Read Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-6 and Luke 4:1-4
The story is told of a man who went on a diet. He was so committed; he even changed the route of his morning commute so as to avoid driving by his favorite bakery. Then, one morning, he showed up at work with a giant coffee cake. His co-workers questioned him and he replied, “This is a special coffee cake. This morning, when I drove by the bakery, it was in the window. So, I prayed, ‘God, if it is your will for me to eat that coffee cake, let there be a parking space open right in front.’ And, sure enough; the sixth time around the block, there it was.”
When we hear the word temptation, we often think of situations that present us with opportunities to indulge in decadent, immoral or inappropriate behaviors; opportunities that threaten to undo our individual will power or self-restraint. Many view the custom of “giving up something for Lent” as an opportunity to strengthen individual will power.
But spiritual temptation involves far more than our will power or self-restraint. Ultimately, it reveals how much we trust God and his Word.
In the gospel of Luke, the story of Jesus’ temptation is immediately preceded by two important sections of scripture. In Luke 3:21-22, we read that Jesus is baptized and a voice from heaven says, “You are my Son….” Then, we have a narrative interlude that consists of a genealogy (see Luke 3:23-38). It is a genealogy that works its way backward from Jesus to the very first man, Adam. Adam, too, the gospel writer tells us was a “son of God.”
As Genesis, chapters 2 and 3 reveal, the first man and woman were also tempted; tempted to eat from a forbidden tree. In a garden filled with food, God had announced one tree as being off limits. But the interaction with the serpent causes the woman – and subsequently the man – to question God’s Word. The serpent plants the seed of doubt that God is holding back on them. What was once a healthy boundary becomes a dubious barrier. The man and woman fail to trust in the Word of God.
However, in Luke, chapter 4, Jesus resists the devil’s test. His response in verse 4 is a portion of a verse from the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, chapter 8, verse 3, which concludes: “one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”
The writer of Luke reminds us that Adam, also, was a son of God; but a son who failed to trust God’s Word. Jesus lives according to God’s Word and God’s will. Even better still, when we place our trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, his Holy Spirit makes a home within us and changes us from the inside out. We, too, learn to live from a place of trust, rather than fear and anxiety. The apostle Paul tells us that, by trusting in Jesus and receiving his Spirit, we can “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
Is there an area of your life where you are being tested? Are you wrestling with doubt, uncertainty, or fear? Pray now and ask God to place his Holy Spirit in you so that today you may walk in trust and obedience and experience God’s peace. Amen.
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