Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Battle in the Wilderness: Avoiding Opportunity (Luke 4:13, 1 Peter 5:8,9)

When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time. (Luke 4:13 NASB)

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. (1 Peter 5:8, 9 NASB)

What a relief it must have been when the time of testing was over! How wonderful for the tempter to be through for a while! It's important to understand, however, that the devil had only taken a break from tempting "until an opportune time."  Jesus had fasted in the wilderness for forty days. From the devil's perspective, He was at a weak point, at least physically. Unfortunately for the tempter, Jesus may have been weak physically, but His spirit was strong, and He drew on the truth He had stored in His heart.

Peter tells us that the enemy of our soul "prowls about like a roaring lion" looking for easy prey to trap and defeat. The Message describes him as "ready to pounce". Times of physical weakness are certainly an opportune time for temptation. We are vulnerable to temptation when we are tired, sick, or  physically uncomfortable in some way. We are also vulnerable to the devil's temptation when we are weak spiritually. When we encounter disappointment, grief, anger, or failure, we often find ourselves snuggling up to those emotions rather than our Heavenly Father. It puts us in a terribly vulnerable spot.

If the enemy is watching for a weak moment, ready to poune on us and defeat us, how can we defend ourselves? Peter said we are to be on the alert. Pay attention and recognize those thoughts that clearly do not come from God because they are not consistent with His nature, and resist. We do not have to follow every impulse that comes our way.

We also need to be faithful to do what Jesus clearly had done. Study and memorize Scripture. He had a ready answer for every temptation because He was prepared in advance. He also paid attention to those Scriptures when the Spirit brought them to mind. It would have been easy to ignore that verse about not living by bread alone and turn the stone into a loaf of bread. Instead, when that truth came to His mind by the prompting of the Spirit, he listened and used it to His advantage.

Pray today that, at every temptation, the truth our  loved ones learned as children will come to mind. Pray too that they will listen to the prompting of the Spirit and make right choices. Pray that, in making better, wiser choices, they will be drawn back to our Lord. Pray, too, that we will be faithful to obey as well.