A Rare Retreat

Facing Temptation Like Christ

By Ron Benson
  • February 18, 2015

When Jesus took a retreat in the wilderness for 40 days, it was no picnic.

When we think of retreats, we envision friends and food, games and laughter, good times of learning and fellowship. Or if you’re into solitude, perhaps a wilderness retreat brings quietude, pensiveness, and moments alone with God.

But the wilderness retreat of Jesus, recorded in Matthew 4:1-11, is a crisis—a period not of keen fellowship or quiet meditation, but of trial and temptation. If we experienced the kind of retreat that Jesus did, we wouldn’t want to “retreat” ever again.

Jesus encounters Satan himself, and the Tempter does his work on the King of kings. Jesus takes the full-on assault of the devil’s best attempts and walks away victorious. His example in the wilderness teaches us the following truths about our own encounters with temptation.

If Jesus was tempted—out there, alone—then there is no place or time when temptation can’t occur.

There’s not a room in which to hide and no magic phrase to quote that can prevent the enemy from attempting to throw us off course. I’ve been a pastor for over 30 years, but one Sunday as a young preacher, I made a startling realization: I was being tempted as I delivered the sermon! In the moment, I thought, Really? Right now? If the Savior Himself encountered temptation while alone with God, then it can happen to us, too.

If Jesus was tempted, then no amount of holiness can ward off temptation.

Jesus was perfect, completely righteous, but that did not prevent Satan’s strongest volleys. Our best behavior will not prevent temptation, and in fact, may attract the enemy. In my life, temptation is often fiercest when I’m feeling successful in my walk with Jesus. Like Job, Satan may target righteous people simply because he wants to prove them unrighteous.

If Jesus was tempted—and successfully resisted—then we can use the same tools He used to reflect the enemy’s darts.

Jesus used His knowledge of Scripture and His reverence for God to thwart the attacks. Even though Satan attempted to use Jesus’ own identity as a tool of temptation, Jesus refused the enticements by appealing to the Word of God and the character of His Father.

Jesus was tempted as a man, and so His tools are ours as well. Having God’s Word enables us to resist the tempter, and our love and devotion to God helps us fend off Satan’s darts.

If Jesus was tempted—without sinning—we can have confidence that there is a way to resist the same attacks.

God has promised that we will not experience a temptation we cannot face (1 Cor 10:13). And He has promised that, like Jesus, we will have the tools to escape the enemy’s offenses.

You might be experiencing a “retreat” like Jesus’, with temptation all around. Know that His example sets the stage for success. Temptation is inevitable, but victory is possible in Christ.

Dr. Stanley teaches us how the Word of God defends us against the enemy’s attacks in his article “When Temptation Knocks.”

Related Topics:  Temptation  |  Purity  |  Evil

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1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

2 And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.

3 And the tempter came and said to Him, If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread."


5 Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple,

6 and said to Him, If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, `HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU'; and `ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.'"

7 Jesus said to him, On the other hand, it is written, `YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.'"

8 Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory;

9 and he said to Him, All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me."

10 Then Jesus said to him, Go, Satan! For it is written, `YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'"

11 Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.

13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

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