Sermon: How to Defeat Temptation
Scripture: Matthew 6:13
In this week’s lessons, we learn what temptation is, where it comes from, and what we are to do in order to defeat it.
Theme: The Lord’s Example
I want to give you one final example of how temptation can be resisted, and the best example I can give is the account of the temptation of Jesus Christ recorded in Matthew 4.
Sometime ago, when we were on this subject in connection with our studies in the book of Philippians, we did a question and answer period on The Bible Study Hour. The announcer asked a question that I have heard many people ask before in one form or another. He asked, “We have all heard the expression, Dr. Boice, that temptations come to us from the world, the flesh, and the devil, but it seems that all three of Christ’s temptations in the wilderness came to Him from the devil. Isn’t that right? And if it is, how can we say Jesus ‘was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin’?” (Heb. 4:15).
It was a good question, so I began by pointing out the fact that there is a fine distinction here, on the basis of which it was necessary for Jesus to be tempted in all points directly by the devil. Jesus did not have a sinful nature as we do, so He could not be tempted by a sinful nature. Neither could He be tempted by the world directly because the sins of the world are pride, arrogance, desire for dominance, and so on, and Jesus had no point of contact in Himself for these. If Jesus was to be tempted at all, all of the temptations must have come to him from a direct encounter with the devil, just as Adam and Eve had to receive their temptations from the devil, since, before their fall, Adam and Eve did not have a sinful nature either.
At the same time, however, we notice as we read the account of Christ’s temptations that each of the temptations did relate to one of these three areas. The temptation to turn stones to bread was a fleshly temptation; the temptation to throw himself from the top of the temple in Jerusalem was a temptation to gain the world’s esteem in the world’s way; and the temptation to worship Satan was an outright spiritual temptation that would have placed the Lord in direct opposition to God, His heavenly Father. Thus, although all of the temptations came originally from the devil, they were nevertheless temptations to the sins of the flesh, the world, and the devil. And they show us that Jesus was tempted in all ways as we are. Of course, these temptations were far more subtle and stronger than our temptations because of their source.
Now how did the Lord Jesus Christ come out on top of these temptations? This is an important question, for most people think that He did it by drawing on His divine nature, believing that He had more power to resist temptation than we do.
Well, it is true that Jesus did have more power than we do. But there is nothing in the Bible to show that Christ ever resisted temptation by drawing on His divine nature. Jesus was both man and God, yet He resisted temptation as a man. Moreover, it is for this reason that He is an example for us when we are tempted.
From Matthew 4, why did all three of Jesus’ temptations need to come from the devil directly?
Into what three areas did each of Christ’s temptations fall?
Why can Jesus’ own temptation serve as an example for us when we are tempted?
Application: The next time you face temptation, what will be your immediate responses?
For Further Study: Download and listen for free to James Boice’s message, “When Temptation Comes.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)