I recently finished a writing project project for our church — a Lenten Devotional. It was a team effort, soliciting entries from five individuals, writing, editing, and assembling the devotional. Throughout Lent, I will be posting a few of those entries. This one focuses ON CHRIST’S TEMPTATION.
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The apostle Paul could say with confidence, “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Everyone, believers and non-believers alike, agree: No one is perfect; everybody falls short. We all surrender to temptation. Which makes the account of Christ’s temptation all the more mysterious and wonderful. H.C. G. Moule writes:
There is no more mysterious scene in the whole story of the Gospels than the temptation in the wilderness. That dark enigma, the existence and the awful power of a personal Lord of Evil, recognized everywhere as a fact in the New Testament, appears here in all its darkness. And, darkness is indeed a living midnight, when we see it face to face with the sinless Son of God and Man. Who shall fathom the depth of the secret reasons which constrained the Lord, under the immediate power and guidance of the Holy Spirit poured on Him without measure, to submit Himself to the personal, positive, and profoundly subtle assaults of the Evil Spirit, alone and in the waste?
All that we can know is that the dreadful encounter was a vital factor in His incarnate experience, and that the endurance of it, and then the victorious sequel, like all that He did and suffered, were of infinite import for our blessing.
This at least we know, that the Lord Jesus Christ is now, in the power of that strife and of that victory, able to enter into the very depth of every moral struggle of His disciples, and ‘able to succor also them that are tempted,’ with the sympathetic power of an almighty but all-sensitive Fellow-Sufferer.
Oscar Wilde once quipped, “I can resist anything except temptation!” and “The best way to deal with temptation is to yield to it!” His insights are painfully true. As C.S. Lewis noted in his classic Mere Christianity, “No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.” Likewise, none of us can truly realize the power of sin until we resist its temptation. Which is why Jesus is the only Man who really understands the power of sin. He was “tempted in every way, just as we are,” yet remained sinless. Because of this, we can take comfort: that Christ understands us in the deepest, most possible way.
Lent is a reminder of the awful, but glorious, path He trod. Whereas the first Man fell in a lush Garden, the Second Man conquered in a wasteland. Whereas Adam and Eve heeded the Serpent and succumbed to temptation, Christ resisted the Devil. For this reason, we “do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses.” Rather, as Victor over sin, Jesus intimately knows our spiritual frailty… and loves us all the same.
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Thank You, Jesus, for facing my Adversary; for not quelling at his onslaught, for not entertaining his lies, for not yielding to his seductions. I am weak and have given in far too many times to temptation. But You, Lord—You are without sin! And to You I cling, and desire to remain, resolutely, to the end.
You can download a PDF version of the entire Lenten Devotional HERE.