Looking at that fruit dangling from a forbidden tree once caused a ruckus in the Garden of Eden. Giving in to temptation, we lost our innocence, and mankind has never been the same.
Temptations are bred by cravings, and we crave all kinds of things: power, recognition, chocolate, revenge, success, talent, looks, money, just to name a few. It’s our weakness. We wouldn’t be tempted to commit a single crime if we weren’t craving. So in order to get to the bottom of this we need to ask why. Why are we craving?
Eve’s temptation was preceded by one simple question: “Did God really say?”
Somehow doubts and insecurities have wormed their way into Eve’s heart, and she was ready to take advice from a snake, for crying out loud. Why is she even listening? She has been doubting all along, and all it took was a little push, and off she went – into the wrong direction.
God on the other hand has no problems with doubts. He does not crave anything; He does not need anything. How then could He be tempted? James wrote in a letter (James 1:13):
“When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;”
So here it is, concise and clear: God can’t be tempted. His love knows no fear. No doubts are assailing Him. He is completely immune to any kind of temptation.
But then God became a baby, slipped into flesh and bones and inherited our human DNA. The Son of God can tell us a thing or two about temptation. He was rattled, He was in pain and agony, but He did not give in to temptation. How did He do it?
The gospels describe how Jesus was tempted at various times. Here is one example:
Jesus was wandering in the desert. He went without food for forty days. He was beyond hungry, His body was running out of fuel; all His body cells were screaming for sustenance. The interesting part of the temptation to me is that the tempter didn’t just dish Him freshly baked bread. He asked Him to turn stones into bread. So the temptation here was really two-fold: the struggle to overcome the urges of hunger, and the struggle to misapply His power. He could have easily turned stones into bread. He fed five thousand souls in the desert with only a few pieces of fish and bread. No problem here!
But Jesus didn’t misapply His power; instead He relinquished His power to God – not to the tempter – and whichever temptation came His way, He wasn’t going to do it. He dug in His heels and did not give in. Jesus trusted God on all accounts, especially when He had to face a gruesome death.
Trusting God is the key ingredient to beating temptation. However, trust is organic. It grows and it shrinks. Trust really depends on keeping in touch. Jesus definitely kept in touch. He is known for His alone time with God. He sought Him out regularly.
Our alone time with God nourishes our faith and our trust in Him. Cutting down on quality time with God, we get estranged faster than we are aware. Pretty soon God is an acquaintance, and we quote the truth without being personally vested in it. Our words become hollow and meaningless. Temptations come our way, and we fail big time. But then again, every twist and turn of our life’s journey provides the opportunity to come back to God.
God, who can’t be tempted, is also not tempted to drop us like a hot potato when we fail. And Jesus who knows how it feels to be tempted couldn’t be more empathetic.