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Jesus was led by the Spirit to be tempted, just as we are.
Image credit: Lumo Project

In today’s Bible reading, read that “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

Cutting through the double-negatives, the writer tells us that our High Priest (Jesus) is sympathetic to our weaknesses. He’s been tempted in every way that we are, yet He is without sin. Does this mean that he has faced every single temptation that we have? Obviously not. Jesus was never tempted to waste precious family time on social media perusing his newsfeed while neglecting the needs of those closest to him. Then how was He tempted “in every way”?

When Jesus was tempted (Matthew 4:1–10), He faced the same categories of temptations as we: the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. (1 John 2:16) Yet, in the midst of His temptations, He didn’t give in. We should take great comfort in the fact that being tempted isn’t sin. Jesus was tempted, yet didn’t sin. And also note that Dr. Luke sets up Jesus’ temptation in the context of being full of the Holy Spirit at His baptism, and then being led by the Spirit for the purpose of being tempted. (Matthew 4:1)

Application

The implication is that it is possible to be filled with the Holy Spirit and be in the throws of facing your greatest temptation. The two experiences are not mutually exclusive. In fact, given Paul’s encouragement/exhortation/command in Ephesians 5:18 to be continually filled with the Spirit, we should expect the be tempted while being filled/empowered/controlled by the Holy Spirit. There is no better situation for facing temptation than to be filled with the Spirit! Otherwise, you’re virtually powerless to face the onslaught of demonic attack.

So when you face temptations — and you will — rejoice! James tells us to be joyful when you encounter various trials, knowing that our faith-tests will produce endurance. And endurance will ultimately result in our maturity in Christ. (James 1:2-4)And rejoice when you’re tempted because Jesus as our High Priest knows what you’re going through.

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