You get up early. You pray, you study, you are inspired.
You know that today, this day, you will do it, you will walk that narrow path.
And then the sun comes up, and the kitchen gets messy with breakfast, the clock keeps ticking, the bills still need to be paid, the people you love are still sinners… and it turns out that so are you.
Perhaps you are more self-controlled or spiritually mature than I am, but I can tell you that my faith is much easier to live in my quiet time than it is to walk out in the messiness of real life.
Daily I find myself tempted to be impatient, to complain, even sometimes to despair.
Temptation was no stranger to Jesus. Early in His earthly ministry He experienced far greater temptation than any of us will ever face.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread along, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written,
‘He will command His angels concerning you’;
‘On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’” Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.
Did you notice how Jesus responded every single time? With the Word of God! Each of Jesus’ answers is a passage from Deuteronomy.
Jesus set the example for us. He knew that the scriptures held all that He needed to respond to temptation.
And note that He didn’t grab a temple scroll and say, “Wait, um, hang on where was that verse, uh…” Jesus knew the scriptures. We too will be better equipped to handle temptation if we have hidden God’s Word in our hearts. It is hard for scriptures to come to mind that aren’t there in our minds to access! And I don’t know about you, but many of my most challenging moments occur when I am nowhere near a bible.
Is there an area in which you find yourself consistently tempted? Focus on memorizing scriptures that address your temptation. If you are in need of ideas for specific scriptures, leave a comment and I will search some out for you. Odds are good I face the same temptation and have already had to find them for myself!
Did you know that God has also provided us with spiritual armor against temptation? Ephesians 6:10-17 outlines the pieces of our God-given armor:
- belt of truth
- breastplate of righteousness
- boots of peace
- shield of faith
- helmet of salvation
- sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God
Of all six pieces, the only piece which is offensive (as opposed to defensive) is the sword of the Spirit… God’s Word. We abide in Christ’s truth, righteousness, peace, faith and salvation, but we are called to actively use His Word, His sword.
I find it helpful to speak scripture aloud when I am in a difficult moment, even if it is a whisper. There is nothing wrong with extemporaneous prayer, but praying scripture is an especially effective way to pray when you are in crisis.
God’s Word has a power that is inexplicable. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that…
…the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Miraculously, God has granted us free access to this powerful gift!