Overcoming Temptation… Tips From the Example of Jesus

Here’s a BIG word for you at the beginning of 2021… “paradigmatic!” It refers to something that creates a pattern of behavior, something that is a model, or something that is exemplary.

Here’s how I’m using it… the way Jesus resisted and overcame temptation is “paradigmatic” for us in overcoming our temptations! The passage that prompted this reflection in “coffee with the Lord” is Matthew 4:1-11.Right after Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist in the Jordan River, followed by the Heavenly Father’s endorsement of who He was (“This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!”), Jesus was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness” where He was “tempted by the Devil!”

Have you ever faced temptation? I have… and so did Jesus! In fact, in many ways His temptation and how He overcame it is “paradigmatic” for us in the temptations we face! Let me suggest several ways…

1. The temptation Jesus faced was, first of all, an attack on His identity! Satan began this way… “If you are the Son of God…” (and He did that twice in two temptations). Often the temptations we face are an assault on our identity “in Christ!” We really need to know who we are “in Christ” in order to overcome the Satanic assault.

2. Jesus used God’s word to overcome the temptation! His response to the temptation (and the Tempter) was, “It is written…” Jesus, our example, did not use Scripture like some kind of a “spiritual rabbit’s foot” – He had internalized it’s message so completely it was the expression of His character, His values, and His core beliefs! It expressed who He was… the Word of God (John 1:1) And for us in temptation, God’s word needs to be more than a “spiritual rabbit’s foot” – it must be an authentic, inner core part of our belief and values – used with faith as a spiritual weapon.

3. Jesus also used (perhaps better “asserted”) His divine authority when tempted by the enemy! He spoke directly to the devil and said, “Away with you Satan!” And our authority “in Christ” when we face temptation is no less powerful! We must not take Satanic assaults “sitting down!” Scripture assures us, “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world!” (1 John 4:4) And we are urged, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you!” (James 4:7)

Believe me, using Jesus as my example, I am determined NOT to take temptations “sitting down!” I’ll depend on the Lord to provide the strength, the sense of identity (and authority I need), and remind me of the truth of Scripture needed to resist temptation and the Tempter! Let me say it again… the way Jesus overcame temptation is “paradigmatic!”

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