Matthew 5:27-30: It’s The Thought That Counts

Read: Matthew 5:27-30

Concerning adultery, Jesus doesn’t play. He says the thought of lust is as bad as the act itself. And for men especially, lust with the eyes is a powerful temptations. In Jesus’ day, the common thought was that it was okay to look and have lustful thoughts so long as one did not act upon these impulses. Jesus says however that the mere thought is the same as the actual act concerning adultery. He makes some rather repugnant remarks about how one should handle lust when he says that one should gouge an eye out or lop of a hand to keep oneself from sinning. Jesus is not literally encouraging one to maim himself, rather he’s using hyperbole here to make a strong point: that one should utterly remove himself from from situations and purify his or her thoughts so that he or she doesn’t even think about sin.

No one person is immune to temptations. James 1:13-15 explains that everyone struggles with it temptations because everyone has desires. The nature the particular temptation is going to manifest itself in different ways in an individuals life. For some, it’s substance abuse like drugs and alcohol. For others, it’s gossip. And yet for others it’s behavioral temptations like lust or gambling. When temptation is manifested, it leads to sin and brings death. So many of the temptations result in lifestyles of addiction or other destructive behaviors that ruin families, marriages, jobs, ministries, and so many other things. Concerning lust, Proverbs 5:7-23 speaks to the nature of lust, and verse 15 summarily offers sound advice: “drink from your own cistern” and don’t share. In other words, delight in the marriage God has given and find satisfaction there, not in other people.

The principle of the matter is simple: understand the proper time and place for certain things and and don’t exceed these boundaries. For some people though, it is better to not even entertain certain behaviors even if others don’t have the same struggle. For instance, for those that struggle with gluttony it is best not to even have the certain foods that tempt one to eat around so that temptation isn’t even possible. For other believers though that don’t struggle with certain temptations, they should encourage their brothers and sisters on the matter and not be a stumbling block for them – in fact to do so is sin too (1 Corinthians 8:9-13). God is glorified when the body is strengthened rather than weakened by those would cause others to stumble.

Lord, help my thoughts and actions to be pure!

Matthew 4:1-11: Temptations

Read: Matthew 4:1-11

Jesus’ temptation is an interesting episode in the scriptures. This sojourn in the wilderness is in many ways in keeping with Matthew’s theme of showing that Jesus is the Messiah. He us fulfilling all reghteousness and obedience here by doing what Israel could not do while they were in the wilderness.

First, Satan comes to Jesus while Jesus was in the wilderness fasting for 40 days, which resulted in hunger. Satan tempts Jesus with food to appease his hunger, but Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy 8:3. In the context of Deuteronomy, Moses is reminding Israel of the testing that they went through in the wilderness for 40 years after the Exodus. God used this time to shape Israel such that they realized in their humility that they were utterly dependent upon God for their well being – even something as simple as food. It was God that provided manna everyday for Israel. When Jesus came to earth, he submitted himself to the will of the Father and became obedient to God’s will (Philippians 2:1-11). While he was more than capable of turning stones to bread, he chose not to out of a desire to remain humble.

For his second temptation, Satan tempts Jesus by taking him to the pinnacle of the temple to where he says that Jesus should throw himself off so that the angles would catch break his fall. This time though, Satan quotes from Psalm 91, which speaks of God as a refuge and how God will protect those who love him. Jesus replies again quoting from Deuteronomy 6:16. The context here follows from where Jesus previously quoted on the second temptation about worshiping God alone. Here, Moses is reminding Israel not to test God as they did as Massah, where they grumbled against God because they had no water. God miraculously provided water from a rock for them (Exodus 17:1-7). Satan was correct in quoting from Psalm, but he twisted the scripture, wanting Jesus to demand that God do a miracle instead of resting in God’s providential care.

For his third, Satan takes Jesus to a high place and shows him all the kingdoms of the earth and says that he will give them to Jesus if Jesus were to bow down and worship Satan. Here, Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy 6:13, which speaks of the jealousy of God for his people. He commanded the exclusive worship of the people of Israel. The irony of the situation is that Jesus is divine, and would one day rule the nations (Revelation 21) and Satan would be subjugated (Revelation 20:7-10). The temptation here again is showing the humanity and humility of Jesus. Jesus refused circuit what would be his anyways after his death, burial, resurrection and ascension so that he could fulfill his mission and defeat death and Satan and redeem humanity.

Jesus was tempted in every way that Christians today are. And because Jesus was tempted, he is able to empathize with all humanity, yet he did not sin This makes Jesus the perfect great high priest that can help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16). James 4 speaks to sin among believers and says that the remedy for it this is submission to God and resisting the devil. This is precisely what Jesus did: he stayed humble and obedient to God and Satan was unable to gain a foothold. With Jesus’ help, believers can overcome temptation and do so triumphantly. To do this though, when needs to know what God’s word says concerning sin so that when temptation does come ones way, he or she will not fall prey to temptation (Psalm 119:11).

Lord, help me to stay humble and obedient so that I may resist temptation!

Luke 4:1-13: Jesus’ Temptation

Read: Luke 4:1-13
Jesus’ temptation is an interesting episode in the scriptures. Here, Satan comes to Jesus while Jesus was in the wilderness fasting for 40 days, which resulted in hunger. Satan tempts Jesus with food to appease his hunger, but Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy 8:3. In the context of Deuteronomy, Moses is reminding Israel of the testing that they went through in the wilderness for 40 years after the Exodus. God used this time to shape Israel such that they realized in their humility that they were utterly dependent upon God for their well being – even something as simple as food. It was God that provided manna everyday for Israel. When Jesus came to earth, he submitted himself to the will of the Father and became obedient to God’s will (Philippians 2:1-11). While he was more than capable of turning stones to bread, he chose not to out of a desire to remain humble.

For his second temptation, Satan takes Jesus to a high place and shows him all the kingdoms of the earth and says that he will give them to Jesus if Jesus were to bow down and worship Satan. Here, Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy 6:13, which speaks of the jealousy of God for his people. He commanded the exclusive worship of the people of Israel. The irony of the situation is that Jesus is divine, and would one day rule the nations (Revelation 21) and Satan would be subjugated (Revelation 20:7-10). The temptation here again is showing the humanity and humility of Jesus. Jesus refused circuit what would be his anyways after his death, burial, resurrection and ascension so that he could fulfill his mission and defeat death and Satan and redeem humanity.

For his third temptation, Satan tempts Jesus by taking him to the pinnacle of the temple to where he says that Jesus should throw himself off so that the angles would catch break his fall. This time though, Satan quotes from Psalm 91, which speaks of God as a refuge and how God will protect those who love him. Jesus replies again quoting from Deuteronomy 6:16. The context here follows from where Jesus previously quoted on the second temptation about worshiping God alone. Here, Moses is reminding Israel not to test God as they did as Massah, where they grumbled against God because they had no water. God miraculously provided water from a rock for them (Exodus 17:1-7). Satan was correct in quoting from Psalm, but he twisted the scripture, wanting Jesus to demand that God do a miracle instead of resting in God’s providential care.

Jesus was tempted in every way that Christians today are. And because Jesus was tempted, he is able to empathize with all humanity, yet he did not sin This makes Jesus the perfect great high priest that can help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16). James 4 speaks to sin among believers and says that the remedy for it this is submission to God and resisting the devil. This is precisely what Jesus did: he he stayed humble and obedient to God and Satan was unable to gain a foothold. With Jesus’ help, believers can overcome temptation and do so triumphantly. To do this though, when needs to know what God’s word says concerning sin so that when temptation does come ones way, he or she will not fall prey to temptation (Psalm 119:11).

Lord, help me to stay humble and obedient so that I may resist temptation!

Joshua 16: Could Of, Should Of

Read: Joshua 16

Joshua 16 is a certainly a short text, covering the inheritance of Joseph’s descendants. Verse 10 makes a particular note about this inheritance: they did not oust the people of Gezer, rather they made them vassals to themselves such that the people of Gezer paid tribute Israel.  Verse 10 looks like Joshua 15:63 in some respect because it mentions a people living among Israel although Israel was supposed to drive them out. Joshua 15:63 however notes they “could not” drive out the Jebusites. Joshua 16:10 says that Israel “did not” drive out the people of Gezer. Some commentators have suggested that these should be treated the same, but this is problematic because Isreal was powerful enough to subjugate Gezer. It stands to reason that if Israel could subjugate Gezer, they could have also ousted Gezer as well.

Numbers 33:55 is pretty clear about the implications about what would happen if Israel did not drive out the inhabitants of Canaan. They would be a “prick in the eye” and “thorn in the side” and would also “vex” the land. Joshua gives warning against this in his parting word (Joshua 23:12-13). The very existence of Canaanites among the Israelites would be troublesome, a temptation leading them away from God to following other false gods, and sure enough, this happened (Judges 2:3).

The presence of temptation to turn away in the midst of believers does not always seem harmful, but like. Jesus taught about having sin around in one’s life. He says get rid of that which causes one to stumble (Matthew 18:8-9). James describes the nature of sin when one is tempted: temptation leads to sin, and sin brings forth death. That which Christians do have control over, they should remove. But Christians don’t have control over everything. For this reason one has to also be firmly rooted in what helps guide one away from sin: the word of God (Psalm 119:9, Psalm 119:105, 2 Timothy 3:15-17). By taking reproof from the word of God one can combat the temptations that come one’s way!

Lord, help rid myself of temptations that I can remove, and combat the ones that I cannot.

Joshua 7: The Weight of Sin

Read: Joshua 7

Achan went down in history has the man that disobeyed the ban that God had given Israel concerning the city of Jericho (Joshua 6:17-21). He kept for himself some of the things that he was not supposed to keep, and this ended up costing the life of him, his family, and all he owned. Among the things were gold, silver, and the “mantle of Shinar” – perhaps an elaborate robe of Babylonian origin. The significance of the robe is not explained, but it was perhaps a mantle used by priests during the occult worship of the Canaanite gods. Achan’s misdeeds caused the death of some of the men who went up to take Ai as well. When the spies went out from the Israelite camp, they came back confident that it would only take part of the men to take Ai. They apparently assumed that God was working in their favor when they took the city of Jericho, but he was not with them when they sent men to Ai. Instead of a complete route like they had seen at Jericho, the men were sent high-tailing it back to the Israelite camp. That, and God did not hold just one person accountable for the sins of Achan, rather the whole nation. The gravity of the ban was made apparent by how God dealt with Jericho, but Achan for some reason did not take it seriously and fell to the temptation God had warned them against in light of the ban. In response to this, Israel destroyed Achan in the Valley of Achor which was named after Achan and Achan’s name came to synonymous with the word “trouble” in the Hebrew language.

It is difficult for modern readers of Joshua to fully understand why God would “burn” against an entire nation because of one man’s sins. Achan’s sin seems rather private, but the effects of sin are hardly ever contained to an individual. Sin has a ripple effect that touches all areas of a person’s life and community. God wanted Israel to understand this, and even more so consider what would happen if even a little sin were allowed to germinate and take root among the people of Israel. James 1:13-15 describes sin in these terms – temptation gives rise to lust, lust gives birth to sin, and sin leads to death. Romans 5:12 describes how sin entered the world through one man and spread to every other man. Sin is like a disease: a small infection usually is harmless, but unless the infection is treated immediately, it can grow and become untreatable or even fatal. Jesus talks about maiming one’s self when something causes one to stumble in Matthew 18:7-8 and Matthew 5:29-30. The point here is that a small part can drag down the whole of an individual or even a corporate body.

Sin is as serious an issue today as it was for the Israelites. Christians can learn many things from the Israelites concerning sin and its implications. God was doing mighty works among them – so much so it seems they were getting pretentious about how God was going to act. But the sins of a one man brought God’s action to a screeching halt and instead Israel was humiliated and Joshua was grieved by this. God told Joshua to act decisively and deliberately concerning sin and he purged sin from Israel. Rather than assume that God will work mightily, Christians ought to be humble and seek God’s face at every turn. And in this humility, Christians should also remember to constantly confess sin and purge sin from their own lives to that it does not have a chance to germinate and spread like a ravenous disease. God is faithful to forgive sin and cleanse one from unrighteousness!

Lord, I am a sinner! Please forgive me and cleanse me from unrighteousness!