“Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” – Hebrews 2.18From David
Continuing from yesterday, what is temptation? See what the verse above says: “he himself suffered when he was tempted”. Temptation is the experience of facing a correct course of action, or pattern of thought, when to our mind comes an alternative that is less painful and less costly (at least in the short term). However it is also wrong. The test/temptation is this: will we take the less costly option even though it is wrong – or will we take the option which involves suffering of some sort or another?
How Jesus helps
Hebrews 2 tells us that Jesus helps us in this temptation. But someone might say, “I don’t see how Jesus is much help to me – he was perfect, surely temptation wasn’t difficult for him.” However, when you understand this link between suffering and testing, it becomes clearer.
The temptation/testing which Jesus endured was greater than anything which we will face for two reasons: he had a choice and the suffering he chose was far greater than anything we might face. He had a choice: he chose to undergo suffering for sin – unlike us he could have avoided it. His suffering was greater: the level of suffering for sin was so much greater – he gave up a perfect relationship with his Father and suffered the punishment for the sins of all God’s people. So in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus experienced a level of testing we will never experience or comprehend. In his full humanity he quailed at what was facing him – everything screamed at him to run away – take the easy way out – run into the arms of what is wrong – but he chose not to.
So Jesus knows exactly the experience you have when you go through testing: the feeling of being pulled in two directions; the allure of choosing the easier but wrong way; the physical exhaustion of temptation and its loneliness. He really understands.
Jesus shows us the way
Earlier in the chapter (v.14) we are told that Jesus has broken the power of the tempter, because through his death he has broken the power of death. This is the way to defeat temptation – to pass the test. Jesus passed the test, because he knew that death was not the end, that whatever temptation promised, it wasn’t as wonderful as eternal life. To put it another way, the hope of eternal life was more tempting!
And that is the other way in which Jesus’s death helps us with our times of testing. Through his death our sins are atoned for (forgiven/paid). As a result we have that hope of eternal life for ourselves. So when temptation comes try this prayer:
“Lord Jesus, you know what I am feeling right now – how I want to do what is wrong. Thank you that you understand. Please give me your strength to pass this time of testing. Help me to be more tempted by eternal life, than I am by this thing before me. May I be more tempted by following you, than the momentary pleasure of turning from you to follow this pleasure.”