Way of Escape

The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted. That is not something we should wish for, and certainly not something to pray for. In fact, Jesus taught us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:13). The historical church and Orthodox believers say, “deliver us from the evil one.” That is because there is a definite article before the word “evil” in the original language. I was pointing that out in France and my translator said the French translations all say “the evil,” or “the evil one.” That is not only a more correct translation, it makes the Lord’s prayer consistent with the High Priestly Prayer in John 17:15, “keep them from the evil one.”

Satan first tempts Jesus through the “lust of the flesh.” Jesus had fasted for forty days and was hungry. I fasted two days once and was famished! Jesus was making Himself as vulnerable as He could. He was isolated and on the verge of starving to death. “And the tempter came and said to Him, If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread. But He answered, It is written, ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matt. 4:3,4).

This was a real temptation since starvation was imminent. Satan wanted Jesus to use His own divine attributes independently of the Father to save Himself. All temptation is an attempt to get us to live our lives independently of the Father. We all know that Jesus quoted Scripture when tempted, but what is almost always overlooked is that He spoke it. He didn’t just think it. This is extremely important since Satan is under no obligation to obey our thoughts. He doesn’t perfectly know them. This little nugget of truth is life-changing for those who are caught in the cycle of addiction.

We all face peer pressure to compromise our convictions, but alcoholics, drug and sex addicts are most tempted when they are alone. In fact, temptation increases as they move toward isolation, which is why Jesus was led in to the wilderness. Nobody will see you in the wilderness, or hotel room, or bedroom, shop, garage, etc. Here is the good news. You won’t feel embarrassed to verbally stand against Satan when you are alone, and that is your way of escape. Secret sin on earth is open scandal in Heaven. Knowing this was my biggest defense against the enemy when I was alone and on the road for ministry.

Dr. Neil

For Spanish, see http://www.ficmm.org/blog