Today we’ve finished the book of Nahum, so we’re taking a slight break from the Old Testament prophets, and are starting on a book we’ve actually never done before; Mark. — This is what God gave me today in His word:
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him. (Mark 1:9-13)
Now this is an extremely interesting story. First we Jesus baptized, then God declares that He is well pleased with Jesus… And then, seemingly out of the blue, Jesus is brought to be tempted for forty days and forty nights by Satan! Now, there are two things we can learn from this:
- That being tempted isn’t a sin.
- That after God really speaks to us in some way, we can expect to undergo temptation.
Being Tempted Isn’t a Sin
Everyone is tempted to something which is sinful, every minute of every day. Even if the temptation only comes in the form of wanting to not ‘mediate on Scripture’ (something which the large majority of people, for the large majority of the time, pretty much fail to do). But with that said, it’s not a sin to be tempted! People sometimes get the idea in their heads that being tempted to, as in Jesus’ case, test the Lord, is a sin in of itself. This isn’t true, and only serves to unnecessarily defiles the conscience!
Now, in some things temptation comes in the form of thinking angry thoughts towards someone else, and in that case, even just thinking those thoughts (whatever they may be) is a sin. There is an important distinction between temptation, and imagining doing something; ones just fine, while the other is a sin. The Devil will tempt everyone, even our High Priest, Jesus, who was without sin, “has been tempted in every way,”.
This may seem like a small matter, but in reality it’s very important. Thinking that temptation is sin can lead us to think we may not even be Christians for the amount of “sin” we commit every minute by being tempted.
If God Has Given Us a Special Revelation, We Can Expect Greater Temptation
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. (2 Corinthians 12:7)
Yes, it’s true we are tempted often enough as is. Yet the Devil takes a special pleasure in tormenting the Christian who has recently had an intimate time with God, or been given a revelation of some sort in God’s word. We see this very clearly in Paul, who was taken up to the third Heaven, and afterwards was given a messenger of Satan to torment him… The point of saying that, being that if we feel God has given us some “great revelation”, we shouldn’t be surprised if Satan redoubles his efforts on us.
In general, this is what we should take away from this: being tempted isn’t a sin, and we can expect even greater temptation when God gives us even greater revelations; thus meaning we should put our security even more in God (the Christian equivalent of getting ready to deflect attacks).
You are Loved!