Identity (1): Tested
November 13, 2021
Billy was a 4-year-old terror in his church kindergarten. He pushed the other children, knocked them down, tripped them, and generally kept things upset.
One day the teacher said to him, “Billy, would you like to pray?” The little fighter prayed a simple prayer: “Jesus, please help those little children not to fall down so much.”
What a masterful request! In one statement he absolved himself of all responsibility for the other children’s falling down and getting hurt.
Change and responsibility go together. We can have no real behavioral change unless we take responsibility for our actions. If we are merely victims of our environment, the environment becomes responsible. If we are simply the product of what others have done to us, then they are responsible.
All change begins with a sense of personal ownership of our actions. Unless we own our actions, we will excuse our behavior. God has given us the power of choice and has promised to empower our choices. His Spirit impresses us to do right and enables us to do it. Accepting that we are morally responsible for our behavior, confessing our sins, and choosing to change allows us to receive God’s pardon and power. God’s grace saves us from sin’s guilt and grip. As the old hymn says: “Rock of Ages, cleft for me; . . . be of sin the double cure, cleanse me from its guilt and power.”
Our environment influences our behavior. Our choices determine it. No one chooses for us. God has given us the capacity to make our own moral decisions.
We will not be judged based on others’ decisions. We will be judged on our own. Moses’ appeal to Israel millenniums ago speaks to our hearts today. “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19, NKJV).
The choice is ours. His voice still speaks today. Choose life.—Mark Finley, Solid Ground, pp. 115, 116.
It is up to us to decide what path we will take when faced with temptation. But God has not left us to struggle alone. He has promised that if we call on Him, He will answer and help us out of all our trouble.
Memory Text: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:12, 13, NKJV).
Our Beliefs, no. 10, The Experience of Salvation: “Through Christ we are justified, adopted as God’s sons and daughters, and delivered from the lordship of sin. Through the Spirit we are born again and sanctified; the Spirit renews our minds, writes God’s law of love in our hearts, and we are given the power to live a holy life.”
Ellen G. White, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, pp. 116, 117
Read John 3:16, 17; Galatians 3:26; Romans 10:17.
God’s love exceeds everything we can understand. While we were still sinners, Jesus came and died for us. How do we become sons and daughters through faith in Jesus? By studying the Word of God.
How much time do you spend studying the Word of God?
What do you need to do to make studying the Bible a priority?
Fill in the blanks.
“For to this you were called, because also suffered, us an, that you should His steps: ‘Who no sin, nor was found in His mouth’; who, when He was, did revile in; when He suffered, He did not, but Himself to Him who; who Himself in His own body on the tree, that,, might for—” (1 Peter 2:21-24, NKJV).
Read Hebrews 2:17, 18.
If there is one common thread that runs through all of humanity, it is the reality that we all struggle under the pressure of temptation. In the Bible, temptation is not as much a “seduction” as it is a testing of our true convictions. Some might disagree, but for the most part, we tend to act on our deepest values. If you succumb to lying, it’s probably true that you believe the short-term benefit of avoiding responsibility outweighs the long-term benefit of being a person of integrity.
The devil tempted Jesus to use His divine power to turn stones into bread. Have you ever been tempted to go outside and turn a few rocks into something to eat? The temptation Satan offered to Jesus was rooted in selfishness—“take care of yourself.” It would have been all about Jesus at that point. But Jesus’ life wasn’t about Him.
What Jesus showed us was a thoughtful process for responding to Satan’s tricks. His anchor was in His Father’s words in Scripture.
Jesus considers who His Father is and who He is in relation to His Father. He chooses the best way, His Father’s will over His, and the end result is the redemption of humanity. It was all about representing His Father and providing a way for our salvation. The promise for us still remains:
“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:12-13, NKJV).
Match the texts with the correct phrase.
James 1:13-15 (NIV)
Psalm 91:11, 12 (NIV)
Deuteronomy 6:17-19 (NIV)
Psalm 2:8, 9 (NIV)
James 1:12 (NIV)
1 Corinthians 10:12, 13 (NKJV)
Hebrews 2:17, 18 (NIV)
1. “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
2. “When tempted no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’”
3. “But with the temptation [He] will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
4. “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.”
5. “Because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
6. “Be sure to keep the commands of the Lord your God and the stipulations and decrees he has given you.”
7. “Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.”
Read Psalm 91.
Review the memory text.
Jesus refuted Satan using Scripture. That is why it is so important for us to study and memorize scriptures. When we have studied and learned Bible verses, the Holy Spirit will bring to mind these texts when Satan tempts us. In fact, this is what Jesus did in the wilderness. He used Scripture texts to send the devil away.
The other thing Jesus said was “Yes” to His Father. In your moments of temptation, know that you can say “Yes” to God and experience the fullness of God’s power to overcome.
God longs for you to choose the best way out of a heart of love for Him and a deep sense that you belong to Him. It’s not enough to know how to say “No.” You have to know why you’re saying it.
Read Matthew 4:1-11.
Don’t just react! Think about it. Sometimes we get into big trouble because we respond without thinking. Think of a few temptations you struggle with, and list them in the far left boxes. Then think about the three W’s of resisting temptation found in the wilderness story. Then remind yourself of what a child of God would/should do in response. And imagine the intended result.
|Temptations I face throughout the week||Word—What does God’s Word say?
Worship—Is it about me or As a child of God, I am . . .God?
Will—Does God have a better way for me to go?
|As a child of God, I am . . .||Result|