The Ground of Temptation—Is this Holy Ground?

What I Learned In Church

Luke 4:1-13 (NIV)

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’” The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’” The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

            Temptation is tempting is it not? It’s part of our daily lives. I know I’ve been tempted many times. Especially when I’m trying to lose weight. It seems as though temptation won’t leave me alone. It’s hard to fight. All I want is what I don’t need. My brain knows I don’t need it, but temptation keeps nudging me forward to that which I shouldn’t do. No matter how hard I try to ignore temptation, it keeps whispering in my ear, “It’s okay. You deserve it.” Before I know what hit me, I find myself reaching out. Just one piece of candy. One bag of chips. It’s only one brownie. What’s that gonna hurt, right?

The question becomes, how do we put our faith in Jesus and deal with the temptation? We look at Jesus’ temptation in the desert. How He dealt with the devil. He’s been called to be the Savior. So how is He going to be if He can’t ward off temptation?

            First temptation: Hunger and tempting Him to satisfy His hunger. He has a physical need but He has a spiritual calling. When the devil preys on that hunger Jesus says, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”

            Second temptation: The devil then turns political-tempting Jesus with power. But in return, He must bow down to the devil. Jesus denies this and rejects the temptation. He says, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”

            Third temptation: Finally, the devil decides to test Jesus with pride and ego. He entices Him to show off by throwing Himself off the cliff. Offering popularity and celebrity status. Not deterred Jesus replies, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

            Next, we must look at magical religion versus moral religion. Magical religion is what God can do for us. Moral religion is what God does in and through our lives. God partnering with us and empowering us to do His will.

            We want power because we feel we can influence others rather than being moral and showing others how God wants us to be and influencing others that way.

            If we only look, we see that we can find strength through God. God gives us the capacity we need to face temptation.

            We all are given to temptation at some point but if we ask God’s help He will help. It’s not about how strong we are, it’s about trusting in the strength that only God can give us.

Anna B. Warner wrote a song in 1860 entitled “Jesus Loves Me.” As a child, I sang that song a million times. Its lyrics tell us that we are weak but He is strong. Jesus truly showed His strength in the desert as He faced the devil and all the devil could dish out in the way of temptation. Jesus pushed back at temptation and He won.

            How do you push back when temptation comes knocking? Do you rely on your own strength or do you ask God for help? Like Jesus discovered there are all sorts of temptations. I submit in today’s world we face even more temptations than even our parents and grandparents faced. We have more accessibility to things. Temptation loves to use those things to get us to look away from God.

            The next time you find yourself in the wilderness, it might be a good idea to ask God for help.

Photo by ashok acharya on Unsplash

And that’s what I learned in Church……see ya next time!