore so should I.
Satan addresses Jesus as “the son of God” (v3,9) but Jesus responds from His humanity as a man. And he responds with “it is written” (v4, 8). Did you catch that? When Jesus was tempted, in his humanity, he didn’t make up an excuse, justify his actions, defend, argue or use some supernatural act – he used the authoritative Word of God to fight temptation. (1st temptation, Deut. 8:3; 2nd temptation, Deut. 6:13; 3rd temptation, Deut. 6:16)) Jesus well had the authority and power to turn every stone into bread – however, Jesus knew the power of Scripture and he relied on its authority to fight temptation.
Here’s what’s so comforting and encouraging about Jesus using Scripture to fight temptation – that gives me great hope in how I fight my temptations! You see, if Jesus had done some miraculous act or some supernatural ability to fight temptation, it would be difficult for me to relate. I can’t do the supernatural and I can’t do the miraculous. However, I can quote Scripture, I can read my bible to learn more of God’s Word, I can, in the face of temptation, as a human (just like Jesus), fight the temptation(s) of the enemy with the power and authority of Scripture. Sometimes I overthink it, I can defeat myself and give up too easily, before I ever start the fight. (Or we believe some drastic life altering measure needs to take place to fight temptation) Remove this, change that, cut off this, abandon that, etc. Yes, in some contexts we need to take drastic measures (Matt. 5:29) to fight our sin/temptation and we should always work towards considering removing the “things” that stir our temptations. But, I can start by learning from Jesus’ example and fight temptation, simply by and through the authority of God’s Word.
So here’s the thing – how much more than should we as believers, as a church family, be saturating ourselves in Scripture to know the truth of God’s Word. As new parents, we try to read Scripture with our girls when we can – they’re both under 2 at this point so attention span and comprehension are limited. But, they will one day face temptation (in fact our oldest is already showing signs of jealousy with some toys) – they need to know God’s word to fight temptation. When we are faced with temptation we can use the knowledge and authority of God’s Word to overcome the tempter and his temptations.
Oh, and here’s another thing – the enemy knows Scripture too (Ps. 91:11). And to be completely frank, he knows it far better than you and I do. That’s how temptation works: it takes the truths that we know and provides a subtle twist/nudge/misguidance of the truth to make it appear to be right and justifiable. (Satan is called the “Father of lies”, John 8:44)
I do believe a list of examples where the authoritative word of God encourages/equips us to fight the enemy’s temptations is exhaustive for this reflection. However, here’s one that’s been more recent for me as I interact with my children at 3 am when they aren’t sleeping. When I’m feeling the temptation for unwholesome talk (towards my spouse, children at 3 am, a co-worker, etc.) Scripture trains me to fight this temptation, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear (Eph. 4:29).
I know we’re all busy, but I’m willing to make a bet that we too flippantly use our “busyness” to keep us from God’s Word and equip ourselves with the tools to fight temptation. I know some days can’t afford you and I the time we want to sit down, uninterrupted to open God’s Word. While, I don’t think we should ever replace this desire; our family has found some other avenues to help us find time around God’s Word: like post verses around our home, write them on the bathroom mirror, listen to the bible on our commute to work, pray through a Psalm before we go to bed, etc. These small steps begin to saturate our heart and mind with Scripture. It’s not that I have to be perfect in my full knowledge of Scripture – to know every verse, every detail. Because indeed, where we fail, Jesus succeeds. However, if I am not regularly using God’s word to read, pray, study, meditate, reflect and learn God’s truth, then I will be prone to falling into temptation far more easily than I desire or care to admit. Psalm 119:11 reminds us, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”
As I continue to reflect on this interaction with Satan and Jesus, and my response to fight temptation, I find additional hope and confidence knowing that:
- Jesus resisted temptation as a human – this gives me hope because I am human too
- Jesus conquered temptation because He was “full of the Holy Spirit”- as a Christian Christ lives within me (Gal. 2:20), therefore I too have victory over the tempter
- I need to study/read God’s Word.
Friends, we need to be filled with God’s word! I don’t know how to stress the importance of this other than to say, you need to read/study Scripture. If you want to know God’s word to fight temptation, you must read and saturate yourself with God’s Word. Friend, our time spent in Scripture is not wasted! Maybe it’s 10 minutes today, but 30 minutes tomorrow. Our time spent in Scripture, it is profitable to train us in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16), which includes our ability to fight temptation(s).
We each know our temptations, may I encourage us to read God’s authoritative Word more often, to equip us with the knowledge and authority to help fight those temptations, just as Jesus did – and where we fail, rest assured that Jesus succeeded.