What’s the difference between a trial and a temptation? At the moment our aviation program is experiencing a trial. They have way requests and need for flights than they have aircraft or staff available to meet that need. The affects of it are felt all across the field. One family was able to get out, so they could have a language evaluation. But due to weather their return flights did not happen. And, because the schedule is so full, there was just no way to squeeze another flight in for them. They had to wait another month before we finally found a commercial option to get them into their location.
In the midst of trials, the enemy will often tempt us with various things.
- Why did He allow things to get to this point?
- Why didn’t He do something to prevent this?
- How are the guys going to be able keep going at this pace?
- Doesn’t He care?
- God tries, Satan tempts.
- Trials prove and enhance our faith to make it stronger. Temptation persuades us to evil, deludes and seeks to ruin.
- The one aims at our good, revealing our true moral self, the other aims at evil, leading us into sin.
I was so encouraged when I read a recent update from our aviation team in the US. (https://ethnos360aviation.org/stories/story/impossible-goal-reached) Help is on the way. For now, God is asking us to endure and to wait patiently on him.
The Passage: Mark 1:12-13; Matt 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13
As Jesus leaves the scene of his baptism, basking in the incredible display of God, His Father’s affection and approval of Him, he receives a new prompting, a new direction, by the leading of the Holy Spirit. Luke 1:12 tells us, “The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.” Matthew 4:1 completes that thought with “to be tempted by the devil.”
God, the Holy Spirit, drove Jesus, God the Son, into the desert, and put him in a place where he would be vulnerable to the devil! Isn’t that a staggering thought. It is important to note here that God never tempts! God leads us, at times, into trials, where we may experience temptation, but God never tempts us to do evil!
God led/drove Jesus into the desert and tried him. God gave him a trial, a hardship. Matthew 4:2 says, “And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.” In scripture fasting is almost always done in conjunction to prayer. God led Jesus to go out into the desert and fast and pray for forty days. Some have conjectured that Jesus spent 40 days preparing for his encounter with Satan. Others have said that he was so engrossed in prayer and worship that he didn’t even feel his need to eat. We don’t really know exactly what took place for those forty days. All it says is that he fasted for forty days, and when he finished, he was hungry. Hungry is probably a little bit of an understatement. He was famished!
If Jesus was praying while he fasted for the those forty days, Satan would not have seen that as an opportune time to try and tempt Jesus. But, once he was done, and the physical implications of not eating for forty days hit Jesus. Now was an opportune time. Jesus was weak. Jesus was tired, Jesus was hungry. It’s in these times when we also are particularly susceptible to temptation. God gives us trials to endure, but Satan tempts us to doubt God’s care and try and escape.
Trial / Temptation #1
Matthew 4:3 “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”
The trial: God led / drove Jesus into the desert. God led him to fast for 40 days. As a result of God’s leading, Jesus faced a physical trial of extreme hunger! God did not tempt Jesus in anyway with this trial. It was a physical trial (desire of the flesh 1 John 2:16) for which God the Father was asking Jesus, His son, to trust Him in.
The temptation: Satan suggested doubt in God’s care, and came to offer Jesus an escape from his physical suffering. “Since you are the Son of God, you can do anything you want! You are famished, and God, your Father, hasn’t given you anything to eat. There’s nothing around in this desert place. Why don’t you just make something to eat out of these stones!” Satan tempted Jesus doubt God’s care and to manipulate the circumstances in order to take control so he could alleviate his current suffering by himself, independent of God.
Jesus did not give into the temptation. He overcame by quoting scripture and standing on the truth, even if he didn’t feel it! “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matt 4:4)
Jesus was saying, “God does care, I don’t need bread! God’s Word and what I know is true (without doubt) will sustain me. That’s what I choose to let govern my behavior, not what I feel.
Trial / Temptation #2
Matt 4:6 “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “ ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’
The trial: Jesus was embarking on a very difficult task. God had said that He was proud of Jesus. That He loved Jesus. But, the task was daunting. He was going to need His Father to empower Him and sustain Him in order to do it. How was God going to do that? The trial in this was to submit to God’s will even though what God was doing was hard, and he couldn’t see how God was going to do it. (1 John 2:16 desires of the eyes)
The temptation: Prove God’s care. You test another because you do not have confidence in them. If you have full confidence, no test is necessary. Satan was tempting Jesus to test God, and force him to prove himself and to show (with his eyes 1 John 2:16) that God is going to sustain an take care of him as he embarks on this ministry God called him to.
Jesus overcame, once again, by reminding himself of truth. “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Matt 4:7) God’s care doesn’t need to be tested. I don’t need to prove his care for me, I don’t need to see it! (1 John 2:16) I know He cares! I don’t need to test it because I believe it without a doubt!
Trial / Temptation #3
Luke 4:6-7 “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”
The trial: Way back in Genesis, when God first began to describe His plan for redemption, He declared to Abraham, “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” The seed / ancestor of Abraham was to bring blessing to all the families of the earth! (Gen 12:2-3)
When the angel described to Mary who Jesus would become he said, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:32-33)
Jesus was going to become the king of kings and the Lord of Lords. But, it was going to take the suffering of the cross.
The temptation: What Satan was offering Jesus was to bypass the suffering of the cross, and be given the kingdoms of the world without having to go through the suffering. Instead of taking the humble road of submission to God’s plan and the suffering that would bring, for Jesus to take the position that is rightfully his (pride of life 1 John 2:16) right now. Satan was tempting Jesus with immediate gratification rather than enduring suffering and waiting for the fulfillment of God’s plan.
Once again Jesus overcomes with scripture, “It is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.” (Luke 4:8)
Jesus’ temptation proves a biblical principal found in James 4:7: If one resists Satan, he will flee, and resisting always comes by Scripture (Eph. 6:10-18). Luke added one last phrase and said that the victory was for a season. Every spiritual triumph is temporary. There will be more spiritual battles later, and the spiritual warfare must be fought until the day of death.
What was God doing? Why did He have this written down?)
James 1:13 tells us that God Himself does not “tempt” anyone. We can never complain that God is tempting us to do something wrong or evil. But, God certainly can put us in places where the enemy may take the opportunity to tempt us!
Earlier in the chapter, James said, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And when we let steadfastness do it’s work, it will perfect and complete you so that you lack nothing.” (James 1:3-4) Even Jesus had to go through this process. Hebrews 5:8 Even Jesus “learned obedience through the things he suffered.”
1 Peter 1:6-7 describes it this way, “If necessary, you are grieved by various trials.” It’s trials that James tells us that we can find joy in, not temptations.
In every trial, there is always temptation to try and manipulate and control to find a way of escape instead of seeing it as a joy. But joy can come when we recognize by faith that the trials, just like gold that is refined by fire, test the genuineness of our faith. (1 Peter 1:7) Our faith is much more precious than gold that parishes. God wants our faith to result in praise and glory and honor when Christ returns. That’s why sometimes he has to put you through the fire.
- What can I learn from this?
- What is God saying to me and my life from this passage?
- I need to learn to see trials as God’s refinery and find joy in the process. That doesn’t mean I should be happy, or even enjoy the trial. But, I can choose to believe God has put it there to make me stronger.
- I need to recognize the potential for temptation in the midst of trials. I will be tempted to find a short cut, or to find a way to alleviate the pain. I need to recognize that as a temptation, and to resist with God’s Word.
- I need to fill my mind and remind myself of truth in times of vulnerability. Knowing that Satan will use lust of the flesh (my desires) lust of the eyes (my need to see God keep His word) and the pride of life (Independence from God and trying to do things in my own strength) to tempt me.
The Power; Declarations of Truth:
What do I need to declare to myself, what steps do I need to make, in order to implement and integrate what God is telling me?
- Always remember, what I am experiencing is by the hand of God BECAUSE He loves me and cares deeply for me and my faith.
- God desires to make my faith stronger
- Its through trials that I build endurance and confidence in God
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