February 28th

Jesus: Help in Temptation

14Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil-- 15and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. 17For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.  Hebrews 2:14-18 NIV

14Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. 16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  Hebrews 4:14-16 NIV

3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 4In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. Hebrews 12:3-4 NIV 

Defeating temptation is a skill we must learn if we hope to walk free of habitual sin.  Sexual temptations are some of the most challenging to resist, because they exploit the God-designed pleasure mechanisms in our sexuality.  Our bodies are “wired” for sex not just in our sexual organs, but also in our brains, skin and nervous system.  Sex is really a whole body experience than can powerfully affect us for good or evil.  If we’ve participated in sexual sin, our bodies and minds have been tainted by the “forbidden fruit,” which often leaves us wanting more of it.  This preconditioning leaves us more vulnerable to sexual temptations in the future.  No group of people is more aware of this weakness than recovering sex addicts. 

God foresaw our need for help in battling temptations.  When he sent Jesus to earth, he ensured that Jesus was made like us in every way, so that he would fully understand the human condition.  Jesus was fully God, yet fully man at the same time.   He was tempted in every way that a person could be tempted, including sexually.  As a single man in his thirties in a largely secular culture, we can be sure that Jesus had many opportunities for sexual sin. Additionally, his loving personality would certainly have attracted many eligible women.  

In all that Jesus faced, he remained faithful to God and did not sin.  Even in his thoughts, he did not sin.  In fact, he resisted temptation to the point of shedding his own blood.  In so doing, he atoned for the sins of the world and became a merciful high priest for us with God.  His role as priest is to help us through the temptations we faced.  His attitude toward us is sympathetic, merciful and helpful.  His completion of a sinless life qualified him as an expert in fighting temptation.  He now stands ready to assist us in finding victory over the temptations that we face.  Indeed, we can approach God’s throne confidently, knowing that we will receive mercy and grace in our time of need. 

With such a tremendous source of help available, it’s a wonder why more of us don’t run to Jesus when we’re facing temptations.  There are many factors that seem to stave us off from calling on Jesus in those moments of temptation.  Whether its shame, pride, fear, or some other reason, we must not let anything keep us from tapping into Jesus for the help we need to overcome the temptation.  

Practically speaking, a simple prayer asking for Jesus’ help may be all it will take to release the breakthrough we need against the temptation.  The prayer could go like “Lord Jesus, please help me overcome this temptation.”  Remembering to call on Jesus can be half the battle.  Practice makes perfect, and if we exercise our option to call on Jesus whenever we are tempted, it will become second nature to us.  

One of the hindrances we may face is our own desire to enjoy the potential sin.  Some people allow this desire to keep them from asking Jesus for help because they feel unworthy because of their inner love of sin.  Its important to remember that Jesus will even help us through the Holy Spirit to put our desire for sin to death (Romans 8:13).  A simple prayer to that end could be, “Lord Jesus, help me die to this sinful desire.” 

Finally, once we’ve asked the Lord for help, then we must act on whatever he tells us to do in response.  If we don’t heed his instructions in that moment, we’re almost guaranteed to fall.  For example, if he tells us, “Shut the computer down now,” we had better heed his voice.  Failure to do so will not only grieve the Spirit because of our disobedience, but it will continue to weaken our will to resist the next round of temptations we face.  

Questions for further thought:

Prayer:

“Lord Jesus, I confess any times that I have failed to call on you for help during temptation. Please forgive me for not asking for help.  Thank you for persevering through all the temptations you faced on earth for our benefit. Thank you for being my merciful and faithful High Priest.  Please help me remember that I can confidently approach you for help at any time.  Please convict me to obey your instructions at any moment of temptation, such that I will be victorious and faithful to you.  Thank you, Jesus! In your name I pray, Amen.”