How could he do what no other human being has ever done?
Where did he get this power?
How did he find the strength to overcome when all the rest of us have failed at some point along the way?
How did Jesus resist temptation and not give in to it and sin? How did he "do right" and "rule over" this power and not succumb to it?
Then the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it." (Genesis 4:6-7 TNIV)
Jesus was God come in human flesh (John 1:1-18). He was tempted just like we are and yet he did not give in to that temptation and sin (Hebrews 2:15).
But how did he do that? All of the rest of us who have faced temptation have come up short. How did Jesus have the strength to resist ... again and again and again? What strategies or tools did he use to overcome the schemes of the evil one?
Over the years, many have looked at the temptation story — found in the fourth chapter of both Matthew and Luke — and have pointed to Jesus' quotation of Scripture to correct, confront, and defeat Satan. Knowing Scripture was crucial for Jesus, as he remained faithful under these severe times of temptation and trial — notice Jesus quotes the Bible for each temptation thrown at him. If we pay attention to Jesus as he speaks, he obviously knew the Scriptures and used them in teaching, preaching, life, relationships, and ... temptation.
Knowing and applying Scripture in times of temptation is a powerful deterrent to sinning, stumbling, and failing. But surely there is something more than correctly knowing Scripture to help us? And if we go back to those stories of Jesus' temptation, I believe we will see at least one other thing that is crucial to Jesus' success in defeating Satan — to ruling over this monster that seems to be crouching at each of our doors.
More than knowing Scripture, Jesus knew the Father, his Father, who is behind the Scriptures! Jesus loved his Father with all of his heart, soul, mind, and strength. He repeatedly talked about his relationship with God as Father. He even shared this relationship with his closest followers.
As Jesus faced his temptations, notice how the connection between Jesus and his Father plays a huge role in overcoming Satan's attacks. In the event recorded immediately before the temptation — in both Luke and Matthew — Jesus is baptized and God says, "You are my Son whom I love ..." Notice the first words out of Satan's mouth in the temptation, "If you are the Son of God ..." The evil one's goal was to chip away at the integrity of that relationship. Yet because Jesus kept his relationship with the Father vibrantly alive, he didn't have to question the Father's love and appreciation of him and his claim of connection to him.
Jesus entered his time of temptation prepared. He had heard the words of affirmation from his Father. He made his relationship with the Father his consuming passion. Prayer fed this passion. Prayer was also the place where Jesus surrendered his will over to the Father — remember the Lord's words in his Gethsemane prayer as he faced the Cross, "Father, not what I want, but your will be done."
We are looking for something far more than a religious formula to help us victoriously deal with times of temptation and trial. We're seeking a relationship with God as our Father, our Abba Father, and using the strength of that relationship — our sense of identity, purpose, being loved, and much more — to face down the evil one.
Jesus taught this. Jesus lived this. Jesus demonstrated this. This is part of "The Jesus Vibe"!
In the face of temptation, what does it mean to "love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind"?
How are you doing in your battle with temptation and sin?
What are some of your strategies to facing down the evil one and winning the war with the sin that is "crouching at the door"?
I'd love to hear from you on my blog so others can focus on ways to win the war in their own lives: