Today I have decided to do a study on what the word "tempted" or "temptation" really means in the Bible. Over and over I have read the passages where Jesus was tempted by Satan and yet, as I gathered from it, Jesus just blew him off. So I wondered why so many today talk about the temptation and struggles they face and compare it to how Jesus was tempted. "Oh, it is so hard for me to say no to stealing or pornography" they say for example, and they justify it by saying that Jesus had a hard time with those things as well. But does the Bible say that Jesus ALMOST gave in to those temptations? "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." - Hebrew 4:15.
As far as the logic that we are justified in our ALMOST giving in to temptation because Jesus did the same... well..I'm afraid I would have to disagree. Yes, Jesus had a temptation or a "test" brought to him by Satan. And according to the Bible was brought a test in all ways that we still are today. The difference I find, however, is that Jesus had no desire for sinful things that Satan was tempting him with. Notice I said sinful things. Not something like food in his stomach after fasting. He definitely had a desire for that, but Jesus was perfect in all ways. He didn't desire SINFUL things. Therefore, it made it extremely easy for Jesus to resist. The Bible says in James 1:14 that "We are tempted when we are drawn away by our own desires and enticed."
At the time in the Bible when Satan tempted Jesus, Jesus was extremely hungry. It says : "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. " - Matthew 4:1-4. You see, here Jesus knew that there was more to help him out of this test than just bread. Although his physical state told him that his body was hungry, his mind ruled over his flesh and he was able to have enough will power to not give in to temptation.
Temptation by its very nature is deception, a lie. What is evil is deceitfully presented as good, what is harmful as helpful, what is poison as antidote, what is enslaving as liberating, what is foul as fun. Temptation is what a trap is to an animal. It offers something good, but its true intent is to trap and kill. To be tempted is one thing, to sin is another. Jesus was tempted but did not sin. We cannot avoid temptation. When we are striving to live a life after Christ, there will constantly be tests presented to us and their very purpose is to take our hearts farther and farther from the heart of God. We can't escape it, but when it comes, we are to resist it, that is, say "no" to it. We are to "resist him [the devil] FIRM in our faith" -(1 Peter 5:10) and "Resist the devil and he will flee from you." (James 4:8).
If it is easy to resist the temptation of things that we do not desire, that should be a sign to us. It should be a sign that perhaps we are walking too closely to the line of things that we should not want. I will give you an example. I hate the taste of alcohol. I would rather have a Dr.Pepper or a Vanilla Coke any day of the week. Alcohol tastes, well... just like what it is, ... like I am drinking straight rubbing alcohol from a bottle. Because I do not desire it in any way shape or form, it is not a temptation that I am going to struggle with. Sure, it can still be a test for me to get drunk on alcohol. It can be because of peer pressure, for social status, or a number of other reasons. But because it does not appeal to me, I will not struggle with that test, I will pass with flying colors! :) If we would be strong Christians, and would not let evil things appeal to us, perhaps we wouldn't "struggle" as hard. Instead of taking responsibility for our actions and trying harder to not let the things of the world appeal to us, we blame our struggles on the "temptation" that we are SUPPOSED TO FACE. This doesn't make sense to me. Yes, withstanding trials makes us stronger, but I have heard a good Christian man say before that "if I didnt struggle with lusting after other women, then I could never prove to my wife how much I love her." What a distorted view of the word Love.
In Genesis 39:7-10 it says: "And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. But he refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her."
This was a test for Joseph. But because he had no desire to sin against her husband or against God, he passed the test with flying colors. Even when she continued to try and get his attention, Joseph did not desire to give in to temptation. Isn't this as Christians how we are supposed to be? Yet I hear so many people who have made a vow to their spouse say - "it is just so hard for me not to lust after her", or "but he just turns me on more than my husband... its so hard." Why is there a desire in our hearts for anything other than our spouse?? You might say there is not a desire there, but if it weren't there... you would not struggle with the test. Get rid of the desire and I have a feeling that the temptation will not be as hard to resist. I believe that if we set our hearts on things above, and do not desire worldly temptations such as jealousy, envy, anger, lust, sex outside of marriage, slander, pride, bragging, laziness, gluttony, rebelliousness, theft, stealing, cheating, lying, coveting, discontent, idolatry, drunkenness, drug use, etc., ... then the temptations placed in front of us will be merely that, temptation; TESTS. So often we have confused the word temptation to mean something that we struggle with and almost give in to, instead of what it is; a test of deception. If we recognize it for what it is, it should be much easier to resist because we will want to please God with our whole hearts, and also stay committed to our spouses, our family, and our Church.
Galatians 6:1-2 says : "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted." This scripture tells me that we are to WATCH OURSELVES so that we are not tempted. Why so many times do we put ourselves in situations to be tempted and then when we struggle, feel justified in saying - "but Jesus was tempted like me."?? As Paul would say "Heaven forbid!". We should never use the tests of Jesus to justify our own fleshly desires. In conclusion, when we are tempted, I think it is important to take control of the thought. Once we recognize the temptation, we should take control of the thought by not allowing our minds to dwell on it or construct fantasies around it. Since our minds can generate evil thoughts in response to a temptation in less than a second, our thought-control actions need to be immediate.
Treat the temptation as an enemy and give it no mercy. Take it for what it is, a scheme from Satan to draw your heart away from God. Correct the lies with the truth: The truth of God’s word destroys the power of temptations and the lies behind them. We can take the same truth that helped us recognize the temptation and apply it as the correction to the tempting thoughts. This is one of the ways of using the Sword of the Spirit and is how Jesus defeated the devil in the wilderness temptations. The dangers of not taking control of evil thoughts are that sin will be conceived and that our evil desires will take control of our thoughts. Redirect your thoughts. Redirecting our thoughts to pure topics helps ensure that we keep moving past the temptation and minimize the possibility of letting it back into our minds. The Bible gives us a variety of things we can shift our thoughts to: things above, Jesus, the love of God, our families, our spouses, and the people who would be disappointed in us if we were led astray.