How to Resist Temptation: The Key to Not Giving In

We all struggle with temptation. We all give in to temptation. Jesus was also tempted, but he never gave in. Thus, he can help us overcome temptation.
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Our son loves to play on the computer in the kitchen.  Sometimes, though, he sneaks over to get a popsicle or yogurt.  The fridge is right there, he’s able to access it.  Yet, despite his knowing he shouldn’t get food without first asking, there are times when the temptation is too strong.  So he gets a snack.

Every single one of us is tempted every single day.  Not a soul on this planet has been able to avoid all temptation.  Even Jesus was tempted.

That’s the topic of today’s passage.  As we look at Scripture, we’ll see three things: Jesus was tempted, he never sinned, and he is ready and able to help us overcome temptation.  First, the passage:

14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 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 are, yet without sin. 16 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 4:14-16 (ESV)

Jesus was Tempted . . .

Remember the scene from The Bible: The Epic Miniseries with Jesus and Satan in the desert?  Satan was tempting Jesus, hoping in vain that the Son of God would give in to physical temptations (make bread to eat), emotional/psychological temptations (worship Satan and become rich), and spiritual temptations (test God by jumping).

Something else to note: Satan often misquoted, misinterpreted, or misapplied Scripture to try to lure Jesus into giving in.  By the way, Satan still does this today, and sometimes uses preachers to do it.

Hungry, thirsty, weak, and tired, Jesus was seen as vulnerable.  Satan took this opportunity to do see if the “second Adam” (cf. 1 Cor 15:45-49) would follow in the footsteps of the first Adam by giving in to the temptation.  However, where the Adam followed Satan and sinned, Jesus rebuked Satan and stayed holy.

We all are tempted to do the wrong thing, but temptations don’t have to be grandiose.  Ever looked at a buffet or potluck table and, suddenly, your eyes open wider, your mouth waters, and you can’t wait to dive in?  That’s temptation.  Ever wanted to be known as the most noteworthy at something, be it community leader or expert in your field of work?  That’s temptation.  Ever wanted to lash out at other drivers?  Yep, that’s temptation, too.

Each of us is tempted every day.  However, we’re more like the first Adam who gave in than the second who resisted.

. . . But Jesus Never Sinned

Notice that verse 15 says that Jesus is “without sin.”  That’s right.  Despite being tempted, Jesus never gave in.  We, however, give in all the time.

How do we give in to the temptation?  With our thoughts and our deeds.  We often think of sin in terms of our physical actions, but Jesus said that even our thoughts betray God and us.  When we think a sinful thought or have a sinful desire, then we are guilty of sin (Matt 5:21-48).

When we look at the buffet bar and are tempted to pig out, then we start imagining all the food we’re going to get, then we’ve given in.  When we look at another person and have lustful, desirous thoughts, then we’ve given in.  Even if we don’t physically engage in the act, we’re still guilty.  However, when we sin in our thoughts, it makes it easier to sin in our actions, too.

Jesus, however, didn’t sin at all.  No sinful thoughts.  No sinful desires.  No sinful actions.  No sin at all!  And because Jesus was tempted yet never sinned, he is ready and able to help us resist temptation.

Jesus Can Help Us Resist Temptation

It’s impossible for us to resist temptation on our own.  We can’t do it.

We need help.

But, here comes the Son! (ha ha, Beatles reference)

Seriously, if we’re going to resist sin, we will need Jesus’ help.  Verse 16 tells us to “draw near to the throne of grace.”  We need to cultivate a growing, personal relationship with our savior, Jesus, if we’re to resist temptation.

God’s grace is not merely about being nice, kind, or being saved.  Grace includes help to do what God wants us to do.  Grace includes help to be who God wants us to be.  Grace includes helping us not give in when we are tempted.

Bringing It Home

Temptation is all around us.  Temptation is sometimes (I would argue, often) found within us.  We can’t hardly take breath without being tempted.  The only way to resist the devil, to resist temptation, is to cling to Christ.

Like our father Adam, we too easily give in to temptations all the time, even in our thoughts and desires.  Jesus, however, didn’t give in at all.  Furthermore, he offers himself and his grace to all those who are willing to accept him.

Jesus, the perfect, sinless savior, is ready and willing to help all those who call on his name in faith.  Will you draw near to him today?

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