“Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Hebrews 2:18
One of the greatest obstacles to our purposeful pursuit of becoming like Jesus is the persistent idea that we simply cannot be like Him because He is the unique Son of God. It is almost as if we believe that He wasn’t truly like us, so how can we ever become like Him?
To counter this tempting line of reasoning, we have the testimony quoted above. Jesus really did become like us, and we really can become like Him. One of the most important implications of Jesus’ incarnation, His taking on of humanity, is that He has experienced our weaknesses and our temptations. He sympathizes with our weaknesses because He has “been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet He did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15). What significance could this actually have if Jesus was not vulnerable to temptation? How could His temptations allow Him to sympathize with us if they were not the very kind of full temptations we face day after day?
Disciple, I want to remind you that, as you live your life today, you are vulnerable but empowered. It is true that you are targeted with temptation because your flesh is indeed weak, but you are also the recipient of power because you have been sealed with God’s own Spirit. Though you must be tempted, you do not have to sin. Take this beautiful truth into your mind and heart:
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Cor. 10:13)
The fact is, Disciple, that you do not have to sin anymore. In each temptation you face, you have a way to do what is loving, just, and right. When your flesh, the world, and Satan press you to sin, you also have the press of Christ’s Spirit, Word, and Church Body toward obedience. Do not underestimate the power that is available to you in these three gifts of Christ as you stand firmly against these three enemies.
I implore you not to fall prey to the lie that you are “just a sinner saved by grace”. You were a sinner, but you have been saved by grace, and that means you have been saved from the power of sin. It is no longer your master (Romans 6:14) because you have sworn your allegiance to a new Master.
Your goal, then, is to choose obedience in your next temptation. In choosing obedience, you are choosing to love and worship your King. Do not set out to never sin again. Set out to obey the next time you’re tempted not to. Make the hard choice. Sacrifice for another what you might otherwise have for yourself. Step into grace and your Master’s shepherding presence. Find rest there, for He understands your struggle and your weakness. What can the Enemy do to you when you are there? Isn’t Jesus the Shepherd whose rod and staff comforts you and who prepares a feast for you in the presence of your enemies (Psalm 23:4-5)? Live victoriously today, for the one who knows how hard it is to overcome temptations is also the one who has overcome them time and again. He will lead you in that same path of overcoming!
Celebrating His sympathy and His empowerment with you,