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Opportune Timing

When are you the weakest and most susceptible to be tempted to sin?  Is it after a great victory or just before it?  Is it when you are physically, mentally, and emotionally drained?  What about when you are praying and seeking God for answers?  Does temptation come at church?  The answer is yes to all of the above.  Scripture says, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).  Satan has got his eyes peeled for an opportune time to take you down.  He is methodically planning his next attack on your life waiting on the perfect moment to strike.  The irony of satan’s attacks is he always attacks when is best for him, never for us.  It is always when we are most off guard, most defeated, most distracted and most unaware.  He truly wants to “steal, kill, and destroy but Jesus’ purpose is to give you an abundant life” (John 10:10).

Most have heard about Jesus being tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4, Luke 4).  I had heard that story since I was a kid and took its content for granted.  One day I was reading it and certain portions of those scriptures opened my eyes to things I had never before seen (mostly because I had not read it but had just relied on someone else to tell me the story – hence the importance of reading the Bible for yourself.)  I always thought Jesus was only tempted after His forty days of fasting in the wilderness.  However, Luke 4:1-2 says, “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.”  Did you catch that?  Jesus was tempted for forty days AND at the end of them.  During a very spiritually intense time in His life satan attacked Him.  I also noticed He was still tempted even being full of the Holy Spirit.  At our greatest spiritual moment satan still is relentless.  Think about this:  after Jesus Baptism and setting apart for His ministry and calling is when the devil came to tempt Him.  Satan attacks at our greatest moments in life, not just our weakest.

Satan also attacks at our weakest moments.  Jesus had fasted forty days.  The longest I’ve ever fasted was a few days.  Sometimes if I skip breakfast or coffee I get a little foul.  Angry plus hungry equals hangry.  Seriously, Jesus, being fully human yet fully God, was weak after not eating.  Satan tempted Him with food.  In fact, satan tempted Jesus with the same things he tempts us with today – he has no new tricks.  1 John 2:16 says these are called the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.  Every time Jesus quoted Scripture back at the devil – from Deuteronomy.  What if all you had to combat the devil was Deuteronomy?  How would you do?  Once satan even quoted Scripture back at Jesus from the Psalms.  Satan loves to twist Scripture to mess us up.  We have to make sure we know the Word and use it every day to overcome the enemy.

I noticed two more major points in Jesus’ temptation.  Jesus did resist the devil and he did flee (James 4:7) but the devil didn’t give up his attacks.  He went away and waited for another opportune time to tempt Jesus (Luke 4:13).  When you defeat the enemy, stay on guard – he will try again.  Satan left Jesus and then something remarkable happened – the angels came to minister to Him (Matthew 4:11).  You are not alone and powerless.  Jesus will give you a way out of temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13) and His Spirit will empower you greatly (John 16:13-14).  The devil will flee when you resist him but don’t forget the most important part of is not resisting him – it is submitting to God.  “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

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Stephen and his wife Haley have called Arkansas home all of their lives. Stephen has served in several ministry roles over the last 25 years and as a lead pastor for the last 8 years. Stephen attended Williams Baptist College and earned a BA in Biblical Studies from Ouachita Baptist University, an MA, MDiv, and DMin in Christian Leadership and Pastoral Ministries from Liberty University. When not pastoring, Stephen enjoys running, cycling, reading, writing, camping, fishing, and spending time with his family.

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