apostle, bio-dome, desert, devil, fasting, gospel, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, John the Baptist, Paul, Peter, prayer, prosperity gospel, roots, Satan, strength, temptation, testing, trees, trial, tribulation, wilderness, wind
Luke 4:1-2 ESV
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry.
A somewhat common misconception among Christians (and, actually, people in general) is that bad things do not happen to good people.
Even people who claim to know that bad things can happen to good people, or that good things happen to bad people, often contradict themselves when they wonder aloud what someone did to deserve the things that happened to them.
In this case, the Holy Spirit actually lead Jesus out into the desert to be tempted by the devil.
If this aspect of the gospel account was not so often ignored, then the prosperity gospel would not be as popular as it is. Maybe if Jesus had more faith He could have avoided being tempted by the devil? Maybe He ought to have “sown a seed” offering of His money into John the Baptist’s ministry?
Jesus did exactly what He ought to have done: follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit led Him into the wilderness, where He fasted forty days and was tempted by the devil.
Why did God allow Jesus to be tempted in this way? Testing makes us stronger. As the saying goes, A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner.
In the 1980’s a bio-dome was constructed in the Arizona desert. The intent was to artificially create perfect conditions for life, but the trees kept falling over once they reached a certain height. Finally the bio-dome scientists figured out that the trees needed wind. The wind put pressure on the trees, which in turn grew deeper roots and grew into strong trees that were hard to topple.
The idea that some have that God protects believers in the sense that nothing bad will ever happen to them is not only naive, but completely unbiblical. The Apostle Peter said, Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed (1 Peter 4:12-13, ESV).
We must understand that if we are friends of God, the devil is our enemy and he will work against us. Job lost his children, his health, and his wealth. He was not being punished by God for sin, he was being attacked by Satan because he was blameless and upright, fearing God and turning away from evil (Job 1:8). Through it all he held fast to his integrity (Job 27:1-6) and faith that God would deliver him (Job 19:25). In the end God healed Job, and gave him more children and twice the wealth he possessed before Satan attacked him (Job 42:10-17).
There are no Scriptures that promise we can avoid trials and tribulations in this life. On the contrary, Jesus promised we would have tribulation! In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world (John 16:33b, ESV).
We are never promised a stress and disaster free life, but we are promised victory!
The Apostle Paul wrote, So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison (2 Corinthians 4:16-17, ESV),
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Romans 8:16-18, ESV).
If we want to share in Christ’s glory, we’ve got to share in His suffering. If we are truly friends of God the devil will make sure we suffer.
We can expect suffering in this life, but more importantly, we can expect victory through Jesus Christ!