For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:18)
I want to challenge you to think about something. If you think about every regret you have in life, every do-over, or as we golfers would say, “every mulligan you wish you could take,” everything you wished you hadn’t done, words you wished you had not said, places you wished you had not gone, or people you wish you had not hurt, I would say without exception it is because you failed to handle temptation. The great playwright, Oscar Wilde, once said, “I can handle anything except temptation.” The good news is everyone who knows Jesus, loves Jesus, and follows Jesus can overcome any temptation because of Jesus. Jesus, himself, has shown us how to do that.
Over the next couple of days, I want us to look at three things we need to do if we want to overcome temptation. The first thing, which we’ll look at today, is that we need to expect temptation.
There is no one immune to temptation. You never get too old to be tempted. You never get too good to be tempted. You never get too strong to be tempted. Even Jesus, who was perfect in every way, faced temptation. But it’s important to note that Jesus was not being tempted as God; He was being tempted as man. Jesus was not being tempted in His divinity, but in His humanity. He was not being tempted as Superman; He was being tempted as Clark Kent.
How do I know that? Well, God doesn’t fast, and God doesn’t get hungry and God cannot be tempted. A human can be tempted. There would be nothing encouraging about Jesus dealing with temptation if He was Superman, but with glasses and a suit on working at the Daily Planet, Clark Kent can encourage people. Jesus faced the devil and temptation just like you and I have to face the devil and temptation.
That is why the first rule you have to follow if you are going to handle and defeat temptation is you have to expect it. You should never be taken by surprise by being tempted. Going out into the world every day with your spiritual antenna and your spiritual radar on is half the battle of defeating temptation.
Dear Father, thank you for your promise to help me when I face temptation. And thank you for this reminder that I need to expect temptation because it is inevitable. May I look to you first for guidance, strength, and boldness next time I am tempted so that I might remain obedient to you. In Jesus’ name, amen.