How we’re meant to overcome

Why do you think Jesus could endure such a great temptation in the Garden of Gethsemane, even to the point of sweating drops of blood? (Luke 22:44) Was it because He was superhuman; He had some ability we don’t possess? That’s not what Scripture teaches us, for it says that He had a nature just like ours. To show you this, I would like to briefly look at two passage in passing here:

15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Heb.4:15 NKJV*)

For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Rom.8:3-4 NKJV*)

I want you to notice two things. First, it says Jesus can sympathize with our weaknesses because He was tempted just as we are, except He didn’t give into them. Secondly, it says in Hebrews that He came in “sinful flesh.” In other words, just like ours.

As you probably know, the word “flesh” (Greek:  σάρξ – sarx), in this context, means human nature (or frailty). The Phillips Translation says it that way:

But God has met this by sending his own Son Jesus Christ to live in that human nature which causes the trouble…. (Rom.8:3b PHILLIPS).

What Paul tells us in Romans is that Jesus was able to resist temptation, not according to His divine nature, nor did He do it by the Law, which is powerless and only heightens our awareness of sin, but according to the power of the Spirit of God in Him.

Which is exactly what we’re also supposed to do.

Here’s my question: if Jesus can resist temptation to the point of sweating blood, do you think we can overcome all of our relatively light afflictions?

You might say, but I’m not God! Yes, of course, and that’s the point! God is in you, and Jesus is our example in how to live according to His power, not our own.

The reason Jesus could resist even the greatest temptation was not because He was God the Son, but because He learned to trust His Father in all points of temptation. As the writer of Hebrews also says:

though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. (Heb.5:8 NKJV*)

And that brings me to my main point.

God allows you and me to go through trials so that we can learn how to trust His power in us. This is how we grow strong in the faith. Paul said this very thing to the Corinthians, which I’ll show in The Passion Translation because it’s more clear:

13 We all experience times of testing, which is normal for every human being. But God will be faithful to you. He will screen and filter the severity, nature, and timing of every test or trial you face so that you can bear it. And each test is an opportunity to trust him more, for along with every trial God has provided for you a way of escape that will bring you out of it victoriously. (1 Cor.10:13 TPT*)

This is the popular “way of escape” verse. In the original Greek, the word for trial (πειρασμός – peirasmos) is interchangeable with the word “temptation.”

But before I go further, I should point out that God is not the one tempting us, as James tells us:

 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. (James 1:13-14 NKJV*)

It’s clear that these trials and temptations originate from things within us. And it’s also important to know that God only allows them to the degree that we can overcome them:

“But God will be faithful to you. He will screen and filter the severity, nature, and timing of every test or trial you face so that you can bear it.” (1 Cor.10:13b*)

So, how do we walk according to the Spirit instead of the flesh and live this overcoming life?  It certainly doesn’t mean we try harder next time, that’s a hamster wheel called religious legalism. It means we trust more in His power residing in us.

Here’s what you and I need to understand, otherwise we won’t benefit from what’s going on inside of us:

Even though God allows these trials to befall us, He won’t let them be too much for us because their purpose is so that we can learn how to defeat them with His power!

What this means, dear reader, is that you and I were meant to win every trial and escape every trap we may encounter! It also means that when we lose the battle, we’re still believing a lie more than we’re trusting God, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if we learn this from the experience.

Beloved, there’s no condemnation for those who love God, but He’s also a good Father. He was a good Father to His Son through all the things Jesus suffered, including the Garden of Gethsemane. And He wants you and me to grow up, strong in the faith. Untested faith is superficial and too frail to be of any use to anyone.

He is faithful to complete that which He has begun in us. Embrace the process. You were meant to come out of every trial and temptation victoriously!

* All emphasis added.

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 39 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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4 Responses to How we’re meant to overcome

  1. tsalmon says:

    This is a wonderful partial explanation of the reason, even the necessity, behind human suffering. It’s seems to me that modern science, especially the psychological science, on how humans are designed to be “anti-fragile” actually confirms what you are relating here. For example, having a disease sparks the growth of antibodies that makes one stronger and more immune to the same virus in the future (and a vaccine mimics the virus to create the same human anti-fragility by using a harmless dead virus).

    Similarly, as you say, surviving physical ordeals with faith and grace increases our resiliency to overcome the next ordeal. Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that, if our faith can not withstand the intellectual challenges from either nonbelievers or believers with different theologies, then we are also not growing the necessary mental anti-fragility that we need.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Good connection between how our body is strengthened and what God is doing in us through trials. What an amazing body we have that it can do this with viruses! But even more amazing is that God lives in us and empowers us, working all things for our good, so that we can be “anti-fragile!”

  2. Good one, Mel! I like to say all of God’s tests are an open book test! You have the book of answers right in front of you and you will pass it. Ha! I try not to tell people, that’s because when you don’t get it right the first 15 times, you get to just keep taking it over and over again… ..

    Something I really love about God’s tests, He already knows how we will do. We are the ones who don’t know ourselves. We aren’t tested for His benefit, we are tested for our own. We don’t know what we’re made of, we don’t know our own strength and weaknesses, we don’t know how dependent we are on God. Kind of like how God says of Job, “there’s no more righteous a man.” He already knows Job is awesome. He’s Dad bragging! Job’s victory is already assured before his trials even begin. Of course, poor Job probably didn’t realize that at the time.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Yes, God always gives us the answers to the test….He says, I set before you life and death…choose life! But, as you said, if we don’t pass, He lets us go around the mountain again…and again…and again…and… 🙂 We can’t fail!

      Our God is definitely a good Father and He has set us up in advance for victory! 🙂

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