Commentary on "Integrity: Wholeness and Holiness"
Day 2: Sunday, May 30, 2010 - Jesus in the Wilderness
This lesson examines Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness following His baptism. It begins by observing that compromise is easy, that one gives a little here and there, and over time, one finds oneself in a place he never intended to be. Then it moves to Jesus encountering Satan and makes the comment that Satan found Him to be “an impregnable wall”.
The lesson then contrasts Jesus to the Great Wall of China which was impregnable until once when a gatekeeper accepted a bribe and admitted invaders. Satan was not able to get Jesus to compromise.
The lesson says Satan will work through our appetite, presumption, pride, desire for worldly things or any other avenue to get us to compromise our integrity and push us away from Jesus.
The lesson ends with this statement: “Only through a constant and firm reliance on the power of God, and a willingness to die to self, can we overcome. It then asks thought questions about what areas of their lives the readers have compromised and asks if compromise bothers the reader now more than it used to.
First, the treatment in this lesson of Jesus in the wilderness completely misses the point of that dramatic event in Jesus’ life, and it assumes that Jesus’ victory over Satan is an example for us.
Jesus did not just happen to encounter Satan in the wilderness; he “was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Mt. 4:1). This encounter was orchestrated by God. Jesus began His ministry with a 40-day wilderness experience by being the perfect Israel the nation failed to be during its 40 years in the wilderness. He was the faithful, sinless Son of God that Adam failed to be. He qualified to be our new Head.
He had to be tempted and tested as Israel was and as we are in order to qualify as our “merciful and faithful high priest” (Heb. 2:17).
He also is the model of all believers when they are tempted. He is not the model for all humanity; natural men are by nature “children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3), and in no way is it possible for them to resist temptation, no matter what they do—even if they pray and pray and beg to be good.
Before a person can hope to have any resistance to temptation, he must be born again of the Holy Spirit and filled with the life of God (Jn. 3:3-5). God saves us while we are dead in sin and raises us up with Christ (Eph 2:4-6). No amount of Scripture quoting or prayer can keep us from sin and from Satan’s wiles until we have repented and accepted Jesus as our Lord and accepted His payment for our sin (Rom. 3:21-26; 10:9-10).
Jesus is not an example showing us how to be right with God. He is the eternal God in human flesh living on earth as the Son of God. Only those who are born of the Spirit and have the life of God in them, as Jesus did from the moment of His conception, can look at Jesus as a model for themselves. Jesus did not demonstrate how to achieve God’s favor; He lived as one who already has eternal life and God’s favor. Those who place their faith in Him are the only one who are right with God.
Only the born again can look to Jesus as a model. Those who have not been born again must bow the knee before Him and accept His blood as payment for their sin. When a person places their trust in Jesus alone for their forgiveness and salvation, they are filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14) and pass from death to life (Jn. 4-25) and become children of God (Jn1:12; Rom. 8:14-16).
Integrity is only possible when the deep wound of sin has been healed by Christ’s blood and personal righteousness covering our natural brokenness. When the Lord Jesus makes His home in our hearts by His indwelling Spirit, His integrity becomes ours. Only with His life in us do we have the option of choosing to act with integrity. Only God’s righteousness can effect integrity in a mortal human.
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