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How it Happens

Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point. —C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

The temptation of Jesus was not necessarily an experience that you and I can have. Jesus is/was different from us. That being said, however, we can learn some metaphorical principles from Jesus’ temptation in Luke 4.

Temptation says…

  • “Tell this stone to become bread.” (4:3)
  • “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” (4:5-7)
  • “Throw yourself down from here. For it is written … ” (4:9-10)

Freshly baked bread! What a temptation. After 40 days of fasting, I’d be able to imagine the smell of it baking in the sun. Yet Jesus declines immediate gratification. How? Jesus knows that saying yes to temptation is saying no to God’s best for you.

When offered the kingdoms of the world, Jesus declines with a second “no.” Jesus knows temptation almost always links sinful activity to an imagined reward, something it can’t deliver.

Finally, Jesus resists the temptation to build an immediate platform and launch his career with a BANG. What’s really fascinating is Satan takes Jesus’ response—“For it is written … ”—and uses it to quote God’s words out of context.

These are temptations three tools of separation. While Satan is a formidable foe, Jesus overcame.

That’s good news for us! If Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and if Jesus lives through us, then His life in us today will look like His life among us then.

We can overcome too.

Jesus, on my own I am not strong enough to turn down immediate gratification or rewards. Some of them are so enticing. Some of them I’ve been hoping for my entire life. But Your Spirit is strong, and together we desire God’s best. Amen.

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