The Gospels: Navigating Temptations: A Journey to Spiritual Strength and Resilience

Embarking on the path of faith often presents us with various temptations that may not always be immediately discernible. How we navigate these challenges can significantly impact our spiritual well-being. This article delves into the insightful messages from a recent sermon, offering cohesive insights on recognising and addressing temptation, understanding our identity in Christ, and relying on God’s strength to overcome.

Recognising and Dealing with Temptation:

We can find the strength to overcome temptation by realizing that Jesus once stood in our shoes – yet remained blameless. Central to the sermon is the emphasis on the importance of awareness regarding temptation and the need to resist allurements that may seem enticing initially but aren’t aligned with God’s will. Ps Bojan underscores the necessity of remaining vigilant and not succumbing to sinful desires, making a clear distinction between being tempted and actually sinning.

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him,c and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him

Matthew 3:13-16 ESV

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son;d with you I am well pleased.”

Mark 1:9-11 ESV

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Luke 3:21-22 ESV

I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’

John 1: 31-34 ESV

This is the transformative power of faith, declaring us as not slaves to sin but rather slaves to righteousness. This aligns seamlessly with the core teachings of Christianity, focusing on shaping a righteous and God-aligned life through the grace of faith.

Ps Bojan eloquently outlines three main strategies employed by the enemy to divert believers from their path: distraction, discouragement, and offense. Understanding these tactics becomes imperative for staying steadfast on the journey and fulfilling the destiny God has set for individuals.

Jesus’ Baptism and God’s Love:

The profound symbolism behind Jesus’ baptism, depicts His identification with humanity despite His sinless nature. This act of humility serves as a poignant reminder of God’s boundless love, culminating in the sacrificial gift of Jesus to cover sins. The purpose was for Jesus to completely identify Himself

Testing in the Wilderness:

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

Matthew 4:1-2 ESV

This was a period of forced dependence upon God the Father. He learned obedience through the things which He suffered. Drawing parallels between the experiences of Israel, Jesus, and the wilderness, the wilderness period acts as a transformative phase where God prepares individuals for the next season in their lives. Temptations and challenges during this period are inevitable, requiring us to endure in faith and avoid growing weary in doing good.

Overcoming Temptation with the Word of God:

Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered

Hebrews 5:8 ESV

He endured temptation both so that He could identify with us and to demonstrate His own holy, sinless character. There is power in responding to challenges with the Word of God, and Jesus’ in the desert is a perfect example. Sheer willpower alone is insufficient; we are encouraged to rely on God’s strength and seek His guidance when faced with temptation.

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life[a]—is not from the Father but is from the world.

John 2:16 ESV

3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written: “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Matthew 4:3-4 ESV

We are urged to prioritise living by the Word of God rather than relying solely on material sustenance. The analogy of living not by bread alone but by every word from God’s mouth reinforces the importance of spiritual nourishment in the believer’s journey. We are encouraged to actively seek a “proceeding word” for our current season, highlighting the dynamic nature of God’s communication.

Temptation to Selfishness and Acknowledging Weakness:

Ps Bojan smoothly navigates through the dangers of using God’s gifts for selfish purposes, cautioning against self-worship. Verse 3 also shows that this was a temptation to use God’s gifts for selfish purposes – the lust of the flesh.

Jesus did not silently disagree with Satan – He answered Him with the word of God. Jesus used scripture to battle Satan’s temptation, not some elaborate spiritual power inaccessible to us. If we are ignorant of God’s truth, we are poorly armed in the fight against temptation. We should embrace human weaknesses and actively seek God’s help in times of temptation.

Satan appealed to the desire within every man to sense approval from God and to have that approval publicly demonstrated – the pride of life. The devil’s suggestion was of an artificially created crisis, not of trusting God in the situatiosn which result from obedient service. The devil has memorized the Bible himself, and is an expert at quoting it out of its context to confuse and defeat those he tempts.

8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”

Matthew 4:8-10 ESV

Satan appealed to the desire to accumulate, to have our own kingdoms and to be objects of worship – the lust of the eyes. In the same way we can resist the devil and he will from us.

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

James 4:7 NKJV

Recognising and dealing with temptation involves a holistic approach, incorporating a deep understanding of our identity in Christ, a reliance on the timeless truths found in the Word of God, and an acknowledgement of our dependence on His strength. By embracing these principles, we can navigate temptations and challenges with resilience and spiritual fortitude, ultimately fulfilling the purpose God has ordained for our lives.

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