Early on in my Christian walk, I started to implicitly doubt the humanity of Christ.  Now don’t get me wrong, it was not a heresy that I was consciously and publicly proclaiming like an end-times zealot picking out a random date in May or a hipster New York Times bestseller wannabe.  Not at all.  But the laziness and flaws in my logic reached certain conclusions about Christ nonetheless.  For many years, I enjoyed joking about my flawed conclusions by saying that it was quite obvious Christ did not sin and that He was sinless.  Why was it quite obvious?  Because He was Jesus Christ!  The all-powerful, all-knowing, Savior of mankind, Son of God, co-equal part of the Trinity!  If I had those kinds of credentials, I would be sinless as well!  My flawed logic went something like this:

  • Jesus is sinless –> I am NOT Jesus –>  THEREFORE I cannot be sinless.
  • Jesus is God  –> I am not God –>THEREFORE I cannot be like Jesus

These errors in logic, my faulty understanding, prevented me from truly examining Jesus.  It prevented me from grasping His humanity and understanding how He was tempted in all ways.  And because of this flawed logic, I struggled in many areas of temptation for much longer than I needed.   As we face our daily life and our individual circumstances, how do we battle temptation?  Do we look toward inferior models and examples in our attempt to have victory over sin?  When we are tempted to sin, we fail to use Christ as our example because we ignore His full humanity.  Virtually all of the same conditions we face prior to temptations, Christ faced as well.  There is no temptation that we will face that Christ has not already faced and conquered.  And since this is true, Christ must be our model in the face of temptation.

The list of Christ’s human attributes is quite extensive covering everything from body, mind, soul, spirit and emotions.  He was weary, thirsty, hungry, weak and experienced death.  He increased in wisdom and learned obedience.  His soul was troubled and sorrowful.  He marveled, loved, wept, was joyful, angry, indignant…and was tempted in every respect as we are (Heb. 4:15).  But He did NOT sin – the one key different between His humanity and our own.

If one looks toward the Biblical passage in Matthew 4:1-11, where Jesus is brought by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to fast for 40 days and 40 nights and then be tempted by Satan, and we miss his humanity….we miss everything!  We see three specific temptations by Satan (an appeal to a physical appetite, an appeal to personal gain and an appeal to pure power) that are archetypes for temptations that we see on a daily basis.  Jesus had fasted for 40 days/nights…he was HUNGRY!  He had a physical need to eat.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that!  The temptation came from how to solve the problem and in how to satisfy the need.  Jesus could have utilized his own power to turn the stones into bread and completely satisfy His hunger.  He resisted, through the use of Scripture, and leaned on His Father’s strength to provide.  He could have jumped off the roof of the temple, plunging 450 feet to sure doom, only to have saved himself with nary a scratch.  But that would have been twisting of God’s word to test God’s will – all for personal gain.   He could have bowed down and worshipped Satan, became ruler of this world (which was perfectly in Satan’s power to give away), avoided the pain, agony and humiliation of the cross and more efficiently became god of this age!  But none of that was the Father’s plan for Him.

So in Christ’s victory over temptation, including a victory over a direct appeal to personal gain, I see my own failure, even recent ones.  I encounter situations, especially in my career, where I want to promote myself, draw attention to myself, bring glory to myself, by any means possible, and even sometimes by sinful means.  I allow myself to think that I have to talk like, act like and think like the world in order to gain on this world, move up, be recognized.  I lie to myself and think that there is no God-honoring way for me to accomplish that.  I ignore Christ himself, in His full humanity, and how given the opportunity to satisfy an appetite or bring glory to Himself or display his power, he NEVER wavered from the Father’s plan.  Christ was tempted in all ways…just as we are.  But as Hebrews 4:14-15 states:

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Yet without sin.  A powerful example for us to follow.  We are to walk in the same way He walked (1 John 2:6), we are to change into His likeliness (2 Cor. 3:18) and be conformed to His image (Rom. 8:29).  And Christ serves as THE example that we should follow (1 Pet 2:21).  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God the Father and God the Son want me to have victory the next time I want to self-promote myself  by sinful means, fulfill an appetite in an improper way, strive for power that destroys others or give in to a wide variety of temptation.

 Who is your model when you face temptation?

Who is your example when faced with sin?

On whose strength are you relying on to have victory?