Temptation is often treated like a joke. We joke about the temptation of the box of jelly donuts a co-worker brings to the office and proudly announce we kept to our diet. We make light of the reduced price of an article of clothing on Amazon and how we resisted the temptation to buy it. We keep the level of our engagement with temptation at a superficial level. If we probe any deeper, we discover that temptation is really about the lie. If we probe any deeper, we see how easily we are taken in by it.
Lying is so much a part of our culture right now and we are having a hard time facing that reality. In the world of politics, one lie is followed by another which is then countered by a stretching of the truth on the other side of the spectrum. When a corporation is caught in questionable behavior, spin is applied to deflect the challenge and denial of responsibility. Temptation is to fall for the distortion of the truth, the lie.
The Spirit is leading Jesus into the wilderness where the devil will have at him. After, forty days of eating nothing Jesus was famished and at his most vulnerable. The devil began the lies. What is interesting is that Jesus knew his identity. The devil knew who Jesus was too. Yet, the lies began.
The first was about making bread out of rocks. The lie was about independence from God the Father. Jesus knew his oneness with the Father. He was not going to declare that he was separate. Jesus didn’t go for the lie. If only we knew better than to declare our independence and face the consequences. This is our sin.
The second was about getting all the kingdoms of the world by simply giving adoration to the devil. Question, when did God cede his rights over the world to the devil? This is the lie. With the Spirit at his side, Jesus would have nothing to do with the lie. How often have we bought the lie of worshiping that which has nothing to give in return?
The third lie was to doubt the Father’s life sustaining presence and jump off a building. The devil even used Scripture to support the test. Jesus knew well enough the lie of doubt the devil was trying to instill. He wouldn’t test the Father’s care.
The testing was done for now. The devil would try his best at future opportunities. With the Spirit at his side, Jesus would face more lies the devil would throw at him. Thankfully, he remained true. This is how and why we can call him Savior and Lord.
Temptation is much more than resisting a piece of chocolate. Temptation is all about the lies that come each day. The lies are many. They work to deny what Scripture says is true about life and loyalties and worship and identity and so on. I can only wish that I and we as a whole were far better at seeing the lies for what they are… quit participating in them.