How Jesus met and mastered temptation

Last month when the controversial film The Last Temptation of Christ was opening at theaters in the United States, much of the debate centered on how the movie depicted Jesus dealing with temptation. The hallucinatory imaginings of the film's Jesus included fantasies of his participating in the activities he was tempted with.

Yet such a depiction isn't anything like what the Bible presents about the way our Master faced and overcame temptation. Certainly, the New Testament tells us that the real Jesus was tempted. The Epistle to the Hebrews makes it clear that Jesus understood what people had to confront in their lives and that he "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Heb. 4:15.

The words "yet without sin" are essential to an accurate understanding of how Christ Jesus dealt with temptation. It is evident from Scriptural accounts that he met sin at the door of consciousness and shut it out before it could gain entrance. He didn't entertain evil, bring it into thought with vivid fantasizing, or dwell with it for a time until he could decide how desirable it might be. The Christ, which Jesus so purely embodied, enabled him to confront temptation squarely, face it down, and cast it away, thus proving his dominion over sin. His unparalleled work of healing both sickness and sin testified to his unique place in history as humanity's Saviour.

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September 26, 1988

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