I am trying to really grab hold of a promise from God’s Word that I don’t believe I have taken nearly as seriously as I need to. We have probably all heard it at some point in time, but for some reason I think that it’s power has eluded us. In I Corinthians 10:13 Paul wrote, “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able”. This is a promise that God has made to each one of us that He will always see to it that we are protected and prepared. He does not leave us to see if we can, He goes before us to teach us that He is able.
When Jesus was baptized many things were happening and there are pieces that I have missed in the past. Jesus declares to John that “righteousness” is being fulfilled. Jesus is being filled with the Holy Spirit and launched into the ministry of the Messiah, John is having his ministry come to a close, he is finishing his course to use Paul’s terminology. But there is also something that is being done on Jesus’ behalf, He is being prepared for temptation. After He comes out of the water, the Holy Spirit rests on Jesus in the form of a dove and then the Father speaks from heaven, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Matthew writes that as soon as the baptism was over that Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness for 40 days of fasting. In the natural this is quite odd. The baptism was a monumental moment in the life of Christ and also in the life of all humanity. In this type of moment we look for a celebration, for a revival, for something that will draw great attention. So why does the Holy Spirit lead Jesus into a place of barrenness instead of a place of banquet? For preparation and for protection. God knew what was coming next, He was fully aware that Jesus was about to be tempted by Satan and so there was no time for a celebration, it was time to be protected.
After 40 days of fasting the Bible tells us that Jesus was hungry. At that time Satan came and tempted Him. His opening line is interesting, “If you are the Son of God”. At the moment Jesus heard this I am quite sure that He also heard His Father’s voice from just 40 days earlier at His baptism, “This is My beloved Son.” I have always read this and thought this was an example of Satan attacking God’s voice and promise in Jesus’ life. There is probably a lot of truth in it, but this week I have seen another side as well, one that fills me with confidence and peace. God knew what Satan’s temptation would be. He was giving Jesus the answer before Satan asked the question. God was going before His Son, even into temptation so that He would be both prepared and protected. At the moment Satan questioned Jesus’ identity as the Son of God Jesus knew He didn’t have to prove Himself, because His Father had already approved Him.
How do we overcome temptation? The same way that Jesus did, we must believe in the voice of God, we must trust in His promises and obey His leading. Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into preparation, He was led to prayer and fasting that would give Him the power and the strength to overcome temptation. Jesus was never tempted with more than He was able and neither are we, if we will submit to the preparation and protection of God.
My last question is this, what has God spoken to you recently? I think that Scripture shows us that your promise will be questioned, your identity will be examined, and your character will be judged. God knew that these temptations were coming, that is why He spoke! Yes, Jesus was God’s beloved Son and He was pleased with Him, but that wasn’t spoken at some random moment. God wasn’t more pleased because of the baptism than He had been at any other time. He spoke it because He knew that Jesus would soon have it questioned. God knows our temptation. He knows its source, its timing, its power and its future. He has spoken to you so that you will be prepared and protected. Take His voice and follow it, believe it, trust it and be prepared by it. The Word of God will never leave us unaware or unable. The Word is “quick and powerful”, walk in its power, be led by its truth and be protected by its guidance. God isn’t merely speaking, He is working. We must let His voice work in our lives to the point that we come to believe and fulfill the promise that we will never be tempted with more than we are able, to not only bear, but to overcome.