On your Mark
At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was
in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals,
and angels attended him. (Mark 1:12,13, NIV)
Mark gives us the Reader’s Digest version of Jesus’ temptation.
It tells us all the essential elements we need to know when facing our own
First, how are we tempted in the first place? Three forces
are always at work in the process of temptation: our own personal tendency to
desire what is opposite of the Spirit, the activity of the enemy, and the
prodding of the Spirit that directs us into engagement with the devil. For
Jesus, it was the latter — but for us, it can be any of the three.
Second, the place of temptation is the wilderness, at least
symbolically. The wilderness represents the barren and dry place. When you find
yourself relationally, emotionally, and spiritually empty you are far more
likely to be vulnerable. When everything is going well — in your life,
your family, your marriage, your finances, your health, and your walk with the
Lord — you are far less likely to fall into sin. But, the desert
represents the places where you don’t have many resources to fall back on and
are most likely to give an ear to the devil’s pitch.
Third, the time of temptation is always for a period. It is
not forever — at least, in its intensity. For Jesus, the period of time
lasted 40 days and then the devil left Him for a season (Luke 4:13). Your
temptation likewise will not last forever. It will come at you thick and
furious, but when you steadfastly resist the devil he will flee from you (James
4:7, 1 Peter 5:9).
Fourth, the agent of temptation is your adversary, Satan.
For Jesus, no intermediate agent of testing was used — just the devil
himself. For you, the temptation may come through the world or your sinful
human nature. But, never forget, no matter how temptation comes to you the
devil stands behind the curtain. He is the puppeteer pulling the strings. Your
contest is with him (Ephesians 6:12).
Fifth, the atmosphere of temptation may involve frightful
dimensions. Mark is the only Gospel writer to note the presence of wild
animals. When the devil came to Jesus with the three temptations (as recorded
in Matthew 4 and Luke 4), he seems to have donned a rather civil appearance as
he often does when he wants to subtly beguile. But, temptation also may involve
a nightmarish time of danger. Jesus experienced in the wilderness the same
thing Daniel did in the lions’ den. What “wild beasts” are present in your own
time of temptation?
Sixth, God will protect you in the place of temptation as
you put your trust in Him. Arrayed against the wild beasts are the angels of
God. The angels did not assist Jesus in saying no to the devil, but they
protected Him from the other ravages the wilderness could inflict on Him.
Likewise, the Lord will protect you from that which seeks to tear you apart. He
has promised to provide a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13).
GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies
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