Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Temptation of Christ

Here are my notes from our Connection Class:  Legacy Builders February 3, 2013


I. Introduction/Icebreaker:  What is the difference between temptation and sin?

We can list some major sins:  murder, stealing, bearing false witness, adultery, drunkenness, lust, greed, coveting, pride, sexual immorality, gluttony, idolatry, sloth/laziness, selfishness, etc.
But really, sin can be boiled down in its essence to this:  Sin is disobeying God.  That entails both actions and inactions.  It involves asserting your own will over God’s will.
“But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.”  Romans 14:23 (NIV) (underlining added).

Temptation is when someone or something lures us away from doing what is right to doing what is wrong. – the devil – your own evil desires.

“But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.  Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”  James 1:14-15 (NASB)

Temptation of Adam & Eve
Eve was tempted by the devil in the Garden as he began to reason with her.
The devil questioned God’s command, and attempted to confused her – with Adam standing right there (Genesis 3:6).

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.  He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?” – Genesis 3:1 (NIV)

From the context, Eve (and Adam) did not sin until they actually took the fruit and ate it.

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.  She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.  Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. – Genesis 3:6-7 (NIV)

Does God ever tempt us? – No

“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.”  For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;” - James 1:13 (NIV).

Does God know what it is like to be tempted? (Really, the question is can God be tempted?)

Here is a much tougher question(s) and is more food for thought.  The answer, I think, lies in who God is - the Holy Trinity, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Yes & No

No. – In some ways it is silly to think that God could be tempted to “disobey Himself” or to do something that is contradictory to Himself.  He does not lie.

“God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.  Does he speak and then not act?  Does he promise and not fulfill?” – Numbers 23:19 (NIV)

“God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.” – Hebrews 6:18 (NIV)

Yes. – But, Jesus who is God was tempted – Luke 4: 1-13 & Matthew 4:1-11.

That is what we are going to look at today.

II. Jesus was Tempted in the Desert

First – Let’s look at what just happened to Jesus, the confirmation He just received from God about who He is.  Jesus was just baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan river and this is what happened:

“… and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’” Luke 3:22 (NIV); see also, Matthew 3:16-17.

Read Luke 4:1-13

Jesus was led to the desert by the Holy Spirit to be tempted by Satan.  The Holy Spirit led Jesus to this confrontation.  This was a very important event and Jesus comes out victorious, where Adam and Eve failed, Jesus wins!
Important note - God does not tempt Jesus - but does lead Jesus to the confrontation.  He allowed the confrontation.  As Pastor John said, this demonstrated Jesus victory over Satan.

Jesus was Really/Truly/Actually Tempted

Some doubt that Jesus was seriously tempted because He is after all God, part of the Holy Trinity.
(For my Christian audience, there is no doubt that He was God, so I won’t address that here.  For the non-Christian, there a numerous verses that address this truth – Phil. 2:5 addresses it below.)

But they forget that Jesus was also man.  He made Himself man
Christmas Story – Luke 2

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:  who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!  Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. - Phil 2:5-11 (NIV) (underlining added).

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.  For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants.  For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.  Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” - Heb. 2:14-18 (NIV) (underlining added).

Jesus was the one and only God-man - The way I understand it is like this He was miraculously 100% God and 100% man.

For 40 straight days he was tempted and yet He did not sin – Heb. 4:15 (see below)
By the way this wasn’t the end of His temptation – v. 13 tells us that the devil left him “until an opportune time.”  The implication here by Luke is that the devil continued to tempt Jesus
So, not only did he go 40 straight days, but He went His entire life being tempted and yet not ever, not once giving in to sin.  That is our Savior!  That is why only He is the Lamb of God able to take away the sin of the world!

Jesus knows your temptation – fully, completely, better than you do

Jesus was tempted and he knows our temptation
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.”  Hebrews 4:15 (NIV)
 “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” – Hebrews 2:18 (NIV)

The Word tells us that Jesus knows our temptation in everyway.  If you think that you are alone or that no one faces the temptations you face, you are wrong.  If you think you are unique in your struggle, you are wrong.  Not only does he know your temptation in every way – but He can help you! - look at Heb. 2:18 again.

He actually knows temptation better than you or me or anyone.  Who here has been tempted and resisted temptation for 40 straight days?  No one!

Look at how C.S. Lewis describes it:

C.S. Lewis:
“Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. ... We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means—the only complete realist.”

III. Detailed Look at the Temptation

What is the very first method of attack the devil used?
Doubt – of God and God’s word
“Did God really say …?
This is how he begins his attack on Jesus – IF you really are God’s son – prove it
Genesis 3:1 – Did God really say … - same way he tricked Adam & Eve

3 temptations Jesus faced
I like the way Matthew ordered them better.  The progression makes more sense to me.
1) Hunger – His human nature/weakness – and doubt what God said about Him being the Son, i.e. doubt His divine nature.
2) Pride - His human nature and doubt His divine nature – show your power.
3) His divine purpose – The very purpose for why Jesus came in the first place – to rescue men.
(after the lesson it occurred to me - maybe someone said this, I don’t know - that this is also a temptation of his human nature/weakness – fear.  Fear of going to the cross of separation from God, of death.  I’m focusing on His human nature here).

Luke flips the order of 2 and 3 above.  Since we are studying Luke, we’ll stick with those scripture references, but I have changed the order to reflect the order of Matthew.

First Temptation – Prove you are the Son of God and turn these stones to bread
Luke 4:3-4 – human need/hunger – fleshly desire – doubt His divine nature
Our human desires/weaknesses/needs are potential sources of temptation.
o Hunger tempts a person to steal for a loaf of bread – or cause Esau to trade his birthright for a bowl of soup.
o Need for social acceptance/notoriety/relevancy tempts a person share a prayer request that is really veiled gossip
o Need for sexual gratification tempts a person to lust or commit adultery
o Need for provision tempts a person to be greedy, be a hoarder, neglect the poor, not be generous, not tithe i.e. to love money

The examples are too numerous to list

This is where the devil begins the attack – the point of Jesus’ human weakness – his hunger. This is when Jesus would also be most vulnerable to doubt what God just said – that He is God’s son and that God is well pleased with Him.

Isn’t that when we doubt God?  At the point of our need, when life seems at its worst, we think our needs are not being met or that God doesn’t really care about us.  – Where do you think those thoughts and ideas are really coming from after reading this?  The devil!

How does Jesus respond?  With scripture!

“Man does not live on bread alone.” – Luke 4:4 (NIV)

Matthew records Jesus saying more – “..Man does not lie on bread alone, but from every word that comes from the mouth of God.” – Matthew 4:4 (NIV)

Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 8:3 (NIV) – “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

-Jesus is not just quoting a good memory verse here.  Jesus has another purpose for quoting this verse - He is reminding Satan (and himself too) that God is faithful and will provide for Him, just as He provided the Israelites with manna, when they could not feed themselves in the desert.  That gives full context to the answer.

Recalling scripture helps to remind us of who God is, what He has done and that he is indeed faithful to us!

Second Temptation – Prove you are the Son of God and show me your power.
Luke 4:9 – 12 - Power – doubt divine nature/appeal to human pride - show it angels will tend to you
another prove it challenge
appealing to His pride as a man

Kristen pointed out that the devil is also taunting God here.

This time the devil uses scripture.  We don’t often think that the devil will use scripture to tempt you? – but he does.
Also – it helps to explain to me at least how some can go to liberal-minded, worldly divinity schools, study the scriptures, but come back with the most twisted, evil misunderstandings of scripture.

This is one reason why context is King!  Context is so important.

The devil is using Psalm 91:11-12 (NIV) – “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”

How does Jesus respond?  Jesus puts it back in context – The Word also says, “do not put the Lord your God to the test.”  The scripture used by Satan, should be understood in the context of Deuteronomy 6:16 (NIV) – “Do not test the Lord your God as you did at Massah.”

I skipped this discussion in class in the interest of time
Context is important not just for Christians, but for everyone and everything.  Context is King is not just a made up principle, but rather is a way to keep interpretations more objective and closer to the truth as opposed to subjective and skewed by people's experiences, feelings, and circumstances.
It is how contracts are interpreted, how statutes are interpreted, how all ancient documents are interpreted, how any writing is interpreted – context.

Context – A scripture should be interpreted by understanding the plain meaning of the text, the words, first (there is where Greek meanings are important, and why certain translations are more accurate than others).

Then, it should be understood in the context of the surrounding verses, the surrounding chapter, the surrounding book/letter, the entire Bible.

Then, you can look at ancient historical/cultural context

Then you look at commentary and external references.  These sources should be treated skeptically – trusting in the Holy Spirit’s guidance as you read scripture.  That said, they can be very helpful, because they have done research and work that many of us simply have not had time to do – like listening to a sermon (which should also be scrutinized and tested by scripture in context).

Temptation – You don’t have to go to the cross, I’ll give you the whole world if you will just bow down and worship me.
Luke 4:5-8 – I think this was aimed at Christ’s ultimate desire.  Satan says, I will give you the whole world if you just bow down and worship me.

Jesus rebukes Him with scripture again! – “It is written worship the Lord your God and serve Him only!”

Deuteronomy 6:13 (NIV) – “Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.”

Why did Jesus come? – for us!  To save us, rescue us!  He came to get us!

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16 (NIV)

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Luke 19:10 (NIV)

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us … For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”  Rom. 5:8 & 10 (NIV).

“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”  1 Tim. 2:3-4 (NIV)

What do you think?  If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?  And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.  In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.”  Matthew 18:12-14 (NIV)

The Devil offered to Jesus what He came for  – all the people of the world

BUT of course this was not God’s intended way
It would involve God worshiping Satan – God forbid!
It would not involve the atoning sacrifice of Jesus’ blood to pay the price of all our sin
It was not God’s way or God’s design, and therefore was not God’s will

But I believe that this was still a serious temptation for Jesus
Remember Hebrews 2:18 says he suffered

Don’t forget – Jesus did not “want” to suffer and die and be separated from God, yet He wanted God’s will to be done!

Look at Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” – Luke 22:42 (NIV)

“Abba, Father, he said, “everthing is possible for you.  Take this cup from me.  Yet not what I will, but what you will. – Mark 14:36 (NIV).

This was a real temptation to Christ.

IV. How Should We Face Temptation?

Promise:  God will not let you be TEMPTED beyond what you can bear

To me, this is different than saying that God will never let you face more than you can handle
Of course He will allow that to happen – read Job.  It is when we face things that we can’t handle that we most often go to Him.

"So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!  No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." – 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 (NIV)

The truth/promise is three-fold
1) You are not facing anything beyond what is common to us all – your situation is no worse than anyone else’s.
        a. The first point from the devil is justification of your “struggle” - “well, you just don’t know what I’m going through … you just don’t understand how hard it is for me.”
        b. That is a lie from the devil.
        c. It goes hand in hand with the response – “don’t judge me!”
        d. Remember the verses above – Jesus knows your temptation in every way, more than we could ever know it, and He can help us!
2) God is faithful – and He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.
        a. You can bear it!  Don’t give up or give in.
3) God will provide a way out!
        a. You need to look for it – find it – Want it!  You need to want to get out!

Practically, how do we face temptation?  What do we do or not do?
1) Know scripture & apply it – Jesus rebuked the devil all three times with scripture
        a. James 1:22 (NIV) – “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.”
Look at how Jesus faced temptation – with scripture in context!
2) Submit yourself to God and His will – choose to allow Christ to be your Lord
        a. James 4:7 (NIV) – “Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
        b. 2 Cor. 10:5 (NIV) – “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
                 - Take every thought captive/obedient to Christ
        c. Rom 12:2 (NIV) – “ Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
                – Don’t conform to the world
               – be transformed by renewing of your mind.
3) Understand that you are a new creation in Christ & that Christ has made you alive
        a. New Creation
                i. 2 Cor. 5:17 (NIV) – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
                ii. Gal. 6:15 (NIV) – “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.”
                iii. Rom. 6:11 (NIV) – “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
4) You have power over sin because of Christ
        a. Rom. 6:6-14 (NIV) – “… sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be salves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin … Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires … but rather offer yourselves to God … as instruments of righteousness.  For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
5) Be Self-Controlled and alert
         a. 1 Pet. 5:8 (NIV) – “Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
         b. Remember who the enemy is and what he wants to do with you – and be alert.
                i. John 8:44 (NIV) – “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire.  He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
6) Resist, fight, be alert, be prepared the devil
        a. James 4:7 (NIV) – “Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
        b. 1 Pet. 5:9 (NIV) – “Resist him [the devil], standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
        c. 1 Tim. 6:12 (NIV) – Fight the good fight of the faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
        d. Ephesians 6:13 (NIV) – “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand  your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” [Keep reading for the full armor – v. 18 says “… be alert…”]
7) Flee from temptation – don’t put yourself in situations where you know you are going to face temptation
        a. 1 Cor. 6:18a (NIV) – “Flee from sexual immorality.”
        b. 1 Cor. 10:14b (NIV) – “… flee from idolatry.”
        c. 1 Tim. 6:9 – 12 (NIV) – “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.  But, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.”
        d. 2 Tim. 2:22 (NIV) – “Flee the evil desires of your youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
8) Pursue pure, holy, good things, eternal things – keep your mind on them (i.e have an eternal perspective to life)
        a. 2 Tim. 2:22 (NIV)
        b. Philippians 4:8 – dwell on good things
                i. (NIV) – “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
                ii. (NASB) – “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (differences underlined)
        c. Colossians 3:1-3 (NIV) – “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ,set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”
        d. 2 Cor. 4:18 (NIV) – “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
9) Watch & pray – Mark 14:38
        a. Mat. 6:13a (NASB) – “And do not lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. …” [Part of the Lord’s prayer]
        b. Luke 22:40 & 46 (NIV) – “Pray that you will not fall into temptation” … ”Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”  [Jesus is talking to the apostles in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his crucifixion.]
        c. Ephesians 6:18 (NIV) – “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.  [Pray for yourself, others and all believers – this is part of the armor of God scriptures]
        d. 1 Thes. 5:16-22 (NIV) – “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt.  Test everything.  Hold on to the good.  Avoid every kind of evil.”
        e. James 5:13 -16 (NIV) – “Is any one of you in trouble?  He should pray … the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

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