Study Guide 3

Overcoming Temptation

Life of Christ Small group series

Lesson Texts: Lk 4:1-13 – Mk 1:12-13, – Mt 4:1-11

I know without asking that this lesson will apply to all of us.  It’s just part of the human equation to face temptation, the constant strain to filter the contents and influences of our lives. We may find ourselves constantly thinking “not to listen to that!” “not to look there!” “not to watch that commercial, that movie, that scene!” “Keep those thoughts out!” It’s a continuous battle, which can be exhausting. Then there is that troubling thought, “how could a follower of Jesus have those kinds of temptation”?

It never seems to fail that, right after a major success of some sort, a major testing time follows. They teach in business school to expect a letdown after achieving a major goal. Jesus experienced that in our study topic. He had just been baptized. When He came up out of the water heaven opened up, the Holy Spirit descended on Him in the form of a dove, and the Father spoke from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son in whom I’m well pleased.” Oh, it was a big day for Jesus. That would be a big day for any of us! Immediately after that the Holy Spirit leads him into the wilderness to be tempted for 40 days. Here comes temptation Slamming into our lives, throwing us off balance, challenging all God has for us. We’re not alone! Jesus was tempted, too. His story shows us that…

He was In tune the Spirit, Saturated with the Word, and Dependant on Gods power.

I. Led by the Spirit:

Lk 4:1 “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.”

a. Filled with the Spirit:

I feel it’s important to stop and note that Jesus was fully connected with God (filled with the spirit) and yet still faced temptation.  Some new, and maturing Christians alike, feel they are somehow a failure if they have ungodly thoughts and feelings from time to time.  Just because we give the control of our lives and wills over to our heavenly father doesn’t mean we cease to be human.  Notice what the author of Hebrews writes about Christ’s humanity:

Hebrews 4:15

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.

Please notice that the Bible never says Jesus wasn’t “really” tempted!  He was; he just didn’t give in.  He was tempted as we are (or even more so) but didn’t sin. There was a higher power calling the moral shots in his life the power of God.

We must be careful to avoid the often used excuse, “I’m only human” to justify self gratifying and destructive behaviors. Sin is sin we have given in to temptation, it’s that simple.  The good news is we can overcome temptation and Christ will show us how!

b. Allow God to Lead:

Ga 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

Jesus was Spirit led, not just “spiritual”.

Have you ever seen someone who claims to be spiritual, but not led by Him? They have all kinds of whoopee experiences but there is no fruit in their lives to suggest God is in control. You see them in churches all spiffed up, saying all the right things, acting all the right parts, but their life is a mess. There is a war going on in us between the Spirit of God and our sinful nature. When we don’t allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit we leave ourselves vulnerable to temptation.

We cannot be spirit led unless we know the direction God has left for us in his word.  When we allow ourselves to come into contact with the Bible, whether it be through personal study, Church services, or small groups,  we will be changed.   Many times I have been personally challenged to change parts of my life while studying to prepare and sermon or lesson for others. Remember how the writer of Hebrews reflected on the scripture:

Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

This is why Jesus answered Satan’s attacks each time the same way.

Personal Note: You may have noticed that Hebrews 4 has a lot to contribute to this particular lesson.  You may want to read over those passages to provide extra personal insight, it up to you!

2. Saturated by the Word:

Look at Jesus’ reply to the devil in Lk. 4:4,8,12 “4…It is written, man does not live by bread alone…8…it is written, worship the Lord your God…12…It says, Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

It was clear from His responses that Jesus knew the Word.

a. Know The Word:

Ps 119:11 “I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

What helped Jesus to resist the devil was His knowledge and use of the Word of God. We have access to that same source.

It’s important to know your Scripture! Jesus did! Of course, we’ll never have that if all we do is listen to what someone else says it says. Or read Bible based novels.  I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with these, but there not a replacement for the word!

In a way there are six “components” to “process” God’s Word:

1. Hear the word. (find ways to be exposed to the scripture)

2. Read the Word. (Read for yourself the context and surrounding themes)

3. Study the Word. ( Research using the scripture and other RELIABLE resources what a particular passage may mean.)

4. Meditate on the Word (mentally apply it to life situations).

5. Memorize the Word. ( make it a part of your own life)

6. Do what it says. I believe the first five of these are very important, but if we aren’t willing to do the sixth, the rest is useless knowledge.

b. Do what it says:

Ja 1:22 “Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

Jesus, by His very answers to the devil, showed He was devoted to doing the Word. I’m ashamed of all the times I decided not to do something because I might get caught. How about because it’s wrong? How about because the God who loves me says it is bad for me? That’s the motivation we need to have.

We hear people quote the Bible and say “the truth will set you free.” It’s an accurate quote, but that’s not what Jesus said. The correct quote must include more context, “If you continue in my teaching, then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” God’s Word is something that must be done to be known, then it can set us free.

Jesus was freed from temptation because he was saturated God’s word, in tune with the Spirit and…

3. Depend on Gods strength:

Mk 1:13 “He was with the wild animals, and angels attended Him.”

Some who have taught about the temptation of Jesus have suggested that He was somehow prevented from sinning or given a “special dispensation” from God because if he had sinned, the whole plan would have failed. What do you think? Were the angels just for Him, to protect Him from the devil?

He 4:15 says no. The Jesus Who went before us, shared our weaknesses and temptations…and helps us gain victory over them. If He was given a special deal, the Bible couldn’t say He was tempted just as we are.

In Lk 4:13, most translations, say the devil left when he had finished these temptations. In my opinion the original language is better reflected by the NASB which says every temptation. I don’t know if these three were the only temptations Jesus faced, but I have the feeling there was much, much, more.  It might be that these three temptations were representative of the way Satan played of different areas of Jesus Life.

That being said of this I am sure.  This was not the last time Satan attempted to sidetrack the King of Kings. Desires for adultery, murder, theft, deceit, cheating, dishonor, pride…you name it, He was tempted. He was just the only one ever to not sin. He had nothing more than the Lord Gives us.

I Co 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

It doesn’t say it will be easy, but that we can “endure” it.  Jesus temptation was in no way easy, but he survived it and so can we!

If you’re reading this and find yourself slammed by temptation, just rest in His strength…He’s bigger than temptation. Look around somewhere there is a way out!  It might be painful, it may require sacrifice, we might never be the same again, but remember this

Romans 8:28

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.