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One of the aspects, in understanding Jesus’ “human nature”, that is essential to our faith is Hebrews 4:15 : “…tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”  It’s encouraging to me to know that my Savior was tempted as I am daily yet overcame.  It’s comforting to know that I serve a King who, although he had the ability to sin just as I do, was so fixed on His God that He was able to overcome temptation, and remain sinless.  What a rock solid messiah we seek to follow.

This past week we had a bible gathering in which one of the young men in our church spoke on Jesus being tempted.  He (shout out to Kenny… … who, will, probably never read this:), was making the point that Jesus, when tempted, was spiritually in tuned enough to resist temptation, thus bringing his God glory, rather than falling into sin.  In reference to Jesus being tempted on the high mountain (Matthew 4:8-11), the ESV study bible states:   –  “The devil offers a shortcut to Jesus’ future reign in God’s kingdom–a shortcut that side steps Jesus’ redemptive work on the cross and comes at the cost of exchanging the love of the Father for the worship of Satan.”  

As the discussion goes on whether or not we can manifest the the holy spirit in the same ways as those in the early church, one way that I definitely see the spirit’s active work is in a Christian’s “newness of life” and our ability to resist temptation.  How often does the devil attempt to offer us shortcuts (to things that God has promised us in the coming Kingdom) that cause us to “exchange the love of the Father for the worship of Satan”?  Whether it’s added pleasure/less pain, recognition, peace, comfort, notoriety, we’re tempted daily to pursue (fleeting) things of the world, pulling us away from our love for God and our pursuit of the (eternal) kingdom.  The devil is continuously trying to get us to seek a counterfeit joy now, knowing that “true joy” he doesn’t have the ability to grant us.  I feel a Christian initially sees the holy spirit alive as they begin to turn to God to resist selfish gains, and see God change us from chasing after false joy/momentary pleasures, to resisting desires that pull us away from bringing Him glory & seeking genuine, eternal joy.

Once we allow God to miraculously work through the spirit in purifying and changing our hearts to walk more like Jesus’ display of holiness (in resisting temptation), the pressing need to grasp at the spirit’s help for us to imitate Jesus’ compassion for others can next be pursued & exhibited.  It was easily seen from just a few examples during Kenny’s bible discussion, that we live in an extremely dark world.  Even nightly at work I’m constantly reminded of the fallen state mankind is in, as continuous calls come in dealing with the worst things man can do to each other, and themselves.  With this realization comes our opportunity as Christ followers to get our Matthew 5:16 walk on, allowing God’s light to shine in the darkness through us, in an attempt to lead souls to salvation, something Jesus was exhaustively engaged in, ultimately for God’s glory.

Neither one of these aspects, resisting temptation and shining forth light in the darkness, can come to fruition without the work of God’s holy spirit through us. Convicted in areas where I am weak, (prayer, scripture reading, fasting…) the urgency to actively seek out and diligently put into action God’s gift of spirit given to us is great.  Temptations are lurking at every corner, and darkness is continuing to consume the world and the people in it; no better time than today to “fan into flame the gift of God” (1 Timothy 1:6), so we can first live new lives that resist temptation and then use these lives to shine forth God’s light.

6 Responses to “Tempted in all Ways/Light Shines in the Darkness”

  1. on 16 Sep 2012 at 5:15 pmDoubting Thomas

    Good article Russell,
    We are all tempted in our lives. For me personally my greatest temptation is smoking cigarettes. I recently quit for about 2 months, but then started back up again (after being tempted at a family BBQ where other people were smoking). I just bought some nicotine gum and am getting ready to try to quit again. I of course will be doing a lot of praying that God takes away my temptations, and makes it easier for me to quit. I plan on quitting during this upcoming week.

    All of us have our own temptations that we have to struggle with. In your article you said, “Neither one of these aspects, resisting temptation and shining forth light in the darkness, can come to fruition without the work of God’s holy spirit through us.” I pray that God’s holy spirit will be strong in me for the next several months so that I can defeat my addiction…

  2. on 17 Sep 2012 at 3:57 amJaco

    Hi, Tom

    Quitting an addiction can be very hard. An addiction is nothing more than a disruptive habit. As habitual creatures we are hard-wired to create habits for ourselves, all for different purposes.

    What I can urge you to do is to see what emotional role smoking plays in your life. As irrational as it may sounds, the habit is a symbolic dramatization of some emotional need inside of us. Its sin value is intoduced when this habit prohibits us from reaching our full spiritual potential (“falling short”).

    As with any other thing we fight, we should try not to demonize it too much and in the process alienate ourselves of a legitimate need we would have addressed otherwise.

    Hope all goes well, brother.

    Jaco

  3. on 17 Sep 2012 at 2:12 pmDoubting Thomas

    Thanks Jaco… 🙂

  4. on 18 Sep 2012 at 12:43 pmRussell

    Doubting Thomas… thanks for the comments.

    I think of two things when it comes to addictions.

    1. Discipline: I remember a Ravenhill “sermon jam” when he was speaking about John Wesley’s discipline –
    — “There was no time wasted in his life. He was methodical and systematic. He went to dinner with the greatest man in English literature and the man said, “Now you’ve finished dinner, let’s fold our legs under the table and have a nice time of conversation.”
    Wesley said, “I’m sorry, I have to go.”
    “But it’s not yet nine o’clock, why are you going?”
    Wesley said, “I have an appointment in the morning at four o’clock.”
    “At four o’clock tomorrow morning?!?”
    “Every morning of my life,” he said.
    “With whom?”
    “With God.”
    Wesley disciplined his life. He disciplined his body in eating. He disciplined his hand in his pocket.”–

    That’s awesome…I want that prayer discipline.
    Discipline reminds me of self-control which reminds me of Galatians 5 which reminds me of “fruit of the SPIRIT”. When I look back on the things that I was hooked on & needed deliverance from, I remember, after turning to God for help, seeing Him work in me to rid me of the desires for those things. His spirit at work in me is infinitely greater than my weak effort to defeat something (& usually fail).

    2. I also think of John Piper’s “joy in God” > “joy in whatever else”. I use that a lot as a self-confirmation for my faith. If I find myself needing to be delivered from something or just to rid my mind of a temptation, I remind myself that God is my sole joy and whatever other thing that may appear to be grabbing my attention/time/energy/money more than God, needs to be battled & diminished by the greater joy in God that I know my heart has.

  5. on 18 Sep 2012 at 2:54 pmtimothy

    Russel and Doubting Thomas,

    I just googled this study(below) on discipline and though very very long, it is great as it covers OT and NT examples.

    I had a military school education and discipline/punishment was power for course.

    http://www.bibleanswerstand.org/discipline.htm

    Timothy

  6. on 19 Sep 2012 at 5:24 pmDoubting Thomas

    Hi Russell,
    Thanks for your post. You are right about me requiring more discipline in my life. Especially my prayer life. There are some days that I don’t pray at all. I want to thank everyone for their encouragement and support…

  

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