Updated: Jul 20
Before we get into this subject, I have a couple of questions. Was Jesus perfectly holy? Was Jesus ever tempted? To those who have read the New Testament, the answers may seem obvious. But to our culture in general, I don't think it is. Our culture tends to portray Jesus in comical ways that demean His holiness. And I don't think I need to convince anyone of the pervasiveness of victim blaming in our culture today. But if we know that Jesus is holy, and that Jesus was tempted, how does that change our perspective on the relationship between holiness and temptation?
In 2 Corinthians 12, we see Paul confess to a thorn in the flesh. He doesn't expand any further than that, but I think it's safe to assume that this means he struggled with a certain temptation. I think he doesn't mention what the temptation is, because it honestly doesn't matter. He asked the Lord to remove the temptation 3 times, but the Lord's answer is always the same. "Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me."
Holiness is not the absence of temptation. Holiness is resisting sin, in the face of temptation. The reason we are "above reproach" is because we surround ourselves with people who know us well enough to vouch for our character, and hold us accountable. Seeking holiness together, as a body, is what sets us apart. Holiness is being the one person who says, "hey friend, maybe that's enough" while everyone else yells, "chug!". When we are truly holy, we can enter the darkest places in this world, and remain pure.
When Jesus was tempted, it was because He was isolated and vulnerable. He had been fasting for 40 days, by himself, in the desert. Satan took advantage of the situation. Does that make Jesus unwise for putting Himself in a compromising position? Absolutely not. Fear of temptation exposes our lack of faith. Jesus did not fear the temptations from Satan, rather He stood confidant, obedient, and unmoving. That inner strength is available to all who ask.
1 Corinthians 10:13 "The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure."
No one is special when it comes to temptation. There is nothing God has seen or heard, that He hasn't provided a way for. Do we seek temptation out? Of course not (Romans 6:1-2), but will temptation find an opportune moment to present itself? Absolutely, and because of that, we are prepared. We call upon the name of Jesus in our most dire circumstances, to plead for a way out. Sometimes that way out is to run and flee, like Joseph (Genesis 39:12). Sometimes the way out is to rebuke Satan and refuse to bow, like Jesus (Matthew 4:10). Whatever the way is, the Lord will provide. He is faithful.