Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Piper on Jesus, temptation, and my besetting sins

This is part of John Piper's excellent sermon on Hebrews 4:14-5:3,  "Draw Near to the Throne of Grace with Confidence", that features a thought provoking quote by C.S. Lewis.

Verse 15: Jesus, Though Tempted, Never Gave In, and so Is Sympathetic

     Then in verse 15 we learn that, in spite of how lofty our High Priest is (alive forever, in the presence of God, as the Son of God), nevertheless three other truths about him still stand:
    --he was tempted in all the kinds of ways we are;
    --he never gave in and sinned; and
    --he is therefore sympathetic with us in our weaknesses.
     For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.     Fifty years ago C.S. Lewis imagined someone objecting here: "If Jesus never sinned, then he doesn't know what temptation is like. He lived a sheltered life and is out of touch with how strong temptation can be." Here is what Lewis wrote in response to that objection:

    "A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is . . . A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in . . . Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means—the only complete realist."
     Jesus can sympathize with us in our pain and our dying, because he experienced excruciating pain and entered all the way into death. And he can sympathize with us in our allurements to sin, because he was tempted—
    --to lie (to save his life)
    --and to steal (to help his poor mother when his father died)
    --and to covet (all the nice things that Zacchaeus owned)
   -- and to dishonor his parents (when they were more strict than others)
   -- and to take revenge (when he was wrongly accused)
    --and to lust (when Mary wiped his feet with her hair)
    --and to pout with self-pity (when his disciples fell asleep in his last hour of trial)
   -- and to murmur at God (when John the Baptist died at the whim of a dancing girl)
    --and to gloat over his accusers (when they couldn't answer his questions)
     Jesus knows the battle. He fought it all the way to the end. And he defeated the monster every time. So he was tested like we are and the Bible says he is a sympathetic High Priest. He does not roll his eyes at your pain or cluck his tongue at your struggle with sin.

By John Piper. ©2012 Desiring God Foundation. Website:
This segment has prompted me to think about my own besetting sins and where the Gospels record an event in Christ's life where He was likely to have faced a similar temptation.  I don't think there is a guarantee that every type of temptation was recorded in the Gospel's, but it is interesting to try and think of where mine show up, and how Christ probably experienced something similar.

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