Pastor's Wife, Mom, Writer & Imperfect Seeker of Jesus
The Snare of Temptation--Part 2
August 7, 2015
On Saturday, we talked about “falling” into temptation through our neglect of being watchful and praying. Today, I want to talk about the other way in which we might find ourselves in a tempting situation, a way that absolutely fascinates me.
It’s when we are actually LEAD by God into that situation.
Remember, God does NOT tempt us (James 1:13), but He DOES allow us to face temptation and even leads us there. Towards the end of the Last Supper, Jesus turned toward Simon Peter and said, “Simon, Simon look out! Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32 HCSB) Do you remember what happened soon after? Peter succumbed to temptation out of fear and embarrassment and denied even knowing Jesus—not once, but three times.
But he DID turn back just as Jesus prayed that he would, and after receiving the Holy Spirit, that same Peter stood before a massive crowd, preaching the best sermon ever preached, and 3000 souls were added to the Kingdom that very day.
Paul tells us that “God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19 HCSB) We most often take that to mean meeting our physical needs. But have you ever considered that since God sees the big picture of your life and has designed a plan for you, that He might just lead you right smack into temptation in order to supply you with what you NEED to fulfill your purpose on this planet?
Perhaps Peter would never have stood with such boldness and addressed the hostile masses had he not failed to stand up for Jesus before a lowly servant girl. And you don’t have to fail when being tempted like Peter did in order to gain what is needed. Look at Jesus. Yes, I know that He was still God while living in human form, but He was also COMPLETELY man.
Right after He was baptized, He was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” (Matthew 4:1 NIV) And what was the very first way that Satan tempted Jesus? With the simple basic need of food. Jesus hadn’t eaten for forty days. He was hungry!! Would it really hurt anything in the big picture of the Kingdom to just take a small pebble and turn it into a bite of bread? He knew though that God was not doing the tempting, Satan was. And anything from Satan is EVIL—no matter how small it may seem. Satan then went on to tempt Jesus with the offer of power on earth as well as tempted Him to test God, insinuating that God might not really love Him like a Father.
Less than three years later, Jesus faced the jeers of the people, the spitting and beating from the soldiers and the feeling of rejection from God as He hung on that cross. How hard that must have been to not fight back! I don’t know if I could have done that. And what a horrible experience to feel rejected and forgotten by God. How did Jesus withstand the temptation to come down from that cross and teach everyone a lesson right there? How did He stay the course and complete the plan? Perhaps God knew that Jesus would need extra strength that day and so by His Spirit sent Him to be tempted years earlier.
What I know about the sifting of wheat (particularly the old-fashioned way) is that it is a violent thrashing of the plant. It involves literally beating it and tearing it apart in order to separate the wheat grain from the stalk and chaff. Sifting rips it open in order to bring out what is valuable and throw away what is worthless.
This is what experiencing temptation can do for us if we allow it to. Just know that it’s not easy nor pleasant, even for Christ. In fact, when Jesus taught His disciples how they should pray, He even included the line, “and lead us not into temptation” (Matthew 6:13 NIV) because it’s so hard. Yet He knew the benefits and finished that prayer with, “but deliver us from the evil one.”
And lastly, don’t forget that “no temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. 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 endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV)
So whether you have caved to temptation in the past or not, look at it differently today. There is a purpose for temptation. It can refine you like fire into a powerful tool for The Lord. It may allow you to relate to others like Jesus---“because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18 NIV) Or it may be that after being sifted by Satan you now return like Peter and strengthen those around you in a way that you never could have before.