By Ray Luck
Pastor, Oak Grove Baptist Church, Athens
Temptation is a word that often causes us to shiver because of the connotation attached to it. John McArthur in his New Testament Commentary on I Corinthians says this about the word “temptation” found in I Corinthians 10:13. The basic meaning in Greek is simply to test or prove, and has no negative connotation. Whether it becomes a proof of righteousness or an inducement to evil depends on our response. If we resist it in God’s power, it is a test that proves our faithfulness. If we do not resist, it becomes a solicitation to sin. The Bible uses the term in both ways, and I believe that Paul has both meanings in mind here.” I Corinthians 10:13 is an interesting passage that is often sorely abused and misquoted. Many times the emphasis is wrongly placed, “…but God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able… .” Most people have come to think that we are able to withstand any temptation knowing that God knows our limits and He will step in when things get to be too much for us to handle and will bail us out. But what that phrase means is that as Christians we are to constantly seek God through prayer, trust God in all things, and keep our eyes on Jesus. What this does is take the focus off us and puts it where it should be — on Jesus. When that is the case in our lives then we will discover that we can endure far more than we ever thought we could because our focus is in the right place, on Jesus.
When Jesus went into the wilderness note how Matthew 4:1 reads, “Then Jesus being led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” This was no idle experience. Jesus did not get up one day and decide that it was time to go into the wilderness with nothing for 40 days and 40 nights. Having seen the Negav in Israel my thought is that it is not the place I would choose to spend 40 days and nights. The verse begins by saying that Jesus was led by the Spirit and that God allowed Him to be put in a very vulnerable position in order that He might be tempted (tested). I John 2:15-17 talks about the three major categories of sin (the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life). When Satan came to Jesus he threw it all at Him. Satan said turn these stones to bread and satisfy your hunger, Jesus countered with Deuteronomy 8:3. Satan said throw yourself down and God will protect you, Jesus countered with Deuteronomy 6:16. Satan said bow down and worship me and I will give You all the kingdoms of the world, Jesus countered with Deuteronomy 6:13.
With each temptation Jesus was victorious, not just because He was God’s Son, but because He knew the Word of God and He loved and trusted His heavenly father. Satan’s challenge to Jesus was real, but He passed through because He trusted God to do what God promised. We are not Jesus, but we do face temptation, but like Jesus we can pass the test by focusing on Him in all things, for He cares for us.