You know those days when you’re just like ‘Wow. I am so messed up’? ‘Why do I keep going back to what I know is wrong?’ ‘Why do I give in to these temptations when I know where it got me last time?’
You keep trying to get away, but only end up running in circles.
It can get to a point where it’s almost depressing. You keep failing in a certain area of life and you don’t know why. Well, you DO know why - it’s because you’re a sinful human being. But you wonder why you keep doing what is wrong when you KNOW what is right.
The Apostle Paul talks about this in the book of Romans 7 where he says:
‘For what I am doing, I do not understand. For I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate...For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.’
He is addressing the conflict of two natures - his spiritual heart of flesh and his sinful heart of stone. Evil is always present. Temptation is very real.
But, praise God, that we’re not alone in this. Even the perfect Man suffered from temptation.
‘For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who in every respect has been tempted as we, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.’
- Hebrews 4:15-16
As the Son of man and Son of God, Jesus Christ was tempted. Yet He never sinned. He was tempted in every single aspect that we as humans are tempted. Every single one. Think about that for a minute.
John Piper’s thoughts on this subject gave me a completely new view on it.
‘If a person gives in to temptation, it never reaches its fullest and longest assault. We capitulate while the pressure is still building. But Jesus never [gave in]. So He endured the full pressure to the end and never caved. He knows what it is to be tempted with full force...no one has suffered more.’
This may or may not encourage you.
Part of you may be thinking, ‘Wow. He endured so much more than I did. Then of course, with His strength, I can overcome this small temptation’. And the other half of you might be saying, ‘Well Jesus is God. We can never not give in to temptation. We aren’t perfect. He was - and is.’
We are very likely to feel insufficient when facing our own temptations and the evil that lurks for us in every corner. And when we come to God with struggles and short-comings, it’s humbling and frightening to stand before His perfection and so keenly feel everything that we have done against Him and His laws.
But ah, what was the first part of that verse in Hebrews?
‘...to sympathize with our weaknesses’. Jesus doesn’t feel against us. He feels with us. And the awareness of this gives us strength, makes us bold to come before the throne of grace and cry out for help and strength to face our struggles. He bids us come with confidence and with the right as children of God.
With every temptation, there is a way of escape. There is never any need to sin.
- Elizabeth T. King