Temptations In The Wilderness

He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him” Mark 1:13.

When I tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, I entered a ‘wilderness’ of self-quarantine and isolation in a hotel room. During this time, I was tempted by doubts, fears, and unanswerable questions. One night, the enemy was so determined and persuasive that I was afraid to sleep. Throughout this ordeal, God’s angels ministered to me in text messages of encouragement, prayers, catered to my physical needs and expressed best wishes.

The Gospel writers tell us that Jesus was tempted. Like someone in a hurry and looking over his shoulders constantly, Mark tells of Jesus’ temptation in one sentence. According to Matthew the temptations took place after the forty days and forty nights (Matt. 4:2-3), but, quite significantly, Mark and Luke tell us that Jesus was tempted during the forty days (see Mark 1:13; Luke 4:2).

Jesus’ temptation highlights his humanity. He became like us and had the ability to sin. He was tempted, with a likelihood of failing. However, his divinity and the power of the Holy Spirit ensured his victory over temptation, and he can make us be like him with the power to resist temptations, however intense and determined.   

No human being, sinful or sinless, holy or unholy, perfect or imperfect, is precluded from temptation and it does not have to be a wilderness. The dinner table, during worship, in the pulpit, at the office, just to identify a few places and times when the tempter will strike. Friends, from we awake in the morning, sometimes even before we get out of bed, until we lay down to sleep, and even while we are lying on our bed, the enemy find creative, subtle, and devious ways to tempt us. That includes when we are doing something good; and therefore, it is not uncommon for our virtues to be tarnished with vices.

Until we die, we will be tempted in various ways, and at various stages of our lives. Never forget that to be tempted is not to sin. Yielding to temptation is where the problem lies. Therefore, Horatio R. Palmer was correct when he wrote: “Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin; Each vict’ry will help you some other to win”.

I implore us to embrace the sentiments expressed in John Page Hopps’ lovely poem, entitled: “Father, Lead me Day by Day”.  In this prayer for all God’s children (not just youth and children), we look to our Divine Parent to lead us “day by day”, and seek God’s aid so that when we are “tempted to do wrong” we can remain “steadfast, wise, and strong”.  There are times when we are constrained to stand “all alone” and in such times we need desperately to be shielded with the “mighty hand” of God.

Friends, sinlessness does not prevent temptation. Therefore, we will all be tempted, but the indwelling power of God can enable us to resist.

Thought:        Purity does not preclude temptation.
Prayer Focus: Pray for the power of God to resist temptation.