“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”
Why does God allow us to be delivered into difficult situations that threaten our faith? It seems that God would insulate us from all the evils and temptations so we could be the people He wants us to be. Many dream of being so spiritual that spiritual challenges would disappear.
As Jesus models godly living, we see His life included conflict with temptation and evil. Today’s scripture records one of the most dramatic conflicts in His life. The timing of this conflict is immediately after His baptism when the Holy Spirit descends on Jesus and a voice from Heaven says, “This is my son in whom I am pleased.” However, this powerful positive experience is immediately followed by the Holy Spirit leading Jesus into the wilderness for the purpose of being tempted of the devil.
The word “tempted” is the Greek verb “pierazo” can mean “tempt,” but also “test.” While the Spirit does not test or tempt anyone, it can be noted that the Spirit can lead us to an opportunity of a test that will show who we are.
Like school, tests provide impetus to study and prepare. Because tests were regularly administered, we pushed ourselves to master the subject. Ultimately, we were ready to graduate and meet life because we passed the tests. Ultimately, the tests were part of maturing in life. The same is true in our spiritual life.
Jesus’ came from the devil. He is described as the “Adversary.” He is the enemy of God. His desire is to destroy our God-given purpose. If Jesus had not passed the tests, He would not have been an appropriate sacrifice for the sins of Man.
For us, we should see times of being tempted or tested as moral conflicts between good and evil. Every person that lives for God will be attacked by the devil. While the devil intends to destroy, God intends to be with us. He will not allow us to be tempted above that which we can bear but will always give us a way out. That way out will be an act of submission and surrender to the Lord. His word will guide our response and our discipline to honor the Lord in every moment of life will make our choices decisive and simple.
In response to the devil’s testing, Jesus committed to take no shortcuts to make life easier. His unfailing desire was to submit and obey the Heavenly Father. Later when all are encouraging Jesus to avoid the cross, the same resolve learned in the wilderness continues to carry Him through.
If you face a test, don’t feel defeated. This is your chance to show who you are. Stand firm in your faith. Remember what the scriptures say about your temptation. Obey what they say and walk faithfully in the way the Spirit leads. When you complete this chapter, you will be better for it. Further, you can encourage someone else coming behind you. Your lessons learned will light their way as they struggle to keep the faith just as all successful followers have done since time began. God is not punishing you; He is preparing you for something greater. This season will soon pass. And what you have learned will equip you for life ahead.
Bro. John A. Temple is retired pastor of Poplar Springs Drive Baptist Church, currently serving as chaplain for the Lauderdale County Sheriff Office. From the Shepherd's Heart is published Fridays in The Meridian Star.