In Matthew 4 today I came across the record of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, note this happens before his public ministry “officially” begins – it says that he was lead “by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting for 40 days and 40 nights he was hungry.” (Matt 4:1-2).
There are several parallels here to the Israelites in Deut 8. They were in the wilderness, they were there for 40 years, they were tested. But what really hit me when I went back to Deut 8 was how the Bible explains why they were tested —
…and you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has lead you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.
Jesus’ heart is never in question – he is God. He fought Satan with the Word of God but the Word also says that he was tempted, there was really sin before Him – but he never gave into it. (Heb 4:15, 2 Cor 5:21). Our hearts, on the other hand…are very much in question. Every minute of the day is a spiritual battle – a battle for the heart – where will you put your trust, your hope? Especially during trials.
God never tempts us to sin (James 1:13), but he does allow circumstances to come into our lives to test us, and as Deuteronomy says to “humble us” and to “know what was in your heart.”
How will we react when we are in these situations? As we are called to be imitators of God (Eph 5:1) we should use our offensive weapon, the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17) which we all have at our disposal. Fight temptation with the truth of who you are in Christ – he has won it for you on the cross. If you are in Christ, you are forgiven, holy, pure, righteous…saved. Fight with humility, fight in the power of the Holy Spirit – call upon Him to empower you (Gal 5) and fight with prayer and the Word of God. Pray that he will find you worthy of His calling (2 Thess 1:11; Eph 4) and your heart strong and pure, resting on the promises of God.