Temptation, Christ, and the Holy Spirit

Matthew 4:1-3 “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came …”

Look at our track record. We are children of the First Adam. Even in the best of our God-created gardens or gracious conditions, we find ways to cooperate with Satan. Foolishly, we contemplate the lies of the Evil One. We then doubt the affection and wisdom of our Heavenly Father. His gracious laws become burdens to us. We consistently covet being the supreme deity in our own lives; oh how we desire to worship and glorify ourselves. Consequently, we do not say “No!” to the devilish temptations that come our way, and we find ourselves eating from the tree of excommunication, death, and damnation. We ruin ourselves while harming our spouses, families, and neighbors. We then have nothing left but to clothe ourselves in man-made skins and hide from God. Through all this, Lucifer laughs as God’s image-bearers are marred.

Look at the track record of the Son. Jesus is guided by the Holy Father and the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be assaulted by the Tempter. His place of temptation is not a lush garden; his is is a barren wilderness. Jesus has no food to strengthen him; fruit-filled trees are nowhere to be found; he is hungry for a month. Additionally, Jesus has no earthly companion or helper; he is isolated and alone in the fight. For forty days and forty nights he is attacked by the devil. In Matthew, we are treated to three of the encounters. However, through it all, Jesus remains unstained, unaffected, blameless, sinless, righteous, or holy. The Son worships his Father with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. In every second, he does that which is right. Not for one second does he sinfully flinch. All his thoughts are holy. All his desires chaste. And though tempted with greater vigor than the First Adam, he wins the day. Jesus dominates the devil and proves himself to be God’s “beloved and well-pleasing Son.”

Look at the Good News in regard to our positional sanctification. Friends, because of the divine swap intended by God, Jesus righteousness becomes our righteousness. We have received Jesus’ report-card and now our holiness grade reads “A+.” His perfection is our perfection. The Father looks at us as if we have dominated the devil at every turn. Though serious temptation comes our way in a variety of forms, we are viewed, declared, and treated as those who …

  1. Have never worshiped anyone other than the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  2. Have never thought or uttered God’s name improperly; he has been honored and not vainly blasphemed.
  3. Have never thought wrongly regarding God’s image, character, and attributes.
  4. Have never denied or discounted the Lord’s sabbath rest or wasted any of his sabbath days.
  5. Have never dishonored — in thought, word, or deed — those authorities whom God’s has placed over us.
  6. Have never had vindictive thoughts, said hateful words, or acted murderously towards our neighbors.
  7. Have never engaged in sexual and/or selfish thoughts, desires, or practices apart from our spouse.
  8. Have never stolen that which God has given to another.
  9. Have never lied — in word, deed, or contract; all of our words are truth and our vows are kept.
  10. Have never coveted that which God has chosen not to give to us; we are perfectly content in our Shepherd.

Yes friends, because we are in Christ, we are viewed as those who have kept the Greatest Commandment, the Ten Commandments, and all the other presentations of God’s Law found throughout Scripture. Every single day, because of Christ, God looks at us and says, “You are my beloved sons and daughters; in you I am well pleased.”

Finally, look at the good news in regard to our practiced sanctification. The same Spirit that guided Jesus Christ into the place of temptation, he leads us. It is his will that we be tempted.

The same Spirit that empowered Jesus to win over temptation, that Spirit is present in us. “Greater is he who is in us than he [and others] who are in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

However, as we can all attest, the same Spirit that dominates the devil, he quite often allows us to fall. He who will make us “without sin” in glory, has not done so yet. And in allowing us to be tempted and fall, he reminds us of our sinfulness, our total depravity, our impotency, the heinousness of sin, and our daily need for Christ’s grace.

However, that same Spirit who dominates sin and Satan, he loves to stick it to the Evil One. And every day, he is the one who — at his own pace and volume and consistency, grants us new hearts, new affections, new thoughts, new prayers, and new successes. So, while yet sinning, we can boast in the Spirit’s progressive work of holiness. We can praise God for what He is doing in, through, and with us. When we kill sin, we can say, “Thank you!” When we put to death the deeds of the flesh, we can say, “Praise God!” As we flee youthful lusts and pluck out eyes, we can say, “To God be the glory!” So, let us hate our sins, confess our sins, confess our Gospel hope, and confess our transformed desires for righteousness, and then let us praise God and enjoy the times when we find ourselves saying “No!” to the world, the flesh, and the devil and “Yes!” to Christ and his glorious will.

Galatians 5:22–23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

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