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Devotional Archives
(May 7, 2001)

Intense Temptation, Amazing Results

      By Fern Horst

"And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil.... And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about." (Luke 4:1-2, 14)

We so often think that intense temptation is always an indication of a weak relationship with the Lord. As a result of this misconception we then also struggle with guilt and self-defeat on top of the struggle with the temptation itself. But reading of Jesus' 40 days of intense temptation in the wilderness should help us to see that such an assumption is not always true.

Jesus had a perfect relationship with the Heavenly Father and had never sinned. Furthermore, the Bible says that "Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost...was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil". Not only was Jesus perfect and had a perfect relationship with the Father, but He was also full of the Holy Spirit when He encountered this temptation.

We can certainly encounter temptation when we put ourselves in situations where we know we will be tempted. But when temptation hits us like a ton of bricks when we are going about our Father's business, it is then most often a result of our close relationship with Him. Satan knows when a person is accomplishing things for the Lord and he will do his best to hinder that work in any way, primarily by making the strong fall flat on their faces in sin. This is why the Bible warns, "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (I Corinthians 10:12).

After Jesus' 40 days of temptation in the wilderness, the Bible says that He "returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee," indicating that the 40 days of encountering, resisting, and overcoming temptation resulted in an increased power of the Holy Spirit within Him. This incident happened at the beginning of Jesus' ministry, and seemed to be part of His preparation.

God reminds us in the book of James that this same principle is at work in our own lives:

"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." (James 1:2-4)

It sure doesn't seem like temptation is something that we should rejoice over. But knowing that the result can be an increased work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, giving us a greater and more powerful ministry to others, gives reason to consider temptations and trials a joy.

The result of enduring temptation is not just for now, but for eternity. Several verses later in James, we also read this:

"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." (James 1:12)

Satan would like us to believe that certain temptations are unbearable and that God just expects us to give in to them. But God's Word has an answer for this false concept as well. We can follow Jesus' example and use Scripture to counter any temptation Satan throws our way. The following verse is one to keep close to our hearts and minds to counter any attack of temptation that comes our way:

"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer (allow) you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (I Corinthians 10:13)

As you go about our Father's work this week, don't be surprised when temptation comes your way. In fact, you can most assuredly expect it. But you can also just as assuredly expect that God will "make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it," and that overcoming the temptation will result in a more powerful filling of the Holy Spirit in your life and in your work in God's Kingdom.

Copyright (c) 2001 Fern Horst

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Reader's Comments from last week's devotional:

"Thanks for your article on Samson and Delilah. I wanted to stress the fact that not only are we not to get involved sexually with unbelievers, but the same holds true for believers. Too many single Christians today think it's o.k. to get sexually involved with someone they are sure they are going to marry. And sadly, they engage in the sex, but never make that final lifelong commitment.
      Samson played with fire, and we do too, whenever we open ourselves to avenues of lust. As Jesus said, it's not just the sexual act itself, but the imaging of it within our hearts and minds that already cause us to sin. The movies we watch; the books we read (even Christian romance books!) -- all of it will lead us down that same path that Samson walked.
      I really think the greater temptation to us singles today who are truly trying to live committed, Christ-like lives, lies not so much with the unbeliever -- but with those who call themselves Christians. Our guards come down; we think it's all right to do certain things, and imaginations can go where they are not supposed to, and the sin is done." --Elvia

"The Samson story is tragic. It reminds me of a girl i know who had a problem with sexual immorality. The girl has a heavy annointing on her life and God uses her mightily. Unfortunately by the age of 21 she had 3 children out of wedlock with different fathers and was warned prophetically that if she ever got involved in sexual immorality again she would catch aids.
      Everything was fine for about a year and suddenly she disappered from the church for a few months. When she retuned, she advised that she was pregnant again. She gave birth to a little girl and was advised to go for an HIV test. Guess what, she was positive. She is now back in the church and is keen to serve the Lord. She testifies about him all the time. But wouldn't it have been better for her if she had not contracted this disease?
      In Zimbabwe, the message of Samson is particularly relevant because we often pay for sexual immorality with our lives. Over 25% of the population is HIV positive. As christians we often pray for people to be healed but the reality is that a lot of the people who we pray for actually die. As single people we have to accept the fact that we reap what we sow and the wages of sin is death. Repentence does not necessarily result in a removal of the consequences." --Zandile

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