Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
The Lord was led to the wilderness, immediately after the glories of His baptism.. after the wonderful experience of the Spirit descending as a dove on: ‘My Beloved Son’. Immediately after the glory followed the terrible experience, of the wilderness testings. Spiritual privileges do not exempt us from any fiery trials. Often a vast wilderness of trials looms ahead after a high, mountain-top experience. Frequently a season of blessedness is transformed into a period of wretchedness.
Testing times often follow a season of tender intimacy and gracious communion. The sweet portals of love often lead through a door of testing trials and bitter pain. The enemy’s fiery trials and evil suggestions often follow a time of joyful bliss. It is not lukewarm believers that ignite Satan’s wrath or are enticed by the world’s entreaties. It is frequently those that seek to be faithfully obedient that engender these trials. It is often the seeking heart that becomes the butt of Satan’s vicious and prolonged attacks:- blessed is the man who endures temptation.. for when he has been approved he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12
An old writer wrote these wise words:- “All the while our Saviour lay in His father’s shop and meddled with the carpenter’s chips, the devil troubled Him not. Now that He is to enter more publicly upon His mediatorship, the tempter pierces His tender soul with many sorrows by solicitation to sin”. The observations of this saint ring true with us. As long as we move in quiet backwaters the enemy does not trouble himself with us. Only as we rise to higher consecration and service does he pounce on his prey seeking our destruction. The aging apostle understood this fact and penned these wise words:- be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 1Pet.5:8
Remember this principle as you face the fiery trials that beset you. Remember that sufficient grace and new power comes from the Lord through conflict. Remember Christ’s life was developed and honed and made perfect through suffering.. for He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. Heb.5:8 It is not God that places bitter temptations in the lives of believers but the enemy. "God cannot be tempted with evil neither does He tempt any man.” James.1:13. However, God permits the tempter’s trial to beat us sorely as He did with the Lord Jesus: "Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted – of the devil". Matt.4:1
The trials Jesus faced were needful to demonstrate the qualities of the last Adam. "Being made perfect, Jesus became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him." Heb.5:9. Christ’s trials were designed so that as our High Priest He could empathise and succour. The Lord’s testings were needful to demonstrate the qualities of the second Man: for we do not have a High Priest Who cannot sympathise with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin, Heb.4:5
Sometimes the temptations Jesus faced came through His earthly relatives. Ofttimes His trials were delivered though the ones that He loved the most: "get thee behind me Satan," He cried to His dearly loved Simon Peter, and yet to this same staunch and dedicated servant He gave great reassurances: "Satan has desired to sift you as wheat – but I have prayed for you that your faith fails not." Luke 22:32
Assaults were indeed made on the Lord’s physical needs through the enemy’s taunting: “if you’re the Son of God make these stones become bread and satiate your hunger”, he schemes, but the Lord had nourishment that the tempter could never understand: "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work." John 4:34. But assault after assault was made on Christ’s faith in the Father, and His obedience to God. Sometimes His temptation came through direct taunts and attacks from the tempter. Sometimes His trials came via a subtle suggestion from His family or a dearly loved friend. Throughout His life, Jesus was enticed to leave His path of total dependence on the Father.. and frequently they came through the persistent criticism and accusation of religious leaders – of men whose hearts were set to discredit and denounce our Lord.
We too often receive the same set of trials and tests that Jesus Himself faced. We also face trying and testing days as we watch our familiar world crashing. Those once remote areas of testing trials are increasingly knocking upon our doors. Satan knows His time is short and seems to be multiplying mayhem on His saints. He uses whatever means he can to shipwreck the faith of believers. He searches out our vulnerabilities. He chips away at our faith in his vile manner. But the Lord who prayed for Peter continues to pray for all His disciples – "for Christ Jesus, Who died–and Who was raised to life is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us." Rom 8:43
The Lord warned that at His return for His Church, believing faith would be rare. He even asked the question, “When the Son of Man comes.. will He really find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8. However, this question is preceded by a precious principle of faith:- "and shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily." Luke 8:7
Many are the Scriptures, that assure us the Lord will take us to Himself, before He turns His attention back to His own beloved people. Many are the Scriptures that warn us to 'hold fast to our faith'. Many times we are exhorted to be faithful in a world of tribulation. Many Scriptures remind us that Satan cannot overcome the church of Christ. Many times we are reminded that God will give us a way to escape from trials: "for no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." 1Cor 10:31
Today the enemy continues his assault on the Church with increasing intensity, but the saints of old bear witness of God’s never-failing faithfulness to His children. Remember, when Job contemplated the greatness and faithfulness of God he cried: "though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him." Job 13:16 And the prayer of Habakkuk is a timely reminder to hold fast to the faith we posses, for despite the temptation to lose his faith in God – He rejoiced over God’s faithfulness.
This is what Habakkuk wrote: "My body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us. Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; He makes my feet like the deer’s; He makes me tread on my high places."
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