I can not count the number of times that I have heard sermons and lessons on Christ being tempted in the wilderness. We learn how Christ was tempted in every way that we are, so He understands. (Lust of the flesh – bread from stones, Lust of the eyes – Satan would give him the wealth of the world and the pride of life – if he was the Son of God he deserved to be treated as such) We hear about how Christ used scripture to resist the devil and how this shows us how important it is to memorize scripture. (Which of course it is, but I digress.) But as I was reading through the passage in Luke this week, my mind began to ponder the final sentence of this passage. “When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time.” Luke 4:13
I realize that all to often we, . . . I, fail to see that Christ temptation was not a one time thing. Too often this passage is breezed through and the cliche answers are given. And while these answers may be valid and helpful in our lives, temptation does not end that simply for us, and it did not end that simply for Christ. While scripture does not specifically tell us of these other temptation, we can see them between the lines. When he became angry with the money changers, I am sure the temptation was there to do more than simply overturn their tables. When in the garden, the temptation to run away could not be more clear. While hanging on the cross, can any of us doubt that the devil whispered in His ear, “Are they really worth it?” No the temptation surely did not end with the three described in Luke 4.
I know that we give people comfort as we teach that Jesus has been tempted in every way that we have. We give people strength when we teach them that God has given us the scriptures that we can call upon to resist the devil. But we do a grave injustice if we fail to remind people that the devil is not so easily discouraged. I Peter 5:8 tells us that “the devil prowls about like a roaring lion seeking those that he might devour.” He may leave, but he waits “until an opportune time” to return. While these opportune times may come at any moment, sometimes out of the blue and often when we least expect them, we must always be on guard. (“Self controlled and alert” 1 Peter 5:8) We can not think that once we have resisted the devil and he has fled (James 4:7) that it is over. This is the very opportune time that the devil is looking for, when we let our guard down, when we say to ourselves, “I have stood up to that temptation and it is behind me. I do not need to worry about it anymore.”
Only when we stand in glory, before our Lord and Savior will all temptations finally be set behind us once and for all. Until then, we must always stand on guard because temptation is not a one time thing. But we need not fear these temptations for we have our victory in Christ. He has given word to keep in our hearts so we do not sin against him. He has faced every temptation faced by man, and emerged victorious. Most importantly, he has not left us alone. He has granted to those who believe in Him, the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. So while we may continue to face temptations in this life, we know that we already have victory in Christ Jesus.