Saturday, 18 September 2010

His Temptation and Ours

This was the title of Oswald Chambers “My Utmost for His Highest’ entry for 18th Sept. It started my thoughts running in a different but not not contradictory direction. It is helpful, I think, to consider the nature of the saints’ temptations; and by ‘saint’ in this context I mean the regenerate. Hebrews declares that “he was tempted in all points as we are,” Heb 4:15. He was, we are... but who is ‘we’? Historically it is the group made up of the writer of Hebrews and his readers. If we remember how the writer described his readers, Heb 6:4–5, they are clearly ‘the regenerate’ or as I shall call them from now on ‘the saints’. So this group really includes all the saints AND Christ himself; there is a kind of temptation that is unique to the ‘sons of God’. The Hebrews passage is not telling us that Christ experienced every possible temptation that mankind has experienced but a particular kind of temptation, the temptation of the sons of God.

There was a moment in Christ’s life when God publicly confirmed him to be ‘the Son of God’. His temptations, as recorded in the gospel narratives, were the direct result of this ‘witness of God’ that he was who he was. “And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,” Luke 4:1 KJV Luke makes the connection very clear. The Temptation in the Wilderness was not just the temptation of an ordinary man but of a man identified as ‘son o f God’ and who was ‘full of the Holy Spirit’; this is the temptation of a ‘saint’; a holy one.

According to Oswald Chambers, “Until we are born again, the only kind of temptation we understand is that mentioned by James - ‘Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed." But by regeneration we are lifted into another realm where there are other temptations to face’. The thing to notice about the wilderness temptations of the Son of God is that his temptations were entirely external; they did not come from inside but from an alien spirit on the outside. These temptations did not come ‘from’ a heart that was ‘crooked beyond all other crookednesses and incurable’ Jer 17:9 but they came ‘to’ a heart that was in perfect alignment with God.

When we have become ‘saints’ by regeneration and God has borne witness with our spirits that we are ‘children of God’, and we are living in the 'fulness of the Spirit', it will not mean the ‘end of temptation’ but as OC expresses it ‘ regeneration we are lifted into another realm where there are other temptations to face’. Our defence against an external enemy will need to be very different to our defence against an internal enemy.

It is a vital element of spiritual warfare that we "know our enemy".

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