tempting.

The server comes by the table and drops the line, “Can I tempt you with a dessert menu?”

Well, that depends. If there’s something along the lines of Mind-Blowing-Chocolatey-Chocolate-Death-by-Chocolate-with-Extra-Chocolate … then yes. If the menu is conspicuously missing chocolate, then no. There’s a special place in heaven for the person who created chocolate, only slightly smaller than the place reserved for the first person who looked on a coffee bean and had the divine epiphany to roast & drink it.

Temptation is like a chemical reaction in our hearts. When an opportunity outside us connects with a desire that’s already inside us, volcanic temptation tremors begin in our hearts like a grade 8 science project.  We gravitate to the idea that we give into temptation because of something outside us, because that puts us in a more favourable light, but that isn’t what the Scriptures teach us about why we are tempted. As it turns out, our problem is inside us.  [1] That’s bad news.

Here’s the good news …

The Father planned your freedom from being slaves to temptation.
The Spirit strengthens you to overcome temptation.
Christ’s grace covers you when you give in to temptation …
because He overcame temptation perfectly for you.

What did Christ do to accomplish that and why does it matter? Consider this …
After Israel’s baptism at the Red Sea, they were led into the wilderness and gave into temptation and sin.
After Christ’s baptism at the Jordan river, He was led into the wilderness and overcame temptation and sin. [2]

The entire life of Christ was about perfect obedience on our behalf. God accepts perfection not progress – the temptation of Christ is a Satanic attack on Christ’s perfection in order to abolish the redemption & restoration God intended for you.

God made perfect demands of us because He’s Holy.
He met those demands for us because He’s gracious.

The temptation of Christ is grace on display. It was the Spirit who led Jesus to be tempted. Why? Jesus wouldn’t have been tempted otherwise. We have a civil war raging inside us between our sin nature and our new nature. [3] Christ had no civil war raging inside Him.

The Spirit led Christ into temptation so that we could be led out of temptation.

When Jesus teaches us to pray, He specifically says we are to pray, “lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.” [4] He was already led in – for you. He overcame temptation perfectly in His wilderness because we don’t overcome temptation perfectly in ours.  The Hebrew writer states that Christ understands our weakness and He was temped as we are, but without sin. [5] How is that possible?

The Son was tempted to withdraw His trust in the Father’s hand & take things into His own hands. So are we. Sin is unoriginal. Though we all struggle with different temptations, they all lead the same place …

God is not providing for you: you must trust in yourself.
God is not there for you: you must prove and create identity for yourself.
God will not fulfill you: worship something else and find fulfillment for yourself.

Each day presents opportunities to live autonomously from God and love ourselves most. This misplaced self-love leads to sin against our neighbours and ultimately God. There is hope in the gospel for this.

Paul’s instructions to the uber-sinful Corinthian church plainly stated that God would not allow them to be tempted beyond what they could bear. He always provides a way out. [6] Those are bold words to say to a church who’s sin is so bad it’s making the Gentiles blush. 

All believers give into temptation and sin. For that, there is grace.

Paul’s words to the Corinthians (and to us) is not an invitation to roll our sleeves up and overcome temptation by applying more will power. This is an invitation to acknowledge our utter weakness so that in doing so, God leads us out of temptation by His power. [7] 

The confession of our sin extinguishes our need to judge others and compare our sin. God’s grace, in a word, is amazing. He comes in our weakness to both lead us out of temptation and cover us when we fall headlong into it. [8]

Press on,

Paul

LISTEN TO THIS MESSAGE IN IT’s FULL CONTEXT HERE.

[1] James 1:13-15 We are temped because of our own desires, which lead to sin & ultimately death
[2] I Cor 10:2 – Paul refers to the Red Sea crossing as baptism for Israel: from certain death to life by grace alone.
[3] Galatians 5, Romans 7
[4] Matthew 6
[5] Hebrews 4:15
[6] I Corinthians 10:13
[7] Titus 2, II Corinthians 12:8-10
[8] Titus 2, I John 1:9

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