“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.” -Matthew 4:1, NLT
There is something so powerful about being stopped in your tracks by the Word of God. It has happened to me countless times over the years, yet I never tire of it.
I remember the first time Matthew 4:1 had that effect on me. I remember who I was with, where I was sitting, and even the discussion we were having. I remember because I was so shocked by what I had just read. It was like a curtain had blown back for a second and I glimpsed a side of my God I didn’t know existed.
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.”
What? Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness? I couldn’t believe I’d missed it before, but there it was. Jesus didn’t just bump into Satan while walking through the desert. The devil didn’t sneak up on Him when His Father wasn’t watching. No, this was a divinely inspired season, planned and arranged by the Father.
After that fact sunk in for a moment, a second startling thought came to my mind, “The Holy Spirit is still leading us into wildernesses to be tempted by the devil.” Although a bit disconcerting at first, a calm settled over me as I realized that there is a very real, very important purpose in our times of testing. We are not just floating around, open prey to the enemy. There are seasons appointed by the Father when we will be tested by the devil for a greater, much greater purpose. A purpose so important, in fact, that our Maker wants to make sure we don’t miss it, so He leads us there.
Proverbs 17:3 tells us, “Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the Lord tests the heart.” Our Creator does not do anything randomly. He always has an objective. He always has a plan. And part of our journey will include tests of the heart.
With this backdrop set, the Holy Spirit continued to build in me an understanding of His refining fire of love in the coming years – through the Word, through trials, through His faithfulness.
Verses like James 1:3-4 set a joyful goal before me:
“Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.”
Many other scriptures gave strength to endure:
“For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin, no matter how it comes or where it leads) has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear].
But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.” - I Corinthians 10:13, AMP
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace [Who imparts all blessings and favor], Who has called you to His [own] eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen, and settle you.” - I Peter 5:10, AMP
We are not tempted by God – God is incapable of being tempted by evil and He Himself tempts no one (James 1:13). Rather, we are tempted when our own evil desires and passions draw us away. Our Creator does not look at us in our sin and error and weakness and throw up His hands in despair, however. In fact, He is not even surprised. He knows we need a Savior and a Redeemer. And so He leads us to opportunities of healing and freedom – seasons where light will shine in our dark corners, painful and embarrassing as it is, yet with the promise of mercy and grace from a Savior Who understands, personally, the assaults of temptation. A Savior Who overcame all things and is there to help us overcome, as well.
What hope. What amazing wisdom. What love.
“Blessed (happy, to be envied) is the man who is patient under trial and stands up under temptation, for when he has stood the test and been approved, he will receive [the victor’s] crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him.” - James 1:12, AMP
Originally posted on Amy Layne Litzelman. Ready more by Amy at: http://AmyLayneLitzelman.com/
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