Posts Tagged ‘Temptation’

Luke 17:1-10 Forgiveness, Faith, and Obedience

September 25, 2009

Temptations to Sin

17:1 And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin [1] are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. [2] 3 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, 4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

Increase Our Faith

5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

Unworthy Servants

7 “Will any one of you who has a servant [3] plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? 8 Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, [4] and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? 9 Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; [5] we have only done what was our duty.’”

  • Humility.  This is the common thread that connects the sayings in this passage.  All true servants of Jesus Christ must learn humility.
  • Consider the warning about tripping people up.  “The little ones” may refer to the outcasts from the previous two chapters that Jesus was welcoming but whom the Pharisees were rejecting.
  • We will all be tested.  We will all face temptation.  Our faith will be tested, perhaps beyond what we can bear.  But we should be careful not to inflict such a test on someone else.  Consider the consequence.  When Jesus says it would be better to drown at the bottom of the sea with a large stone tied around your neck then face the punishment reserved for those who cause people to struggle in their faith.  It can’t be good.  This is a serious warning.
  • “Christian leaders and teachers need this warning on a regular basis.  It is possible for them to do and say things which make others think, ‘Well if that’s how God’s representatives behave, I suppose the whole things a waste of time!’  How can you avoid putting someone in that situation? Humility.” N.T. Wright
  • Now look at the call to repeated forgiveness.  To forgive someone once or twice is easy.  But to continually have to forgive someone over and over again can be quite challenging.  Why continue to forgive if the one forgiven keeps abusing your kindness?
  • Again the answer is humility.  To forgive someone is to become their servant, not their master.  It shouldn’t be harder and harder to forgive each time.  How often do we blow it and require God’s forgiveness?  All the time.  Does God struggle with forgiveness?  No!!!  This is the true source of humility.  God’s grace.  We must consider the amazing grace that God has demonstrated to us when we struggle to forgive others.
  • Of course the disciples realize that what Jesus is saying will require a lot of faith.  “Jesus is quick to respond.  It’s not great faith you need; it is faith in a great God.” N.T. Wright  This faith requires humility.  We are weak, God is strong.
  • “Finally, the shocking lesson that all we do, even the hard work we do for God, never for a moment puts God in our debt.” N.T. Wright  I am only a servant doing my duty.  When we serve God, we do it out of gratitude and not out of selfish ambition.  We should not desire to be acknowledged or praised before men but we should be content knowing that we will be acknowledged by God when the time comes.  Once again this requires great humility.
  • How humble am I?  This is not an easy question to answer.  The moment I say I am humble is the moment I am no longer really humble.   But am I causing others to stumble in their faith?  Am I struggling to forgive?  Do I have a little faith in a great and mighty God?  Do I have the heart of a servant?  These questions I can answer.

Luke 4:1-13 Temptation in the Wilderness

February 1, 2009

The Temptation of Jesus

4:1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and him only shall you serve.’”

And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
to guard you,’

11 and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

  • Jesus was not Superman.  He was human.
  • Jesus was truly a descendant of Adam.  Luke demonstrates this through the story of Jesus’ temptation.
  • To quote Wright, “If Jesus is the descendant of Adam, he must now face not only what Adam faced but the powers that have been unleashed through human rebellion and sin.”
  • Jesus faced two questions: 1.  What does it mean to be God’s son and be human?  2.  What sort of messiahship was he to pursue?
  • The three temptations are possible answers to these questions. 
  • Envision the temptation as not a conversation with a visible figure but a string of natural ideas in his own head.  They are all plausible, attractive, and seemingly make a lot of sense.  Does God want me to go hungry?  I am the true Lord of the world shouldn’t I just claim my sovereignty in one instance?  Why should I suffer, God will protect me?
  • In this passage are echoes of Adam and Eve in the garden.  There are also echoes of Israel in the wilderness.  Coming through the Red Sea, 40 years wandering in the wilderness, Israel grumbling about food, flirting with idolatry, and consistently putting God to the test.  Jesus like wise, coming through the waters of baptism must now answer the question of how he can truly liberate the world from the power of the devil?
  • He does it by defeating him at the most personal and intimate level.  The devil often tries to convince us that if we do good inn the public eye then we are OK.  It doesn’t matter what we do in private.  This is a lie.  As a disciple of Christ, filled with God’s spirit, I will be tested at every level of my life.  Jesus was tested this way and was victorious.
  • Jesus does not argue with temptation.  When we argue with temptation, we play with the idea in our heads until we are unable to resist it.
  • Jesus quotes scripture.  He quotes scripture from the story of Israel in the wilderness.  Jesus would succeed where the Israelites failed.
  • Loyalty to God is more important than physical needs.
  • Jesus will become the world’s true Lord humble service, not selfish ambition.
  • Jesus will demonstrate God’s power, but only for restoring other people to life not for protecting his own life.
  • Jesus wins this first battle but the enemy will return at another opportunity.  This victory gives Jesus the confidence to begin his public career.
  • I will be tempted.   I need to recognize the voice of temptation and differentiate it from the voice of God and use the bible to rebut the lies with the truth.
  • Another quote from N. T., “The christian discipline of fighting temptation is not about self hatred or rejecting parts of our God given humanity.  It is about celebrating God’s gift of full humanity and, like someone learning a musical instrument, discovering who to tune it and play it to its best possibility.”
  • Love and loyalty to God lies at the heart of our fight against temptation.
  • Only God can fulfill us, not the world, the flesh, nor the devil.