Four Men Face Temptation; Part Two: Moses and Jesus
1 John 2:15-17 - "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever."
The Bible has much to say about temptation because the Bible speaks much of sin. Since all accountable people have sinned (Romans 3:25), all accountable people have faced temptation. In two articles and in the lives of four men, we are looking at 1) the sources of temptation, 2) how these individuals overcame temptation, and 3) what their endurance brought to their lives.
Moses is described as a man of great faith. In Hebrews 11:24-27 - "By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible."
God's good earth provides an abundance of resources to meet our physical needs. God's word reveals an explanation of the origin, mission, and destiny of every person. Our needs are supplied by a sensitive and loving God. Moses was reared in Pharaoh's household by Pharaoh's own daughter, where the temptation to enjoy a life of pleasure and indulgence to every desire was before him. The Egyptians had gods whom (they believed) would supply every need in this and the afterlife. Moses, with the help of the true God, was able to resist the temptation to "enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season" by choosing a higher calling. God has given us the power to choose--to look beyond temporary satisfaction to that which is higher and pleasing to God. Moses chose to cast his lot with people serving the true God--"to suffer affliction with the people of God" rather than yield to the immediate gratification that the royal Egyptian household could offer.
Moses' choice made him a hero among God's people. He became their leader by God's appointment and was able to lead the people to the edge of the promised land. He was able to ascend Mount Nebo and see the boundaries of the land "flowing with milk and honey." He was able to place his hands on his successor, Joshua, and ensure that his appointment was the will of God. Deuteronomy 34:10-12 contains the inspired commendation of this man who faced and endured temptation - "But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, in all the signs and wonders which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all his servants, and in all his land, and by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel."
The final (and greatest) example of facing and enduring temptation was the Man Jesus. It is important that we look at the temptation of Jesus as an example of what we can do. He was the Son of God, but He was, and is, one who suffered in "the days of His flesh" (Hebrews 5:7). We are assured "For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted" (Hebrews 2:18). Jesus was tempted by the devil himself. He was tempted by the "lust of the flesh", the "lust of the eyes", and "the pride of life".
In the first temptation, Satan approaches a hungry Jesus. He has been without food forty days and nights. Satan says, "If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." What a temptation! Jesus could, in a single act, demonstrate His power and satisfy His hunger. The temptation was to despair of His Father's goodness and providential care and take matters into His own hands. Jesus responded to this temptation by saying, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." The One who could miraculously feed 5000 and 4000 would not create one meal for Himself.
In the second temptation, Jesus was taken by Satan to the pinnacle of the temple and told, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down." This temptation was to try God, to evade personal responsibility, and to take a "short cut" to proving Himself as the Son of God. The Lord answered, "It is written again, 'you shall not tempt the Lord your God.' " The end did not justify the means. Jesus would not yield to temptation and circumvent the plan of God.
The third temptation involved a view of "all the kingdoms of the world and their glory," and the offer: "All these things I will give you if you will fall down and worship me." The response of Jesus was, "Away with you, Satan! for it is written, 'you shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve' " (all temptation quotations from Matthew 4). Jesus could have had then what He eventually would have, when the "Kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ" (Revelation 11:15). The temptation of ambition, to "have it all and to have it now" was overcome by our Lord. He would not sacrifice principle for the whole world. The world was not enough for Him to violate God's will and worship Satan!
Is there any doubt in our minds that He "was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15)? The writer of Hebrews uses this achievement of Jesus as his central argument to say that Jesus is our perfect High Priest. He can fully intercede with us before God as One who was fully man, yet who endured every temptation which Satan could use against Him.
What a Savior we have, who leaves us an example, that we should "follow His steps" (1 Peter 2:21)!