Hebrews 2:18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
We sometimes have trouble imagining what it was like for Jesus to live as a human being. We kind of get the idea that He laid aside His omnipotence and His omniscience, because we see glimpses of that in His earthly ministry with miracles and words of knowledge. (Actually, we don’t grasp that, because everything He did on this earth He did in the power of the Holy Spirit, and not in His innate power as the Son – and that same Holy Spirit is available to us.) We have more trouble grasping that as perfectly holy God, who could not be tempted by evil to any degree, (James 1:13) He became fully human and so subjected Himself to the same temptations we face. He never sinned, (Hebrews 4:15) but the temptations were real, and the very fact that they were tempting to Him was doubtless worse than physical suffering would have been. His time in the desert at the start of His ministry is famous, (Luke 4:1-13) but we sometimes fail to realize that the temptations listed there are simply representative types; we face the same things. He was tempted to place His physical needs and desires ahead of obedience to His Father. He was tempted to take the “easy way out,” worshiping the devil in exchange for the world. He was tempted to try to force God to do stuff His way, instead of walking in humble submission. That last was put to the ultimate test in the garden of Gethsemane, but He still passed. (Matthew 26:39) The point in this verse is that Jesus understands temptation, and He doesn’t put us down for feeling it. We’ve got to remember that temptation itself isn’t sin, it’s yielding to temptation that is sinful.
I’ve been tempted as much as anyone, and my response hasn’t always been good by any means. Sometimes I have even delighted in temptations, because they stimulate my flesh. That response is certainly sinful, because it means I’m putting my flesh ahead of God. The point for me in my ministry is to recognize the devil’s schemes and help others to do so as well, so that we may be better equipped to submit to God and resist the devil. (James 4:7) I’m never to put anyone down for being tempted, even when it’s something that doesn’t tempt me, but rather seek to walk alongside them to keep them pointed toward Jesus. Jesus alone was able to conquer every temptation, so I am not to condemn people – myself included – for stumbling, but rather help them repent and accept God’s full forgiveness. (1 John 1:9)
Father, thank You for this reminder. As I get older the temptations are sometimes more subtle, but they are still there. Help me walk in the purity and obedience You desire, helping others to do likewise, so that the devil’s schemes may be defeated and You alone glorified. Thank You. Praise God!