When the Bible is called the ‘living word’ it usually means several things. For example that even though it was written a long time ago it is still relevant today. But what I love more is that you can read something in the Bible, something you have read many times before and then suddenly a new insight jumps out at you. You get a new look at a bit of information that before was just part of the background.
I love when this happens and it happened to me this week. And it happened at a time when I really really needed a certain passage to take on some fresh meaning for me.
I’m talking about Matthew chapter 4, where Jesus is taken into a desert and tempted by Satan, trying to get him to give in to him. I haven’t read this passage a lot for myself but I felt like I knew it pretty well and that I understood all there was to understand. Boy was I wrong!
In my last post I talked about struggling with temptation. And one of the things I have really struggled with when I have been tempted by porn is to understand where Jesus was in it. I would pray and I would ask him to help and often he did, but somehow he felt distant and I pretty much felt like he didn’t understand what I was going through.
I mean I have heard on countless occasions that Jesus knows exactly what it feels like to be us. He knows what it feels like to go through our struggles. But I couldn’t quite believe that. How can Jesus know what it is like to be tempted by porn?! He may well have been tempted sexually but it certainly isn’t reported in the Bible.
But reading Matthew 4 again, something hit me which has changed my whole look on Jesus. And the thing that hit me most were verses 8 and 9 (the message)
For the third test, the Devil took him to the peak of a huge mountain. He gestured expansively, pointing out all the earth’s kingdoms, how glorious they all were. Then he said, “They’re yours—lock, stock, and barrel. Just go down on your knees and worship me, and they’re yours.”
Jesus was tempted twice by Satan but then on the third time, he offers Jesus everything. He offers him power and prestige and control. He offers him the chance to control and rule the world.
There is a little problem though in that Satan can’t offer him any of this. According to Satan if Jesus just bows to him he can have it all. But it isn’t Satan’s to give. Satan does not have any authority to give this to Jesus. It’s a big stinking lie. Plain and simple.
I thought about when we struggle with temptation and I realized that this is exactly what Satan does with us. He offers us an escape. “If I was just to take the time to look at that website or buy that magazine, then everything would be ok. The things I was looking for would be given to me. The hurt or void in my life that I thought porn could fill would be gone….”
When you struggle with porn or lust it is usually because there is something you are trying to fix. We use it to fix our past, our feelings of abandonment, our self image issues. We turn to porn to give us back control we feel we have lost somewhere. For me it may be issues to do with losing my father. A loss of a father figure. A loss of the type of love that a Father gives. For others it may be abuse they suffered or other parental junk from your past.
You were raped as a kid so you look at porn because it gives you a feeling of control again. Something, which was taken from you. There are a hundred and one reasons why people turn to porn but I believe that regaining control over a feeling of helplessness or despair is a very big reason.
And it’s at this point that I realised that Jesus does know what it feels like to be sexually tempted. Because Jesus was offered the chance to have control by Satan. Verse 1 tells us that Jesus had been fasting for forty days and nights and he was hungry. We don’t know what Jesus dealt with during that time, but I bet he thought about what lay ahead for him. We know from Matthew 26 v 39 that Jesus was human because he asked for God to provide an alternative from him dying on the cross.
“My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?” (the message)
Jesus was scared. Jesus knew that this was not going to be nice. Wow Jesus was human. I read these two passages and suddenly I realized Jesus was just like us. I started to see Jesus as someone who understood everything I went through. This changes everything.
Back to the desert.
Jesus was hungry. He was vulnerable. He needed filled up. If you struggle with porn it’s because you are hungry. You are vulnerable. You need filled up.
Wow. Are you getting that?!
And when Satan offers him a chance to get back a feeling of control over everything that was going through his head, it must have been very tempting.
Jesus knows exactly what it’s like to be tempted by porn. And he didn’t cave. He stood firm. He knew that not giving in was what was really going to fill that hole. He knew that only God could really offer what he needed.
And if Jesus can do it then so can we. He is with me now all the time and so that means his power is in me and you and anyone who loves him.
I have been tempted a few times recently and when I am I remember this. I remember that Jesus does understand what I am feeling and because he loves me he shows me how to get past the temptation. If nothing else just knowing Jesus understands is enough for me to resist. Knowing that Jesus does care. Because now I don’t feel alone. I don’t feel like I am the only one who goes through this.
Jesus does know what it feels like.
Jesus survived the desert.
Which means you can too.