In Matthew 4, Mark 1, and Luke 4 an event from Christ’s life is recorded which details three temptations that He endured directly from Satan. While there are other places within the Scriptures that seem to imply temptations were prevalent in His life (Luke 22:42), only this occasion directly shows Christ interacting with Satan one on one. It is a very intriguing passage, because it proves to us without doubt that Christ went through the same hardships, trials, and temptations that we go through each and every day. Christ also shows us that with God’s help we can avoid sin. No one forces us into sin, and God’s precepts give us guidance in how to overcome temptation. Therefore, we are left with no excuse for sin. There are many such lessons we could draw from this account. I want to notice five important points that I hope will cause us to think about temptations and trials in our own life.
The offerings of animal sacrifice were preparatory for the coming of Christ. They at once demonstrated the need of blood to atone for sin, and the insufficiency of animal sacrifice to bring about the desired change in man’s condition.
For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.
For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins.
But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. (Heb.10:1-3)
Flesh can refer to the skin with its substrate of tissue, tendon and muscle, or it can be a synonym for the body as a whole. The Bible also uses the term for the being of mankind as in; “. . the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us . .”(John 1:4) Jesus did not become spirit. The Word was not made soul. Those expressions weren’t used because they are inadequate for a general description. Flesh defines us though we are body, soul, and spirit. It defines us because it is the most visible to us. The flesh requires a universe to inhabit; an earth with sky, dry land and seas, night and day, vegetation, insects, animals, fish, sun, moon and stars.
In court a man might claim he hit another fellow because he was defending himself. The judge or jury would look through his case, and if they felt he was “justified,” they might proclaim him not guilty. We use this word justification frequently in relation to our justice system. A man might commit an act that at any other time would be considered against the law, but if he is justified in doing so, the judgment will prove him free from guilt.
In Romans 6:1 Paul asks the following as a follow up to his previous point, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” Chapter five explained that through Adam sin entered the world, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” Sin is the breaking of law. “For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.” There was offense before the covenant given through Moses. Sin was in the world, and death by that sin.
A couple of months ago there was a good deal of discussion concerning what God requires of us, if anything, in order to obtain salvation. I was following the discussion, and one of the participants appeared to be confusing unmerited favor and unconditional salvation. I would like to spend a little time discussing these two concepts. The salvation that is from the Lord cannot be earned, therefore it is unmerited.
Saving faith is sadly an integral part of many mainstream churches today. It is also deadly to people that believe it and those they teach. As a concept, it is derived from the Calvinist doctrines of Unconditional Election and Perseverance of the Saints. To sum up the concept of ‘saving faith’ in a few words; it is something that the predestined to election receive upon hearing the word.
Unless the Lord comes first, we will all face death. For some, death comes in their youth- a tragic accident or a deadly disease. Others will live out a long and fruitful life dying quietly in their sleep. None of us know how or when death will take us but we all know it will- “For the living know they will die…”
In the letter to the Romans, after he had documented his own struggle with sin, Paul proclaimed, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” In the 38th Psalm David wrote, “For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.” In the 40th Psalm, “For innumerable evils have surrounded me; My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to look up; They are more than the hairs of my head; Therefore my heart fails me.” Peter told Christ in Luke 5:8, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” Paul, David and Peter- These are all men that could be described as men of faith. They were men who followed the Lord, who did His works, who kept the faith and all three lamented of their sin. Paul called himself a wretched man. David proclaimed that his iniquities numbered beyond the number of hairs on his head. Peter described himself as a sinful man.
The word “grace” appears 18 times in the Old Testament. It appears 125 times in the New Testament. A striking change. What accounts for this? The apostles tell us. John said that “the law was given through Moses, but grace…came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Paul declared that Christians are “not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14, 15).