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Temptation-Victim or Victor

by Julius Hovan

Hovans(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)


Welcome to this broadcast of Words of Life. We are so glad that you have joined us for this special time of sharing from the inspired Word of God.  I would like to deal with something today with which every individual, every human being has a problem. And I am talking about temptation to sin.  Are we going to be victims of that temptation? All of us have been, have we not? Or will we seek to be victors over that terrible problem of temptation?
The apostle Paul told the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians chapter 10 and verse 13 that  no temptation has overtaken you, but such as is common to man.  Unfortunately we are often ignorant of the fact all of us have the propensity to sin, to do wrong.  And we need to be teaching the truth of that and preaching it from our pulpits and sharing it with others.  And know the reality and the surety of this thing called temptation and the result of sin that comes from that.
We can offer hope of victory over sin. Think of the horrible things that sin produces. Broken family, broken hearts, divided churches, people that are morally corrupt and affect those that are around them. The list could go on and on to be sure.   Too many are not knowledgeable about the fact that we will be tempted and then when we are and we keep failing, it is easy to get discouraged when that sinfulness attacks us. We may even think temptation is not a problem.  We find ourselves not only confronted by it, but we actually can be overcome by temptation that causes us to do that which is evil.
To be tempted is human. Even Jesus was tempted, we are told, in every point like as we are.  And so today for this broadcast I would like to look at one of the temptations of Jesus.  And let us remind ourselves as we listen to this broadcast: Temptation itself is not a sin. But yielding to the temptation is the sin.

Matthew tells us that John the Baptist, when he baptized the Lord Jesus, was a voice from the wilderness and that a voice from heaven came at that baptismal and it said: This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Now we are familiar with that setting of the baptism, but many don’t know well what happened after that. We are told that he was led by the Spirit into the wilderness for the very purpose to be tempted.  And he certainly was.

In his baptism, as we should be following our baptism, Jesus pledged to do all the father’s will. He was going to be obedient. He was going to be a victor over sin that came to tempt him. He would fulfill all righteousness so he could be that perfect sacrifice for this thing we call sin. He could take a sinner like me, ungodly as I might have been and he can give me a new beginning and a change to being a child of God, free of all the guilt of sin that I have ever committed.

Don’t forget the words of John the Baptizer when he saw Jesus coming. He said: Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  So, my friend, there is a solution to the sin problem. And when temptation comes and I don’t win the victory over it, I can bring that sin to God through the Lord Jesus Christ and he, through the blood of Christ can forgive me no matter what that sin might have been.

And so it was then, immediately following his baptism that Satan came to tempt Jesus and offer him the crown without the cross. G. Campbell Morgan, a well known religious commentator said: The temptation is the story of hell’s attempt to thwart heaven’s purpose. Certainly had the devil been successful on that occasion, Jesus could not have been the sacrifice for our sins.

And so if you have your Bible handy and would care to follow along this morning, turn to the gospel of Luke chapter four and we will read a little bit there about this event in the life of Jesus.  “And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led in the Spirit into he wilderness. And during 40 days he was tempted of the devil.”   What an experience that would be. Someone asked a fellow one time if he literally believed in a real devil. And he said: Oh, yes, I do for two reasons. Well, why is that? Number one, because the Bible says there is a real devil. And, number two, because I have done business with him. I have let that devil tempt me and I have fallen like Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden.

Here Jesus faced temptation even though he was full of the Spirit, even though he was fully submissive to him, temptation came.  He faced Satan, not just for a short while, but for 40 days. What a terrible experience that must have been, what a heart breaking experience. And then we learn that from then on the devil kept on tempting the Lord Jesus.

I like to think that the devil must have been an unseen witness to the baptism of Jesus. And looking now he might have said: So this is the one who has come to crush me and set up God’s kingdom. And then he was resolved. If I can defeat this one, this divine champion of faith, I can win the great victory. And just as Adam sinned in the garden, so all of us have done the very same thing in breaking the laws of God and sinning and falling to temptation. The devil conquered Adam first and he thought he would be able to conquer Jesus as well.

Take note of the temptation. I think Bible believers are familiar with it. But notice the third verse. And the devil said to him, if you are the Son of God, command that this stone become bread.  Surely during his time there in the wilderness there were no stores, there were no restaurants, there was no way for him to have food. He was hungry. We are told that. It must have made the stones, probably some of them kind of looking like a loaf of bread or whatever, it must have made them look all the more like loaves and all the more was the temptation to do what the devil suggested. And what could he easily have done? Would he fall to this? Would he turn this stone into bread so that he could eat? Or is he fully committed to God?
Well, you remember as quoted then in verse four Jesus turns to the Word of God and he says: “It is written. Man shall not live by bread alone.”   Jesus quotes from the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy and the wilderness experiences of the nation of Israel.  The devil has subtly suggested that man’s total need is physical. You just take car of the physical. Nothing else matters. Jesus knew otherwise.

The devil pulls forth today the same temptations to us. If we satisfy the physical need and drive we can be full, happy, joyful people. Well, I don’t know about your experience, but mine with myself and with others, as the Bible teaches, we are more than just a physical body. We have body, soul and spirit and though this body will one day die and decay, turning back into dust, that soul and spirit will continue to live. Oh, how important that we become victors over this thing called temptation and sin.  No more will we listen to the words, oh, if it feels good, you just go ahead and do it.  That philosophy has been proven not to bring satisfaction at all. And yet Satan successfully uses that approach to us as human beings.

The fifth verse then says another temptation comes, and he—that is the devil—led him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.  Imagine the scene and the temptation to yield. That sixth verse goes on to say the devil said to him: To you will I give all this authority and the glory of them. For it has been delivered to me and I can give it to whomsoever I will.

Can you imagine how powerful that temptation was to yield to Satan? And, indeed, he had the power over the present world.  He acknowledged that. The Word of God says when Adam and Eve sinned, they took the power that was from God and yielded it to the devil himself. And so what a scene this must have been. God had given man dominion, but Adam’s disobedience caused it to slip away.

And every time Satan is quick to seize opportunities that he can be the conqueror and he can become the prince of this world. And so Satan comes back after the seventh verse: If you will worship me, it will be thine. And Jesus counters that with: He answered and said: It is written: You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.

What the devil was doing was offering to Jesus a shortcut to receive a crown.  But, oh, my friends, if Jesus had taken that shortcut, he could not have been the sacrifice for our sin, because God demands a perfect sacrifice.  And so I say to you listening this day to this Words of Life broadcast: Compromise with evil is never good to do.  Falling to temptation, talk to the businessman who lost his business because he fell into sin, or the student who ruined their life because of a practice of sin, or the housewife or the husband or whomever it might be. The answer again comes from Jesus as we see in that eighth verse. God does have the answer.
And so on this occasion Satan failed to get Jesus to violate the first commandment which says: You will have no other gods. And he was trying to be God. That is the reason he was cast out of heaven. He wanted to be like God. And so Jesus refused to bow to Satan an to serve him. It was unthinkable to the  Lord Jesus to do that.

Verse nine then says that he led him up to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said: If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down from hence.

Now notice what happened. Notice what the devil does. He quotes the Scripture when he says from the Old Testament: ‘God will give his angels charge over you to guard you and on their hands they will bear you up lest happily you dash your foot against a stone’.

Now in the first two temptations Jesus used the Word of God as a weapon to defeat Satan and used it well and successfully.  But now look what the devil does. He seizes the very weapon that Jesus used, the sword of the Spirit, quoted it incorrectly, if you will check on it between the New Testament rendering and the Old. The devil didn’t get it quite right. But you see his approach. Here we are on the top of this great temple. It is a sheer drop of some 400, 500 feet down into the Kidron Valley. The pinnacle of temptation now comes to Jesus. Just jump on down there, the devil said. God has promised to protect you, hasn’t he?  Boy, if you can do this, this would really put your trust in God. Everybody could see it.  They would see and have some divine razzle dazzle.  And how great you would become. They will accept you then.

Well, that is the way the devil works. Notice there are three attempts and three failures.  Verse 12 says: And Jesus answering said unto him: It is said: You shall not make trial of the Lord your God.

Three times the devil tempted Jesus to sin. Three times there was utter failure.
And verse 13 then tells us: And when the devil had completed every temptation, he departed from him for a season, for a little while, until the next temptation. And has it not been your experience? You are tempted and maybe you successfully overcome that temptation?  It is not very long, later that day, next week, pretty soon another temptation comes. The devil never gives up on us. And so the conclusion in that 13th verse, the devil is defeated. And Mr. Campbell says: When hell had exhausted itself, it had put all of its forces against Jesus, but had to be unsuccessful. But I would remind you. The devil always has a follow up program. If he cannot tempt you to lie, he will tempt you to steal or he will tempt you to commit adultery or a dozen or a hundred other ways that he tries to get you.  Remember later he tempted Jesus through the apostle Peter when Peter said: Oh, we would never let you be crucified. And to Judas, who became the betrayer and certainly other as well.

But, my friends, here is the experience of Jesus with temptation. He did not become a victim. He, rather, became the victor. What can these words teach us as we walk our daily lives?  Number one, do not expect to be free from temptation. Jesus was not. The great heroes of the Bible were not. And certainly we in the New Testament are not free from temptation. It is a very real, powerful experience.

Secondly, distinguish between temptation and sin.  The Old Testament man Joseph was tempted in the house of Potiphar, you will remember, and he did not yield to the temptation of committing an immoral act. David, on the other hand, tempted by the woman Bathsheba, he did yield. One was a temptation and no sin. The other was a temptation that led to sin.  Thirdly, we must not face temptation in our own power and strength. The writer John in 1 John 4:4 says: Greater is he that is me—if I am a Christian. He is greater, that power is greater than this being called the devil and this thing called temptation.

Next I would say to you the way to victory and to knowledge is to use the Word of God. How much Scripture can you quote? How well do you know the Bible even the general idea that it has to say? Why then should we teach our young people, oh, yes, to memorize Scripture, to sing Scripture song, to know the Word of God. The secret over temptation is to abide in the Word and to let the Word abide in you.

1 John 2:14 says you are strong young men. Why? Because the Word of God abides in you.  If you are faced with temptation, you need to turn to the Word of God and it will help you deal with it.

And finally I would say this as a lesson to all of us. Remember that Christ is presently praying for all of his people.  That was his promise in John chapter 17. I pray not only for these, but for all. The main function of Jesus now is to be our intercessor. In our hour of temptation Jesus prays that we fail not. And with God’s help and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit we can be victors instead of victims in regard to this thing called sin.

I would remind you: Jesus prayed even on the cross when he prayed for those who were nailing him there.  My friends, what a great thing it is that Jesus is alive today to be our intercessor, to be our help and our guide through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Have you accepted Jesus into your life?  It is our purpose in these broadcasts to introduce you to him and also to introduce you in this simple way that you could confess Jesus as the Son of God and you can turn to him in repentance with a desire to live a new life free from the guilt of sin.  And you can put him on in the waters of baptism and be raised to that newness of life. If that has not happened to you, we would be delighted to help you. You can write us or maybe you have a good Christian neighbor or friend or preacher or pastor that can help you make that decision. And if you are a Christian, well, you deal with that sin and you win the temptation because of the power of the Word of God in your heart.
May God bless you today is our prayer.


                   Julius Hovan is minister of the Bohon Church of Christ, Bohon, KY

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I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13