Temptation: The Hardest Test You Will Ever Take
- Friday, April 01, 2005
Life is a series of attitude tests designed to find out what kind of persons we are. We will be tested at the level of physical pleasure and desires. We will be tested at the level of placing God’s will above our own. And we will be tested at the level of whether we will ever love and respect anyone or anything more than we love and revere God.
Let me turn from the matter of attitude tests to the matter of aptitude tests, and suggest that Jesus passed that exam as well. In fact, the reason He may have passed the character test of attitude is because He was able to pass the knowledge exam of aptitude. Every time Satan tested the character of Jesus, Satan was met with an answer from scripture. When Satan tested Jesus on meeting physical needs, Jesus passed that test by saying to Satan, “Man does not live by bread alone.” He passed the test of not giving God an assignment that had to be done to prove to him that God was real. He passed that exam by telling Satan, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” Finally He passed the test of not allowing anything of this world to become more important to Him than His relationship and obedience to the teachings of God by declaring to Satan, “Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.”
Now notice how Jesus used His spiritual aptitude (His knowledge) to demonstrate His attitude (what kind of person He was). Every time Jesus answered Satan — every time He took and passed one of those tests — he did so by quoting a passage of scripture. Jesus was not depending upon His own wits to see Him through. Jesus was not borrowing wisdom from His family or friends. Jesus withstood the devil by confronting Satan with the word of God. Every time Satan said something to Jesus, Jesus responded with “Thus says the Lord.”
The phrase “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” comes from Deuteronomy 8:3. The phrase “Do not put the Lord your God to the test” comes from Deuteronomy 6:16. The phrase “Worship the Lord your God and serve only Him” comes from Deuteronomy 6:13. In a moment of physical weakness and exhaustion from a lack of food and water for forty days, Jesus knew the Bible well enough to quote it from memory. Jesus embodied the language of Psalms 119:11 that says, “Your word have I hidden in my heart so I will not sin against you.” This is the test that we need to pass as well, to know the Bible so well that its lessons and teachings will come rushing to our minds every time Satan tries to lead us into temptation.
I like the fact that Jesus did not have to flip through the pages of the Bible so He could read the part that he needed in that moment. He did not need to have the Bible in His hand, because He had the word of God in His head and His heart. He did not have to turn to the index or the content page and find out what page to turn to because He did not know where certain books in the Bible could be found. He had become so familiar with the scriptures and so acquainted with its contents that the word just flowed out of Him like water from a fountain. He could pass the attitude test of character largely because He could pass the aptitude test of knowledge.
One day you and I will have to pass those same tests ourselves. Let me make one point as plainly and as straightforwardly as I can: there is nothing you can do to keep yourself from being tested or tempted by Satan. In one way or another, sooner or later, all of us will have to face and attempt to pass the test of temptation — either in the form of physical passions, or impatience that leads us to make God prove himself to us, or the possibility of being more impressed and obedient to some other person or ideology than we are to God. But when our attitude or our character is tested, it will be our aptitude or our knowledge of and faith in the word of God that will see us through and help us pass that test.
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