English: God gives us the strength to resist temptation
Spanish: Dios nos da la fuerza para resistir la tentación.
Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7
Psalm 103:1-4, 8, 10, 12-13
God gives us the strength to resist temptation
Attention! Hear Ye, hear ye! Listen to the truth: Temptation is not a sin. Jesus Christ was tempted, and He never sinned. One of the greatest misconceptions is that we are sinning when we are tempted.
A wise old man said, “When I was young, I prayed that I would not get tempted. Now that I am old, I pray that I get a few.” Temptation is just part of being alive, part of being human. Jesus wanted to identify with us in all things except for sin. Therefore, He allowed the devil to have an encounter with Him. Picture the scene: Jesus had fasted for forty days and forty nights (That just means a long time. There was no stopwatch to mark the time.) After the long time Jesus was hungry, thirsty, tired. Consider that we are also tempted when we are down. Evil recognizes that we are vulnerable when we’ve had a difficult day, if we are sick, when things haven’t gone the way we planned. The devil usually presents a lie, an alternative which might sound better, but really isn’t. Satan uses the illusion that if we do such and such, then our life will change, and we will be happy. The assumption is that we cannot possibly be happy in our actual circumstances. All of God’s creatures are happy being who they are. A dog likes being a dog. A cat loves being a cat. A zebra delights in being a zebra. Human beings are another story. We don’t like who we are, and we offer God countless suggestions on how He could have made us better. Evil steps into our discontent and tempts us with illusions. The illusions are: Be smarter, shorter, taller—anything has to be better than what we see in the mirror. Which by the way is how most products are sold— “You need this, you want this, you can’t live without this.” Since our world is saturated with lies, we have a difficult time distinguishing between reality and illusion. Sadly, so many folks believe everything they see on television, the movies, or the computer. Evil presents abundant bliss or overwhelming fear—neither are real—but they interesting. That’s how most temptations begin—they are interesting. They arouse our curiosity.
Our ancestors were tempted in the same way. “Be something you are not. Be better. Have powers beyond your imagination.” The sin of the world is the rejection of being human. We all know the story. Adam and Eve had everything. They enjoyed original innocence until they disobeyed. Then their eyes were opened and realized that they were naked. In other words, then they saw their imperfections. When we love someone, we do not see their faults. Adam and Eve fell out of love, then they had to hide.
We still hide when we do something wrong. We hide when we don’t want to face the truth. We even hide from ourselves. Jesus did not hide. He faced reality head on. When confronted by temptation Jesus said, “No”, every time. Being God, He could have turned the stones into bread. He could have jumped off the temple and angels would have caught Him. Jesus could have assumed ownership of all the kingdoms of the earth without any problem. However, each temptation went against the limitations of His humanity. Therefore, in order to embrace His humanity, Jesus said, “No” to the devil and “Yes” to His pain. We know that our life can be painful. Fictious characters with superpowers are attractive. Who wouldn’t like to fly? Or be a wizard and fix everything with the wave of a magic wand? Many folks are tempted to live in fantasy. They get there with drugs, alcohol, or other control substances. Our challenge is to be sober—to accept our limitations, and to find happiness in our reality. Whatever our desert experience is—Illness, loss of a loved one, financial difficulty, we are never alone. The temptation is to think that we are alone and that nobody cares. Not true. God always sends us the strength to survive under any trial.
Temptations will always exist, but God’s help will always be available. Good voice, bad voice. God leaves us free to choose.