What’s the Point of Temptation

Seems like an odd question doesn’t it?  Is there a point to temptation?  Mostly we think that we are tempted just because that’s what Satan likes to do?  It’s just how it is, so we have to learn how to deal with it. Right?  Well I thought so too until recently when I listened to a lecture by a seminary professor on the Gospels.

He was talking about the passage in Luke concerning the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13).  Typically we hear this passage used as a model for us in dealing with our own temptations.  We are told to respond to those temptations the same way Jesus did – mostly by quoting Scriptures.  Generally, I think this is still good advice, but what caught my attention was a statement this professor made about this incident.  He asked WHY Satan tempted Jesus.  What was his goal?  And the answer the professor gave was that Satan was trying to stop Jesus from embarking on His messianic mission even before He started.  In other words, Satan was hoping he could keep Jesus from caring out His purpose and calling here on earth.  After all, it had already worked once before when Satan tempted Adam to abdicate his God-given mission.

This got me to thinking.  If it’s true that WE also have a calling and purpose – which it is,

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,  which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

then it would make sense that Satan would likewise want to do everything he could to stop US from fulfilling our God-given purpose!  So being tempted isn’t a weakness on our part, nor is it just hassle to deal with, but instead being tempted is evidence that God has an “assignment” for us.  Satan is trying to stop us from carrying out God’s plan for us.  In a twisted sort of way, this is terribly encouraging.  God has called me, Satan knows it, hates it and is trying to destroy, kill or steal (John 10:10) what God has given me to do.

So as I face temptations, I can fight back by standing on the promises of God for my life.  I can talk back to Satan and tell him, “No! You will not sidetrack me from doing God’s will!  You cannot distract me from working out in His plans for me!”  We can be strengthened in our resolve to resist, not just because we “should,” but because we have a really important mission to carry out.  I would think that this would take the teeth out of the temptation.  So as you go about your life and you suddenly realize that you are being tempted to turn aside, stop and say to yourself, “I wonder what God wants me to do now?” and turn that temptation into an opportunity to listen to the Father.  Satan hates when that happens.

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