Tale of Two Temptations

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12)

The Bible is very clear. We all wrestle. Whether we believe it or not, or want to or not – we are told that each of us wrestles against the armies of darkness. There is much to say about this subject and how to be a better wrestler, but for now, I would like us to contrast two examples of how to handle the temptations of our mortal enemy. Which “technique” you employ will ultimately determine how successful you become as a wrestler.

Eve. The mother of us all, the very first woman – was perfect in every way. I am sure she was one of God’s greatest masterpieces. She didn’t, however, know much about wrestling. When she was tempted in the Garden of Eden, the enemy cleverly and diabolically twisted God’s command to her and her husband, and used every means at his disposal to get her to question God’s goodness and plan for the young couple. The first six verses of Genesis, chapter 3 tell the sad tale.

Satan began to plant doubt in her mind and made her question God’s authority, His words and His goodness. He convinced her that God didn’t really didn’t mean what He said, and that He must be holding out on them. Then you can almost feel her pondering and evaluating as it says, she “saw the fruit was good and pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for wisdom”. She was mulling over what the serpent had said and weighing her options. Next, she reached an agreement in her mind that this guy must be right. Then, she decided to choose against God and turn her back on Him. She decided that she knew best what was best for her, and for her husband. She was then thrown to the mat and  pinned.  One, two, three – match over.

Now, compare that situation to another we find in Luke 4:1-13. This time, Jesus has been led out into the wilderness to be tempted. He has been fasting for forty days and very vulnerable and weak. Then, in typical fashion, Satan comes to offer a convenient and “easy” way out. Let’s see how he handles it:

Jesus had been tempted by the devil himself for 40 days. At the end of this time he was obviously tired, thirsty, hungry and vulnerable. Satan came to him at his weakest point – hunger. He was starving. Have you ever tried fasting for three days? A week? Longer? It is excruciating. And here he is after forty days, and Satan comes along and says “all you have to do is…..”. What did Jesus do? How did he respond?

KEY POINT – You don’t see any evidence that Jesus gave any thought to what Satan was offering. Unlike Eve, Jesus didn’t stop to ponder the “what if’s” of the proposition. He didn’t even give it the time of day. He immediately and forcefully quoted God’s word and rebuffed the temptation. One Point for Jesus.

With each of the next two temptations, Jesus’ response was again the same. Nothing pondered. Nothing considered, weighed or calculated. Nothing agreed to. He immediately rebuked the thoughts with God’s appropriate word, and the round was over. Points #2, #3 and MATCH. Jesus wins!

Satan gives up and leaves – for the time being. He will be back. There will be more matches.

Eve tried to overcome the temptation using her own logic, reasoning and willpower – no can do. Satan has the advantage every single time.

Jesus overcame quickly and completely by responding verbally with God’s word and authority. He showed us how we can do the same when it happens to us.

James 4:7

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Jesus was submitted to God. He resisted (instead of pondered) immediately using God’s word – and Satan fled from him. He tells us to do the same. Be sure and notice the promise that accompanies this action – he WILL flee from you. Not “he might” flee, or “will eventually” flee – he WILL flee.

Match Over !

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