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The Test of Temptation

January 22, 2023 Speaker: Jonathan McLeod Series: The Christ

Topic: Temptation Scripture: Luke 4:1–13

Temptation Is a Test

In Luke 4:1-13, Jesus is “tempted by the devil” (v. 2). 

James 1:14 says that “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” We can be tempted to do what is wrong or to not do what is right.

Being tempted is not committing a sin. Giving in to temptation is committing a sin.

The Greek word (peirazo) translated as “tempted” also means “tested.” Temptation is a test. What does temptation test?

Jesus Passed the Test

In verses 3-12, Jesus is tempted three times. But notice that verse 2 says that Jesus was “led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil.” The words “being tempted” probably indicate that Jesus faced more than three temptations during those forty days.” 

Jesus was tempted while in the wilderness. In Scripture, the wilderness is a place of testing. There are many similarities between Jesus and the Israelites in the book of Exodus:

  • Both were in Egypt.
  • Both went through water. The Israelites went through the Red Sea; Jesus went through the waters of baptism.
  • Both were led into the wilderness. The Israelites were in the wilderness of 40 years; Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days.
  • Both were tested in the wilderness.

The big difference between the Israelites in the wilderness and Jesus in the wilderness is that the Israelites failed the test, while Jesus passed the test of temptation.

You might be wondering, “Could Jesus really be tempted?” What we can be sure of is that Jesus felt temptation. And the temptations he experienced were much more powerful than the temptations you and I face. Verse 13 says that the devil “departed from [Jesus] until an opportune time.” In Luke 22, we see that the devil intensifies his efforts to defeat Jesus (22:3, 28, 31, 53). Jesus felt the temptation to abort his mission, to avoid the cross. But he didn’t.

How Did Jesus Do It?

How did Jesus pass the test? And how can we do the same?

First, Jesus valued God’s words more than temptation’s promises. (Three times Jesus quotes Scripture.) Temptation never fully delivers on its promises. 

Second, Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:18 says, “Do not get drunk with wine … but be filled with the Spirit.” To be filled with the Spirit means to be under the influence of the Spirit (like being drunk with wine means to be under the influence of alcohol). 

Third, Jesus trusted in the Father’s wisdom and goodness even when it wasn’t apparent. He was in the wilderness and hungry. Did the Father really care about him? (Think about the Israelites in the wilderness. They complained and wanted to go back to Egypt because they were hungry.) That’s the kind of question Satan wants us to ask. 

Fourth, Jesus believed that the easy path isn’t always the best path. The path that Jesus came to earth to walk was a difficult one, but it was the best one. Taking the easy path will lead to regret.

What Temptation Tests

What does temptation test? Let’s read Deuteronomy 8:2: “And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart.” Temptation tests what’s in our heart. Temptation reveals who we really are. 

We need to resist temptation like Jesus did. Focus on the beauty of obedience, not on the “shall nots.”

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