Tag Archives: Temptation

What if Jesus Turned the Stone Into Bread?

March 20, 2014

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Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness - between 1886 and 1894 - James Tissot (1836–1902)

Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness – ca. 1890 – James Tissot (1836–1902)

I’m glad he didn’t –

He would be a completely different kind of savior if he had.

Every time I read through the account of Jesus’ temptations, (Luke 4:1-12) I have to think back through the reasons Jesus did not turn the stones into bread. It seems like such a simple and harmless act – plus his fasting period was coming to an end.

Speaking of fasting …

Fasting is one of those biblical ideas taken to its extremes by the various denominations. It is a rather simple exercise intended to bring the person closer to God, but it has been exploited to the point of being meaningless to most people. That, and the lack of a New Testament requirement for it, has caused the original intent of fasting to become obscure.

Fasting is a period of sacrifice to the point of discomfort to remind us of our humanity and our need for God.

So what would be different if Jesus had turned the stone into bread?

He would have been turning away from God

If fasting is intended to be a time of drawing nearer to God, then Jesus was doing everything he could to show God he needed him. Using his ability to perform miracles for a selfish purpose voids that dependence.

We often do that when we allow worry and fear to drive our response to challenges.

He would have understood us less

Jesus came to the earth in the flesh so God would know exactly what our lives are like. He suffered physical discomforts. He was tempted to sin. He had to learn how to survive.

Turning that stone into bread is something a person could never do. Jesus would never know what human suffering is by taking advantage of such an easy solution.

When we are trying to be helpful, we often risk diminishing others’ suffering by saying we understand what they are feeling. We should be careful when we do not share a similar experience.

His humanity would have suffered from doubt

The devil tempted Jesus by saying, “If you are the Son of God…” (Luke 4:3 my emphasis.) In other words, “prove to us both that you can really do it!”

If Jesus had allowed himself to be manipulated in such a way, imagine all of the other events in his ministry that lose their impact with the introduction of a little doubt!

This is what happens to us when we respond to false criticism and irrelevant detractions. We lose our influence and our power to lead.

Jesus already commanded all the devil had to offer

When we really look closely at the temptation of Jesus (Luke 4:1-12) we see that Jesus was never tempted with anything that he did not already possess.

In a spiritual sense, the same is true with us!

When faced with temptations and challenges, remember what Jesus showed us is possible.

And be glad he didn’t turn the stone into bread…

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How to Beat Temptation

January 27, 2014

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Temptation of Christ - 16th Century - Simon Bening (circa 1483/1484–1561)

Temptation of Christ – 16th Century – Simon Bening (circa 1483/1484–1561)

Temptations are a part of life.

The Bible uses the word “temptations” either as “lures to sin” or “trials and tribulations”. For now I want to concentrate on the things that lure us into sinning.

Jesus taught us how to deal with temptation in short fashion:

“If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away…” – Matthew 18:8

When Jesus addressed our temptations to sin in Matthew 18:7-9, he didn’t leave a lot to the imagination, and he didn’t leave a lot of wiggle room to make excuses. For Jesus to use such a strong metaphor for dealing with the temptations in our lives, he meant for us to get drastic. He meant for us to remove the things that tempt us most in our lives – and remove them in a way that can’t be undone!

Let’s think just a minute on the major sources of temptations:

  • Our workplaces
  • Our family
  • Our friends
  • Our hobbies
  • Our habits

It is relatively easy to talk about giving up a hobby or changing a habit but …

What about changing who you call your best friend?

What about quitting your job?

What about cutting off a close relative?

These sources of temptations are the ones that we usually give each other leeway on when they are causing us trouble. But …

Should I really suggest that you find another job because it is keeping you out of church too much?

What Jesus says in Matthew 18:7-9 makes me think so.

I understand that we will never have complete control over the environment we live in, but we can certainly remove a large number of opportunities to sin. Sometimes only one or two changes is all we need to remove most of the temptation from our daily routine.

Personal challenge: What can you change in your life to remove a recurring temptation that you face?

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Dark Paths

June 12, 2013

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Now, my sons, listen to me;
pay attention to what I say.
Don’t let yourself be tricked by such a woman;
don’t go where she leads you.
She has ruined many good men,
and many have died because of her.
Her house is on the road to death,
the road that leads down to the grave. – Proverbs 7:24-27 NCV

Both Solomon and David fell to the temptation of adultery and lust and suffered because of it. Is there any wonder that Proverbs is full of warnings about these sins? In the end, neither the victim nor the guilty receives any joy from adultery. The Bible shows us over and over again how far this removes us from God.

In A Mini-Marriage Clinic, I mentioned a few of the basics I have noticed were the core of every long lived marriage. Checking your boundaries is a critical one that deserves daily attention. The “road to the grave” (Proverbs 7:27 NCV) is littered with those that didn’t honor the limits God inferred they would keep when they said their vows.

We spend so much time in the workplace that it becomes an excellent place to find ourselves in tempting situations. The opportunity to do normal business activities unaccompanied with a person that is not our spouse are plentiful and is often the doorway for those who stray. To avoid the temptation, a few simple rules built around the idea of checking our boundaries can go a long way:

  • No unaccompanied lunches with a member of the opposite sex
  • No traveling alone with a member of the opposite sex
  • No flirting, “cute” comments or even overly familiar conversations

The two most important relationships in your life are with God and your spouse. When a marriage is centered on God, the bonds with both become unbreakable. Mentioning both lovingly at every opportunity keeps us off the dark path.

Daily Bible reading for June 12

Proverbs 7
Deuteronomy 14
Hosea 11:1-11
Philemon 1-3

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Keep Your Distance

June 9, 2013

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 7 Now, my sons, listen to me,
and don’t ignore what I say.
8 Stay away from such a woman.
Don’t even go near the door of her house,
9 or you will give your riches to others,
and the best years of your life will be given to someone cruel.
10 Strangers will enjoy your wealth,
and what you worked so hard for will go to someone else.
11 You will groan at the end of your life
when your health is gone.
12 Then you will say, “I hated being told what to do!
I would not listen to correction!
13 I would not listen to my teachers
or pay attention to my instructors.
14 I came close to being completely ruined
in front of a whole group of people.” – Proverbs 5:7-14 NCV

What are some things you have difficulty resisting?
Why do you avoid them?
Why does our resistance fail sometimes?

Temptation is a part of life everyone faces. Jesus wrestled with it (Matthew 4:1-11) and showed us how to overcome it.

Some situations need to be avoided at all costs. Solomon says not to even go near the door (Proverbs 5:8) and Paul says to flee from them (2 Timothy 2:22). Obeying this means making some difficult decisions – You may have to change your job, friends, sources of entertainment and maybe even dodge certain family members. Most of us tend to be like the five people we hang around the most.

Solomon’s wisdom is to think about the end result of what we do. What habit do you need to change before it is too late?

Daily Bible reading for June 9

Proverbs 5
Deuteronomy 10:12-11:32
Hosea 8
Titus 3:1-8a

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Stay Off the Wrong Path

June 2, 2013

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Contrast the birds’ ability to avoid an obvious trap with someone that enters willingly into sinful adventures – The easy score … The fast buck … “One upping” someone…

Even a bird has more sense than people that follow the temptations the world offers. (Proverbs 1:17-19)

History is littered with the failure of those who thought they could avoid falling into their own trap. Every year there is some new scandal in the government. Someone thought they could get away with ignoring the rules. Sometimes it seems they do it in spite of knowing they will get caught.

The only safe way is to stay off the path of evil. (Proverbs 1:15-16) For the ultimate example of avoiding temptation, read about Jesus in the wilderness in Matthew 4:1-11.

Daily Bible Reading for June 2

Proverbs 1:8-19
Deuteronomy 3
Jonah 3
2 Timothy 2

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