Sunday, July 29, 2012

Provisions for Christian Victory over temptation

Matthew 4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

Introduction: Christ was also tempted
Yesterday we noted some thoughts on how it is that Christians can have victory over temptation.  In the Bible, Christ's temptation in the wilderness stands as the epicenter on all scriptures dealing with the subject of temptation.  Christ's earthly ministry was characterized as being under constant barrage of various trials and temptations. (Luke 22:28)  Thankfully Christ never gave into such temptations despite being tempted at all points like we are. (Hebrews 4:15).

So why was Christ tempted?  What does His temptation have to do with Christian living? In today's blog, I want to list for you five provisions Christ gained for every believer as a result of His defeat of satan in temptations such as He endured in Matthew 4:1-11.  We will then close with two verses that explain why Christ had to undergo temptation.

5 provisions for victory over temptation gained by Christ for every Christian as taken from Matthew 4:1-11 and other verses:

1. God’s Holy Spirit.  Mt 4:1; Lk 4:1; Gal 5:16
The Holy Spirit was the One who led Christ into the wilderness.  It was a place full of wild beasts. (Mark 1:12-13)  The Holy Spirit's leading of Christ into the wilderness was for the purpose of victory, not failure.  Every child of God who is led by the Holy Spirit will be able to overcome whatever temptation may come.  At every point in our own humanity, we have to make a choice whether we will be self-led or Spirit-led.  Thankfully, Christ at every point in His humanity chose to be led by the Holy Spirit.

2. God’s Word. Mt 4:4; Ps 119:11
The counsel of the scriptures cannot be over estimated.  Whenever I as a Christian choose to subject myself to the word of God, I am indicating that I am also choosing to be led by the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18; Colossians 3:16)  As much as Jesus Christ was God in human flesh, He nonetheless chose to forego accessing His Divine attributes in preference to drawing from the scriptures. 

3. God’s character. Mt 4:5-6; 1 Cor 10:13
In every temptation, God's character is posed as a question in the believer's mind.  If we conclude that God is not trustworthy, we will fail.  However if we conclude that God is trustworthy, then we will prevail.  This is what Christ did consistently in His rejection of Satan's words.  The Character of God, standing as the backdrop of revealed scripture, guided Christ in His humanity, since in His Deity he shared in such character.  As fully God, He could not sin and as sinless man he would not sin.
4. God’s Glory. Mt 4:7-10; Ps 121:1-12
Though in the stark Judean Wilderness in Matthew 4;1-11, the glory of God functioned for Jesus like a morning dawn on the horizon of His life.  He never lost hope, He never let discouragement get the best of Him.  God's glory far outshown the glories of the kingdoms shown to him by the Devil.  Anyone who has ever seen a sunset or sunrise over a city skyline knows that the city lights pale in comparison to the light-show God can put on display. 
5. God’s Angelic Hosts. Mt 4:11; Heb 1:14; Acts 27:23,24
The Bible tells us that after Satan left, angels came to minister to Him.  Angels are ministering spirits who to this day minister to God's people. (Hebrews 1:14)  Our invisible Angelic friends were made possible through what Christ accomplished.  They are servants of the most high God.  We know Peter had such assistance (Acts 12:7-10) and Paul had such assistance (Acts 27:23,24).  Furthermore we as Christians today, in ways we cannot even begin to understand, have angels dispatched by the authority of Christ to protect every believer. (Hebrews 1:14, 13:2)

Why Christ had to undergo temptations for every believer: empathy with believers and enablement of believers
Whatever Christ experienced in the course of His humanity during the days of His time here on earth, we as believer's have access to the provisions he won for us.  Hebrews 2:18 states - "For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted."  That verse tells us that Christ can enable every Christian, who so avail themselves of Christ provision, to overcome temptation.  Then Hebrews 4:15 explains even more: "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin."  Thankfully our High Priest understands what we are undergoing.  Just to know that He knows means that there is no better One to flee to in times of trouble than Jesus Christ. 

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