The whole subtitle for this blog series is a rip off. A blatant rip off at that. There is nothing that is original, right?
As a kid there were few T.V. shows that I was allowed to watch (i.e. Friends, King of the Hill, Simpsons, shows of that ilk – oddly, all FOX shows). I understand why my parents gave T.V. viewing boundaries, there was great wisdom in their actions. As an adult, however, I enjoy going back to watch some of these shows.
You can see that my subtitle idea is stolen. But, thanks FRIENDS for the great way to subtitle my blogs!
Back to the Jesus stuff!
The final temptation laid before Jesus regarded ultimate dominion. The long and the short of it was an offer, from the devil, to be in ultimate and final possession of all the Kings and Kingdoms of the earth. The only cost was acknowledging the tempter as only one to be worshiped.
The progression of temptations has gone from small (turn rocks into bread) to huge (worship me). The growing tension of the narrative leads to an outburst from Jesus. The first two responses from Jesus elicited a simple quotation of Scripture to thwart the tempters attack. The third response is violent, rash, and in my head a very exhausted Jesus (He has had zero food for 40 days) comes to his wit’s end with the devil.
BE GONE, SATAN!
What is interesting to me regarding the third temptation, is how it relates to the other two temptations. One thing we must all acknowledge at this point is that everything, and I mean EVERYTHING is tied together. Everything relates to everything. Once you accept the butterfly effect: 2 minutes late to work being difference between a car accident and a promotion at work – the sooner you begin to see how wonderfully gracious God is toward everyone and everything. Yes, bad things happen. I have theory and theology for that, but the main point here is that all things which happens to us and through us dramatically affects everything in the world. Small pebble; big pond.
Process of Temptations
- The first temptation questioned Jesus’ miraculous ability (Prove to yourself you are God)
- The second temptation questioned Jesus’ divine authority (Prove to the crowd you are God)
- The third temptation questioned Jesus’ ultimate destiny (Prove to God you are God)
What does Jesus lose by giving into each of these temptations? They’re not a big deal right? In my head the first one makes sense, the second one sounds a lot like bungee jumping, and the final temptation looks more or less like another way to achieve Plan B.
The reality of the whole scenario is that Jesus, being God and man, was being tempted in every way you and I are tempted.
- Who do we rely on? (Ourselves for sustenance, or God for sustenance?)
- Who are you? (What’s your ultimate purpose?)
- Who is God? (Is it you or God?)
We each face these temptations daily. The sooner I realize that I succumb to these temptations, and understand I cannot overcome them on my own, the sooner Jesus is available to overcome them with me.
How Do You Respond to Temptation?
I have never fully pondered this story. In fact, I feel as if I need more time to dwell on what it means to be tempted and to ask God to protect me from the evil one. As temptations swirl around me I have a few responses available to me.
- Fight – I can attempt to defeat them in my own power
- Flight – I can attempt to run away from my temptations
- Faith – I can turn, intentionally, toward Jesus
I have defeated some temptations in my own power, for a short time. I have run away from my temptations, for a short time. Both 1. Fight, and 2. Flight, are temporarily advantageous. It is 3. Faith, however, that provides long-lasting power to daily defeat temptation.
Steps to Victory
I think having a battle plan is helpful when it comes to fighting temptation in our life. It’s not enough to say, “I”m going to lose 30 pounds this month!” I need a plan, a strategy to lose that weight. I need a coach, I need good eating habits, I need education about my body, I need daily exercise. I have a lot of needs to accomplish the goal of lost weight. The same needs to be said about temptation.
So try these steps.
- Identify the attack of the tempter.
- What is the temptation
- Where are the weak spots
- Find a trusted friend
- Be honest – Confession is hard, but valuable when it comes to overcoming temptation.
- You be accountable – It’s your responsibility, not theirs. Take ownership to check in.
- Know your Scripture
- All three times Jesus countered the devil He used Scripture. You should too.
- Google – Bible (issue) – So if it is an anger issue, or a patience issue, or a sexual issue – Google – Bible Anger/Patience/Sex
- Jesus has endured temptation, he is on your side and prays with and for you! (Hebrews 7:25)
- Paul encourages continual prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:16)
This isn’t fool-proof. We are humans, and we humans fail… A LOT. Having a strategy will help you to overcome when faced with temptation.
I’m looking forward to thinking about this more. Temptation is real. Even if you’re atheist, you can acknowledge that there are forces at work to tempt us to being lesser people. If you’d like to have a conversation about this, or any other blog, please feel free to reach to me about it.
If Jesus did it, we should do it. If Jesus said it, we should believe it. If Jesus commanded it, we should obey it.
Not blindly like a dumb sheep, but boldly like a dumb sheep with a Good Shepherd.
Have questions or comments please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
I’d love to share a conversation with you about anything. I’ve got lots of room in my heart for lots of friends.