Everybody faces temptation. And on some level, everybody has fallen to it. Everybody but Jesus. I have walked in the wilderness where Satan tempted Jesus.
Good grief, what a place. As far as my eye could see, it was empty, dry, and depressing. I tried to imagine the solitude and struggle Jesus would have endured for over a month. But I could not.
How did Jesus resist temptation here?
Temptation Comes in Moments of Need
We can barely stand to fast for a day or two. Can you imagine fasting 40 days? Jesus did so in preparation for temptation—and became desperately hungry and needy. And in His moment of need, the devil slipped in. (Satan waits for moments like these.)
If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread (Luke 4:3).
In a moment of vulnerability, Satan tempted Jesus to satisfy His legitimate need for food in an illegitimate way. It’s as if Satan said: “Turn this stone to bread—use your power to gratify your need.”
What a cheap shot. Every stone would then become a temptation. And believe me, the wilderness of Judea has plenty of stones! Jesus’ reply shows that—though He was physically hungry—He was spiritually full:
It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone’ (Luke 4:4).
How Jesus Prepared for Temptation
What had Jesus, the meek and mild carpenter, been doing all those silent years growing up in Nazareth? We just saw it. His first words revealed it to us.
It is written.
Jesus grew up with a hammer in one hand and a scroll in the other. He prepared for three-and-a-half years of ministry by spending about three-and-a-half decades memorizing portions of the Word of God.
4 Ways to Resist Temptation Like Jesus
Jesus’ attention to the Word of God gave Him a spiritual reservoir to draw from in time of temptation. The Scriptures can do the same for us.
Here are some actions you can take to resist temptation like Jesus:
- Determine to commit portions of the Word of God to memory. Get a friend to hold you accountable.
- Meditate on the verse in your mind throughout the day. The goal is the renewal of your mind (Romans 12:1-2).
- When tempted, quote the verses out loud, remembering they are true and the temptation offers a lie.
- If you find yourself tempted in the same areas repeatedly, learn verses that speak to that topic (see #2 below).
4 Resources to Help in Temptation
Here are some resources you may find helpful:
- I have benefited from memorizing the Topical Memory System.
- You can search for verses by topic at BibleGateway.com.
- My podcast on “How to Beat Temptation,” focuses on Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness.
- John Owen’s books, Of Temptation and Of the Mortification of Sin (read online or download for free) have been helpful to me. Both books are also available in one volume. These are heavy reading, but they are great and intensely practical.
Jesus’ knowledge of the Word of God remains a model for us of faithfulness under fire.
Like Jesus, we can resist temptation.
Tell me what you think: What verses have been most helpful for you in temptation? To leave a comment, just click here.