What is temptation?

Read: Matthew 4:1-11

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1

We’ve all seen cartoons in which a tiny white, winged angel and a tiny red, horned devil appear on a character’s shoulders to try to convince him or her to do something. It’s supposed to be funny, but the devil is a real being who really interacted with Jesus--and who interacts with us! Being tempted is one of the ways Jesus became like us, so that he could set us an example of how to deal with temptation.
One thing we can know about temptation from Jesus’ encounter with the devil is that being tempted--being enticed to do something displeasing to God--isn’t a sin. We know that Jesus was perfectly sinless, but that doesn’t mean He never felt a desire to sin or faced a person or circumstance that encouraged Him to sin.
We also learn that God can allow you to be tempted, but He is not the one doing the tempting. The Holy Spirit Himself took Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted, but the temptation came from the devil. One reason for Jesus’ temptation was so that he could demonstrate that he was a person just like us, but the Bible also tells us that “God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone” (James 1:13). The devil does the tempting; the bible calls him an accuser, the father of lies, and a “roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8). If you know the story of Job from the Old Testament, you know one example of God letting one of His people be tempted by Satan.
Being tempted is one thing we have in common with Jesus. We can learn how to deal with it from what Jesus did in response.

Questions for discussion and reflection

  • What is one common temptation you face?
  • Why do you think God allows you to face it?

Dear Jesus, thank You for being like us and an example to us in all ways, including facing temptation. Help us learn how to resist from your example. In Jesus’ name, Amen.