Day 36: Facing Temptation: Part 3
THE WORLD AT HAND
What a wonder it must have been to see all the kingdoms of the world in an instant. This temptation was more than a simple bribe; effectively, Satan was telling Jesus that he could avoid the cross altogether. To our surprise, according to scripture, this was his to offer: Satan was offering him the world, all Jesus had to do was bow down to him. This was not an offer that our enemy made without merit. Scripture details how Satan has power and dominion over the Earth:
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. -2 Corinthians 4:4 (NIV)
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-. -Ephesians 2:1-2 (NIV)
Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. -John 12:31 (ESV)
God has temporarily allowed Satan to maintain a tight grip on this world. God is still sovereign and in control, and has put a leash on the enemy, giving him limited power and influence here on earth. By relinquishing this power over to Jesus, he was effectively saying, “Why go through all the suffering to gain this world? I can just offer it to you right now if you will momentarily bow down to me.” Jesus was tempted with the very thing that he was destined to have in God's plan - the rule over the nations. Matthew 28:18 says that all authority on Heaven and on Earth has now been given to Jesus.
There were many times where all I wanted was that momentary satisfaction of giving into sexual desire. The enemy, with the gentlest whisper, offered me “the world” for simply disobeying God and His word. Like all things the devil offers, it was an empty promise, void of value. Time and time I fell for this trick. Notice that Christ didn’t even address the devil's offer. He jumped right to the part where he wanted him to worship someone other than God. Satan’s offer of the world wasn’t in and of itself a terrible thing. It was the method required of Christ to accept that offer that caused issue. In the same way, our desire for sexual satisfaction is a beautiful, God given desire. Sex was created by God to be enjoyed by His children. The means in which the enemy tries to lead us into that satisfaction are the problem.
Imagine this: You’re tempted to give into sexual desire after a long and stressful day. The enemy whispers something to the effect of “Just look at that image, it’s not hurting anybody. It will relieve a lot of stress from you right now.” What should your biblical response to this be? My response is one (or all) of the following:
It is written “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.” -Job 31:1 (NIV)
It is written “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” -1 Corinthians 6:18 (NIV)
In conclusion, we’ve seen how Christ handled temptation in the desert. In all three instances he used the word of God to counter-attack the enemy. This is the key, friend, we cannot hope to defeat Satan and his lies without the Word of God in our arsenal. Our “sword” so-to-speak must be sharp and ready to be drawn at all times.
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. -1 Peter 1:13 (ESV)
How Jesus was tempted here relates surprisingly well to how Adam and Eve were tempted. They were tempted with things that were ultimately destined for them: to become more like God, and to rule the nations. The difference lies in their response, and in who they place their trust.
This is very similar to how we are tempted with sexual content. We were created, by God, to experience healthy sexuality, but we are tempted by an offer that promises similar results without the work of an intimate marital relationship. Yes, this is about momentary satisfaction, but it is also about the refusal to see things to fruition in God's timing - we'd rather feel we have some amount of control, and so turn to the enemy.
The next time you are tempted by the enemy, cast him away, as Jesus did in the verse presented at the beginning of the lesson. Cast him away with the authority that you are being offered something empty and void of any satisfaction. You have seen it in your own life as a temptation promised so much but only left you feeling guilty. There is a time to run and a time to stand. In those moments that you stand face-to-face with temptation, cast away the enemy by the authority of Christ.
Day 36 Application
How does the final temptation of Jesus in the desert compare to temptations we face in our own life?
But how did Christ respond to Satan's attack?
What scriptures in particular have been meaningful to you? What have been some challenging aspects for you with having accountability?
Since the last lesson, how have you been with maintaining your sexual purity?