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How To Use The Word To Overcome Desire And Temptation

Desire and temptation are powerful emotions characterized by a longing for something or a hope for a specific outcome. In life, we often yearn for various things such as a fulfilling job, a luxurious car, a loving family, wealth, and more. Yet, excessive desire can sometimes misguide us, prompting unwise decisions. Let’s explore instances from the Bible where desire resulted in impulsive and extreme actions, followed by a strategy Jesus provided to help us navigate desire’s influence and stay on track in life.

1. The Temptation Of Eve

Many events transpired in the garden of Eden, but the pivotal tale that made its way into the Bible revolves around the Fall, which was driven by desire. Eve’s decision to eat the fruit from the tree in the center of the garden stemmed from her longing for wisdom; she perceived the tree as both nourishing and visually appealing.

Every day, our senses are bombarded with images that trigger desires for things beyond our reach. This narrative delves deep into the ongoing struggle between our visual desires and the teachings we receive. Eve grappled with conflicting thoughts about the tree based on God’s instructions and her yearning for wisdom, ultimately succumbing to the latter. As a consequence, God imposed a punishment so profound that it took millennia to reconcile.

2. Esau Selling His Birth Right for Bread and Stew

In Genesis 25:19-34, we learn about twin brothers Jacob and Esau, the sons of Isaac. Esau, the elder brother, was a skilled hunter, whereas Jacob was more inclined towards domestic activities. One day, returning from hunting, Esau found Jacob preparing stew and requested some. Jacob proposed a deal to Esau, offering food in exchange for his birthright and an oath. Hungry, Esau agreed. This impulsive decision to satisfy his hunger led Esau to trade his birthright for a simple meal, a decision he would come to regret.

3. How Jesus Overcame Temptation

In both instances, we witness how desires can alter the entire course of life. Jesus provides us with a valuable strategy to resist desires that may lead us astray. Matthew 4:1-11 recounts the event when Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness. Following a forty-day fast, the tempter challenged Jesus by saying, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread.” Jesus responded by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, stating, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

The Bread Of Life

Bread, being a fundamental and affordable food worldwide, is essential for survival. Just like Esau, Jesus was hungry, emphasizing that nourishing our spirits with the word of God is as crucial as feeding our bodies.

Jesus did not need to turn stones into bread because he himself is the bread of life (John 3:35). By nurturing our spirits through prayer, fasting, and reflecting on scripture, we can better control our desires. Despite feeling hungry during the test, Jesus’ spirit remained strong, having fasted and prayed for 40 days. He wielded the word of God as a tool against temptation.

4. Detecting the Tempter’s Tactic

This exchange between Jesus and the tempter reveals several insights:

  • The enemy’s first tactic is always to challenge God’s word, as he is known as the father of lies. This is evident in his interaction with Eve, where he falsely claimed, “You will certainly not die,” contradicting what God had said about eating from the tree in the middle of the garden.
  • Similarly, we see the same deceptive approach in his conversation with Jesus. The tempter questions Jesus, saying, “If you are the Son of God, perform this sign.” It’s crucial to remember that before Jesus faced this test, he was baptized, and a voice from heaven declared in Matthew 3:17: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Therefore, it’s not that the tempter was unaware that Jesus was the Son of God; rather, his goal is to sow seeds of doubt and confusion by challenging God’s word to leading us astray.
  • Jesus response is a quotation of the word of God. Him quoting the word signifies that the word of God is supreme. What God says becomes truth, his word is final, cannot be altered nor put to the test. Psalms 138:2 supports this: “for you have exalted your word above all Your name.”

5. Final Remarks

In our lives, the tempter will use the same tactics seen with Eve and Jesus. Jesus showed that God’s powerful word is the key to resisting temptations. Additionally it is described in Hebrews 4:12 as “alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword.” It serves as our strongest defense against desires, falsehoods, and the enemy’s deceitful schemes. Paul, in Ephesians 6:10-17, outlined the full armor of God necessary for battle. Verse 17 emphasizes the importance of wearing salvation as a helmet and wielding the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. This divine word is a potent offensive weapon that can thwart any attacks aimed at us.

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