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Tempted in ALL Ways Like We Are?

From Issue: R&R – June 2022

Q

Jesus was never married and did not have to deal with the temptations that come with marriage. There are many other things He did not encounter while on Earth. How could Jesus be tempted in all ways like we are?

A

In Hebrews 4:15, the Bible discusses Jesus and says: “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” While this statement is very clear, sometimes we go through temptations in this life that seem to be wholly different from anything Jesus experienced. Jesus never had to deal with the IRS. While Jesus was on Earth, He never dealt with a rebellious child who was addicted to drugs. Jesus was not bombarded by pornography as He walked the streets of Palestine like we are today when we check our email or innocently search the Internet for information. How were Jesus’ temptations the same as ours?

As we look for answers to this question, we realize that each of us sometimes thinks we are dealing with something that nobody has ever experienced. The Bible, however, explains: “No temptation has overtaken you except such that is common to man” (1 Corinthians 10:13). The Bible further clarifies this idea when it elaborates more about the sin we are tempted to commit. In 1 John 2:15-16, we read: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.” This text tells us that there are three basic categories into which all sins fall. Every temptation that any person has ever experienced was a temptation to sin through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life.

It is no accident that during the temptations of Jesus, Satan presented the Savior with three opportunities to sin. First, Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread after Jesus had been fasting for 40 days. Satan attempted to get Jesus to give into the “lust of the flesh” and use His powers to alleviate His hunger (Matthew 4:3). Satan then tempted Jesus to prove that He was the Son of God by throwing Himself off the pinnacle of the Temple (Matthew 4:4-7). Satan appealed to the pride of life by daring Jesus to prove Who He really was. Of course, Jesus countered with Scripture and did not fall into the sin of pride. Finally, Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and “their glory” (Matthew 4:8). The Enemy promised that he would give these kingdoms to Jesus if Jesus would simply fall down and worship Satan. By presenting the kingdoms and their glory to Christ, Satan attempted to cause Jesus to fall into the lust of the eyes and covetously desire what He did not yet have. Once again, Jesus resisted the temptation. Thus, we see that Satan’s onslaught on the Lord with his temptations designed to appeal to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life summed up the Enemy’s entire repertoire of temptation.

We see this same categorization of sin in the tragic story of Adam and Eve’s fall. When Satan approached Eve in an effort to tempt her to sin, she took a closer look at the forbidden fruit. Genesis 3:6 says, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.” Notice that “good for food” would appeal to the lust of the flesh, “pleasant to the eyes” would appeal to the lust of the eyes, and “desirable to make one wise” would appeal to the pride of life. Satan still bakes his poisonous dishes with the same three ingredients.

With this understanding of sin, we can now apply what we know to Jesus’ temptations. The Bible does not say that Jesus experienced every situation that we have experienced. He never drove in a car and had to deal with being cut off by a reckless driver. He was not tempted to overeat ice cream. And He had no babies of His own that cried incessantly and kept Him up till the wee hours of the morning. All of these situations, however, have three things in common. Each temptation presented to people in those situations involves the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life.

This relationship between temptations and situations can be illustrated in this way. One time a father and son were walking through a music store looking at the different instruments. For some reason, the son had been having trouble at school with some bullies and the father was telling him that Jesus understood all about his problems, since Jesus was tempted in all ways like we are. The son was incredulous. He did not see how Jesus had ever experienced what he was dealing with. Just then, the pair walked by a piano. The father directed the son’s attention to the piano and asked him, “Do you think every song in the world has been played on that piano?” The boy quickly answered that such would be impossible. The father then walked over to the piano and methodically tapped every key, causing each to ring out its individual note. He then asked his son, “Has every key on this piano been played?” The son then understood the point. Even though every song in the world could never be played on a single piano (situations), every key on the piano could be played (temptations).

While Jesus might never have been in the exact same situation that you or I find ourselves in, we can know that the temptations He experienced that involved the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life were the exact same temptations we experience.


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