"Jesus is Lord!" was a common greeting among New Testament believers. They confessed a lifestyle of radical obedience to the Lordship of Jesus.
In the fullness of the Spirit
"Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, . . . was led by the Spirit into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by the Devil" (Luke 4:1, TM).
If Jesus was tempted, you and I will be tempted as well.
No work of grace will deliver us from being tempted. Temptation is not a sin.
The Lord encountered three basic temptations:
"He ate nothing during those days, and when the time was up he was hungry. The Devil . . . gave the first test: 'Since you're God's Son, command this stone to turn into a loaf of bread. ' Jesus answered . . . 'It takes more than bread to really live'" (Luke 4:2-4, TM).
God-given appetites are good and necessary for life. Satisfying those appetites as God intended gives life. Satisfying the flesh in man's way destroys life.
"He led him up and spread out all the kingdoms of the earth on display . . . 'Worship me and they're yours.' . . . Jesus refused . . . 'Worship the Lord your God and only the Lord your God. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness'" (Luke 4:5-8, TM).
We all have influence and power. Self-seeking power kills and wounds. Christ-centered influence empowers others. Our temptation is to want power for our ego gratification and to control others. "Jesus is Lord," means that we will not lord our influence over others.
"The Devil . . . put him on top of the Temple. He said, 'If you are God's Son, jump. It's written, isn't it, that "he has placed you in the care of angels to protect you . . ."
'Yes,' said Jesus, 'and it's also written, "Don't you dare tempt the Lord your God."' That completed the testing. The Devil retreated temporarily, lying in wait for another opportunity" (Luke 4:9-13, TM).
We all belong to groups that provide us with identity and community. Herd or peer pressure, however, can govern or curse us if we live to please people. In living for God's pleasure, I find my true identity and am free to serve others.
Christlike disciples are tempted to sell their souls and live for the gratification of the flesh, for the thrill of wielding power over others, or for the applause of others.
In the Power of the Spirit
"Jesus returned to Galilee powerful in the Spirit" (Luke 4:14, TM).
We find true victory through radical surrender to the lordship of Jesus. This must be followed by a daily surrender of the flesh, power, and the herd.
We overcome temptations in the power of the Spirit by using spiritual weapons that ". . . have divine power to demolish strongholds" (2 Corinthians 10:4).
I heard an evangelist speak of his previous addictive, sinful life. Upon conversion he was delivered from the temptation to use drugs and alcohol, dramatically. He shared, however, that he continued to battle overwhelming temptation to gamble each time he saw a casino. When he was tempted he:
- Called out the name of Jesus
- Claimed protection through the blood of Jesus
- Recited the Word of God
- Cried out in prayer
- Praised the Lord in word and song
- Used the "word of his testimony." He picked random phone book names and began to witness to strangers. His intention was to continue witnessing until Satan would leave him alone!
"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 stand up under it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Though every one of us will be tempted, we are not slaves to sin. By God's grace we are free to proclaim, "Jesus is Lord!"
Jerry D. Porter is a general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene.
Holiness Today, May/June 2010