How To Know If Temptation’s Effects Are Good?

Temptations in the life of faith are not accidents; each temptation is part of a plan, a step in the progress of faith.

Oswald Chambers

Our faith, no matter what you believe, is tested every day. Each one of us faces challenges that either make or breaks our faith. Laziness is one of my biggest obstacles. And I noticed, that the more I write devotionals the more I get distracted by other irrelevant things.

My weapon, if I may say, is a prayer and reading God’s word. If I do not feel like writing, and I always get that feeling every day, I pause whatever else I am doing, leave my phone alone, grab my Bible and read. Sometimes few verses stick others do not.

But I always pray that the Holy Spirit will guide me as I read. For it is the Spirit that will provide the understanding of God’s words. Without the Holy Spirit’s guidance, one cannot comprehend the text in the Bible.

History to Understand God’s Word

The book of Matthew is one of the four Gospels of Jesus Christ. I had a question before, Why there have to be four Gospels? As I grew in studying the Bible, I came to understand that each book highlights a specific aspect of Jesus Christ.

Matthew, known as Levi before his conversion, was a tax collector. He wrote the longest among four Gospels with 28 chapters. Moreover, his writings focus on Jesus as the King of the Jews and the long-awaited Messiah that was prophesied by the prophets in the Old Testament.

Bible Reading

Today’s devotional reading is from the Gospel according to Matthew 4:1-11. Please, read our recent devotional from the Book of Deuteronomy 10:12-22: Love Thy God With All Your Being

The Role of The Holy Spirit

Matthew 4 starts with the Spirit leading Jesus to the desert to be tempted* (v. 1). Why would this be allowed by God to happen? That is one of the roles of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He directs us to situations where we can grow spiritually.

*The word “tempted” used in this chapter is a Greek word “peirazo” – it means to test (object), i.e. endeavour, scrutinize, entice, discipline: – assay, examine, go about, prove, tempt(-er), try. God never leads anyone into temptation in order to seduce.

The Holy Spirit leads the way to God, but that is not an easy ride. Jesus said if we want to follow Him, we should deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him (Matthew 16:24). In order for us to be with God, we should succeed in the temptations, transgression, tribulations and trials we may face.

But how can we thrive?

Temptations, Transgressions, Tribulations and Trials

The four T’s of Life. I know I just made this up. But seriously, here is how I understand the areas where the Holy Spirit works. Temptations are our desires to do something that we know is contradicting God’s commandment. Robert Ingersoll accurately illustrated temptations as “thick as the leaves in the forest, and no one can be out of reach of temptation unless he is dead.” 

Transgressions are sins whether it is of our own doing or of others do to us. The Holy Spirit shows us our sins through our conscience. Thus we have the responsibility to confess and repent from it. Forgiveness to others is the work of the Holy Spirit within us. If we do not forgive and hate others we walk in darkness (1 John 2:11).

Tribulations are circumstances that bring forth suffering and pain that we do not have any control of. Trials are the test of life it varies from light to heavy. St Augustine described these two T’s as “a chance to make reparation for our past faults and sins. On such occasions, the Lord comes to us like a physician to heal the wounds left by our sins. Tribulation is divine medicine.”

The Holy Spirit is also our means of how we can surpass these four T’s. But in order for it to happen, we must do our part and strengthen our spiritual bodies. How? By prayer, immersing in the scriptures and fasting.

Our stumbling block: The Tempter

Satan, the accuser (Revelation 12:10), and his demons are our stumbling blocks in the four T’s. He is sinister and sneaky. Moreover, he will try to grab as many souls as he can because he knows his reign on this earth is limited and coming to an end.

During the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11), Satan used all means to tempt Jesus, but he did not succeed. Because, even if Jesus was in human form, He is still stronger than Satan, because He was in the Spirit. The devil and his demons will tempt Christ-followers the same way they did with Jesus. They will attack our physical bodies (Matthew 4:3), corrupt God’s words (Matthew 4:6) and entice us with worldly gains (Matthew 4:9).

Therefore, we should strengthen our spiritual bodies, know more about the scriptures and not be attached to the world.

Reap the Harvest

When we surpass the four T’s and overcome the tempter we will be able to see the benefits of it all. Each time we succeed our faith matures and strengthens (James 1:3). Additionally, heaven rejoices when we repent (Luke 15: 10). And we become closer to God (Isaiah 41:10).

Do not be dismayed if you have fallen away from God. It is about how you grow during those falls and continue to pursue God’s will. Satan will always dishearten you because he does not want you to go back to God. Thus, do not let him win.

Reflection

This is the time for your journaling. Reflect on these questions. Ask the Holy Spirit to test your faith and your walk with Christ.

Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? — 2 Corinthians 13:5 KJV
  1. How do you deal with temptations?
  2. Do you ask for the help of the Holy Spirit during difficult times?
  3. Have you had tribulations in your life?
  4. Did it make you closer to Jesus or the opposite?
  5. Have you repented from your sins?
  6. Do you forgive others easily?
  7. Are you easily dishearten by the four T’s?

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we adore and glorify your name. Thank you for the Holy Spirit. That guides us and directs us in the path towards you. Lord Jesus thank you for the gift of salvation and the opportunity for us to serve and follow your ways.

May we be strengthened spiritually to carry on our journey towards the heavenly kingdom. Moreover, enable us to bring others to you as we walk with Jesus Christ.

All these we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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