Only one has ever walked upon the earth who never sinned; no one has ever walked upon the earth who was never tempted. This fact is our greatest source of strength when we must face temptations- knowing that Jesus was tempted and that He understands.
In Hebrews Chapter 2, verse 18, the inspired writer said, "For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to assist them that are tempted". In Chapter 4, verse 15, he said, "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin". There is a beautiful song that asks the question, "Does Jesus care when I've tried and failed to resist some temptation strong? When for my deep grief I find no relief, though my tears flow all the night long?". Then it answers, "O Yes, He cares, I know He cares, His heart is touched with my grief; When the days are weary, the long night dreary, I know my Saviour cares". He cares because he knows what it's like; He has been there, and He strengthens me in my hour of trial. The temptation of Jesus was not an accident; it was on purpose. It was real! He was not ptay-acting. He was not fighting a sham battle. In Matthew Chapter 4, verse 1, we are told that "Jesus was led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil". And when he was tempted, he was subjected to every type of temptation. In First John Chapter 2, verse 16, we learn that "all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world". Jesus was subjected to each of these areas of temptation.
In the account given in Matthew Chapter 4, verse 1 through 11, Jesus faced and conquered every temptation by the use of God's Word. In each instance, he said, "It is written!". When we fortify ourselves with a knowledge of God's Word, we have built the best defense against temptation. In Psalm 119, verse 11, the psalmist said, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee".
In 1897, Charles M. Sheldon published a book entitled "In His Steps". It became the most widely-read religious novel of all time. The characters in the book were challenged to ask the questions, "What Would Jesus Do?" as they were confronted with the questions, problems and temptations of life.
To ask this question sincerely, and to be guided by its answers when we must face temptation is our way to victory. What would Jesus do? The Bible says "For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that he should follow his steps; who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously; who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes you were healed". First Peter Chapter 2, verses 21 through 24.
We learn from this, and the other passages already mentioned, five key facts about temptation:
1. First - that temptation is not sin, but rather it is the giving in to temptation which becomes sin. Although it is not right to needlessly expose ourselves to unnecessary temptation, we should no more feel guilty because we are forced by circumstances to face temptation than Jesus did. The Bible says that he "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4: 15).
2. Second - we learn that temptation is not irresistible. Jesus is our perfect example to prove for all times that regardless of how powerful the temptation may be, it is possible to resist it if we really want to do so strongly enough. The Apostle Paul said, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it" (I Corinthians 10: 13).
3. Third - we learn from this same passage that temptation is universal. In Paul's own words it is "common to man". The temptations which you may now face are not unique. The same kind of temptation has been faced and successfully overcome by thousands of other people and this passage points out that we are merely fooling ourselves if we believe it cannot be overcome in our own lives as well.
4. Fourth - we learn that a knowledge of the word of God and a love for it are the keys to resisting temptation in our lives just as it was in the life of Jesus. 5. Fifth - our efforts to resist temptation will always be rewarded if we respond in keeping with the teachings of the scriptures. The Bible says, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4: 7).
If you are facing some special temptation at this time, think over these basic teachings of the Bible and realize that, with God's help, you can overcome this problem. One of Satan's most effective methods is to make us feel that the situation is hopeless, when in reality it never is.