We have all experienced temptations of various kinds. We are tempted to yell at our children, to waste time, or to complain about our circumstances. We are tempted to disbelieve God, ignore his word and gossip about other people. Temptation has been around since the time of Adam and Eve and it won’t go away until Christ returns. Simply put temptations are Satan’s tools to get us to chose evil and forsake good.
Even Jesus was not spared from experiencing these attacks from the devil, but he preserved through them for his glory and for our good.
Jesus did not just hang out in the desert for 40 days, experiencing a bit of heat and hunger and on occasion the annoying taunts of the devil. It was 40 days of relentless real temptation from Satan. The reason it was so hard was because Christ did not give in. “He fought every temptation, every time, fully, experiencing the unmitigated force of each temptation until he had succeeded in defeating each one, coming out the other side victorious.” (Bruce Ware, The Man Christ Jesus) It was 40 days of torture.
Because Christ suffered and persevered through his temptations he is able to sympathize with us in a number of ways (Heb 4:15).
1. His sympathy is wise.
He knows those who belong to him better than they know themselves. He knows his sheep (Jn. 10:14) God knows all the intricate bits of our lives and every single detail of the difficulty and temptations that we face. He knows exactly what we are going through, and is therefore best equipped to help.
2. His sympathy is practical
Jesus does not simply give us words of kindness or compassion. He goes beyond this by acting in our lives to bring about perseverance, joy, power and grace. “Not satisfied with a mere expression of sympathy, Christ imparts skill to fence, power to bear, grace to overcome.” (Octavious Winslow, Christ and the Christian in Temptation, 1877)
3. His sympathy is tender
It is easy for some to view Jesus as this stoic man who only ever talked about spiritual things. It is hard to imagine Jesus and his friends sitting around talking about the weather, sandals, marriage or the new restaurant in town. Though Jesus was God he also was fully man and had emotions like you and me. He laughed and was joyful, he felt love and anger, he felt compassion even to the point of weeping for a friend who had died (Jn, 11:35). He feels a tenderness for you when you are being tempted. He has been there, he is a “fellow sufferer” and knows how difficult temptations can be.
“He is touched with our misery, touched with our temptation, touched with our grief.” (Octavious Winslow, Christ and the Christian in Temptation, 1877)
4. His sympathy is prayerful
I love this. Jesus prays for you – for me! He cares so much that speaks to the Father on our behalf, for our good (Romans 8:34; Lk. 22:31). Do you see the endless amount of grace and kindness Jesus pours out on us? Do you see what a generous savior we have? His prayer for our perseverance ensures our victory.
Just as the devil tempted Christ he tempts us as well. While he cannot take away our salvation he will try everything in his power to rob us of our communion with Christ, to make us weak and useless for the advancement of the kingdom of God. He sets his sights on you and your destruction because in Christ you have everything.
“Pirates do not set upon poor empty vessels; and beggars need not fear the thief. Those that have most of God, and are most rich in grace – shall be most assaulted by Satan, who is the greatest and craftiest pirate in the world.”
(Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, 1652)
But while Satan’s goal is our ruin, God uses it for our good, for the testing and strengthening of our faith (James 1:12-13).
Here are three ways in which we can resist.
1. Stay close to God’s word.
The Bible is a grace that God has placed in our lives. We need to read it and know it well because it is for our salvation, our growth and our protection.(Prov. 12:24; Gal. 6:16)
If we let go of God’s word, then Satan will take us by the hand and lead us into his snares. (Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, 1652)
2. Seek Wisdom
There is a difference between being educated and being wise. Wisdom is God’s word applied to our daily lives. (Prov. 15:24)
“It is not the most knowing Christian—but the most wise Christian, who sees, avoids, and escapes Satan’s snares.” (Thomas Brooks)
3. Be watchful
Satan is watchful for any opportunity to damage us. Whether it be in small ways or in big ways. He wants to steal our peace, pervert our conscience, break our joy and feed us guilt and despair. (1 Peter 5:8).
Satan will try and whisper all kinds of lies and reasons for us to to give in. Do not reason with temptations, but resist them by running to Christ for help. Say with Catherine Bretterege “Reason not with me, I am but a weak woman, if you have anything to say, say it to my Christ; he is my advocate, my strength and my redeemer, he shall plead for me.”
Looking to Jesus,