Thursday, January 5, 2012


Despite God’s provision of everything needful in the Garden of Eden, the tempter found easy prey in Adam and Eve. Eve saw that the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil--the one thing they were not permitted to eat—“was good for food, and…a delight to the eyes…and desirable to make one wise.” The serpent claimed that partaking of the fruit would cause her to be like God, knowing good and evil. In Adam and Eve the tempter found easy takers, and the rest—as they say—is history.

From that time until now, with one exception, there has never been a person who never failed to succumb to the tempter’s power. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life run deep in the hearts of the sons of Adam. The most powerful political rulers and military leaders have been easily and repeatedly defeated by the tempter. Indeed, “through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners” (Romans 5:19). Having the power of death, the devil has kept all of mankind captive in sin (Hebrews 2:14-15).

The temptations Jesus faced were like Eve’s in several ways—the devil tempted both to distrust God and His Word. He also appealed, in both cases, to the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life” (1 John 2:16). But they were unlike in another—the tempter used everything in his arsenal in his attack against Jesus. Forty days hungry the devil tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread. He took him to the pinnacle of the temple and tempted him to prove His identity in testing God. He then took Jesus to a very high mountain and offered Him the kingdoms of the world.

In every case Jesus responded by lovingly submitting Himself to the Father’s will in firm allegiance to the Word of God. How much more then do we need to rely upon the sword of the Spirit in this fight of faith: “I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one” (1 John 2:13). But our warring against the devil would be a hopeless endeavor were it not for the ultimate victory won by our Savior. His temptations did not end there in the wilderness. Peter mistakenly urged Jesus to avoid the cross and gained a sharp rebuke: “Get behind Me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:23). Submission to the Father’s will won the day when Jesus cried out: “My Father, if it is possible, let his cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39). In His death on the cross Jesus overcame: “When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him” (Colossians 2:15).

It is more than Jesus’ good example that we need if we are to succeed. Forgiveness of sin and Christ’s transforming power are possessed only by those who are possessed by Christ. Those who trust in Him for salvation are identified with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection. They are crucified with Christ and made alive together with Him (Galatians 2:20; Romans 6:3-4). They are set free from sin (Romans 6:7). In Christ alone are these things true.

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16). “Greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

Adam sinned, all was lost; Jesus came, and no matter the cost; said no to sin, did the Father’s will, ‘til the cross He did climb, upon that hill, the war was won, the captives freed, and now when the Devil comes to you and me; a new power we find, not in ourselves, but in He who is greater—“He was tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”

Pastor Jerry

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