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An interesting discussion has been taking place on this thread on the nature of temptation, especially with regards to Jesus -

(Sorry, but I am doing this without the editing possibilities of embedding links, hence the long link form above.)

So let me ask a few questions for us to discuss:

1) What is the nature of temptation for humans?
2) What was the nature of temptation for Christ in his time amongst us - what are the similarities and dissimilarities?

Feel free to add in other thoughts related to this topic.

Tags: Jesus, temptation

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I'll start with some thoughts:

1) Both we and Christ are/were tempted. (As an aside, I feel it a poor argument when some sect-cult groups argue that Jesus couldn't be divine/God because James 1:14-15 says God cannot be tempted but Jesus was tempted. It fails to engage with the reality of the incarnation.)

2) Temptation involves a choice where we must choose to partake or not partake of that temptation.

3) We, as sinful human beings, have an inclination/draw to choose to partake in the temptation/sin. Christ, as the divine Son of God, does not have the inclination/draw towards temptation/sin.

4) Though Christ does not have the sinful inclination/draw towards temptation, he was still presented with temptation and, thus, presented with a choice of partaking or not partaking of it. How often or how much is mere speculation. But I suppose that, because I believe temptation includes the choice to participate or not, Christ had the choice himself at times.

5) Because of this choice, which we also are presented with, Christ could have chosen to give in to the temptation, for again temptation must include the plausibility of choosing yes or no. But we know he conquered sin and never gave into it and was/is the sinless sacrifice.

6) Just as the first Adam prior to sin had a choice without sinful inclination and draw, so the second Adam was also presented with such choice. But whereas the first one failed, the second Adam fulfilled.

Those are some thoughts I have been having on this topic. I'd love to hear from all.

I suggest that Jesus did not have an inner struggle or the disordered desires of fallen human nature that we experience, which would be in line with James 1:13-14. He was a divine person who could not have sinned at any time.  His temptation came entirely from the suggestion of the devil and had nothing to do with an inner struggle. His "temptation" was a "test". Satan was testing Jesus' identity as the Son of God after hearing the Father's declaration in Mt 3:17.


I don't disagree that Jesus was presented with choices, but I just can't believe that Jesus could have chosen to sin. The implication would be that God can desire sin, or be complicite with it, or overpowered by it, or be the author and promoter of it (or however else you want to phrase it). How can God go against his own will?  




Any more thoughts on this topic?

1) This is an interdisciplinary dissertation-level question at least. But I would suppose it has to do with contemplation of an action that is contrary to God's righteousness and violates His law. Exercising the right of independant judgment and deciding on a given occasion that a given act is "better" for me, i.e. more to be desired than compliance with God's directives. E.g. God says don't eat X fruit, but I decide it's attractive, delicious and nourishing, and I'll go with my opinion over God's prohibition. Substitute bread for fruit. It is genuinely a good thing in this occasion, and nourishing oneself also a positive good. What is not good is disobeying an injunction to fast for a certain period. James says we are enticed by our desire. Desire can be perfectly good, in itself.


2) Christ's temptation was not similar to the temptation of a human--since He was and is human. Temptation is likened to fishing. The bait in this case included bread. Totally good desire, to eat to assuage hunger and nourish oneself. The trick is to make the subject (in this case Jesus) choose to fulfill this desire rather than His Father's instruction. I suppose there are at least two ways to refer to temptation. One external, to suggest making that choice, the other an internal pressure from the existence of that (legitimate) desire, to act on it rather than on another desire, that of valuing His Father's will. I take it that He did in fact suffer the pressure of this conflict. That He potentially could have chosen to eat the bread, I don't know, seems to me to be part of the picture here. It isn't that He never could but that He never would--His desire to honor the Father being greater than His desire to meet His physical needs.

I can agree with that for the most part.  I don't know if there was a ban on fasting though.  

1) The nature of temptation for humans is the draw to act upon our own desires over God's desires. It is Me First. It comes at us from various loci but we know that the World, the Devil, and our own Lusts are the biggest. The nature of our temptation is all the worse because Christ ups the ante on sin. I might be tempted to sleep with Bathsheba but thank goodness I didn't: I just did in my own mind.


2) Christ was tempted yet without sin. We don't know what that looks like mentally. That would be conjecture. Externally, we know that it wasn't merely "don't eat now, My Son." and then there's a draw to eat now. The temptations we see by His Satanic Majesty are of the order of the Son of God doing things which He had every right to do as God's anointed but was somehow constrained. So yes he could have turned rocks to food (I can't) but he wasn't supposed to. Yes, he could leap off the building and be caught by angels (I can't) but he wasn't supposed to test God. Yes, he would inherit all the kingdoms of the world and every knee would bow to Him (not me) but why go the hard way through a crown of thorns when he could grab them all here? Yes, he was to die but why not go ahead and not-die: shut your mouth Satan. 


We find a point where Christ could have done something else where he says "I could summon legions of angels and the Father would send them." Well, that doesn't sound like the potentiality of capitulating to sin and the Godhead being smeared black. It sounds like a real road that Christ could have taken but wouldn't have taken. The reason he says is that Scripture would have been broken. That is exceedingly different from me. Time and promises were tied to his activity--and yet he was really free. 


Whatever the Incarnation involved it was unique. It was exemplary. It was tied to all we know about God. It was mission-focused. It was definitively theological in that it revealed The Father. Hebrews 1 and Hebrews 2 reverberate with the tension. This would be a case where we would be forced to use our eyes to see what it looks like but all we see is back on the evidence.


We're in the dark here but what we shouldn't do is scratch out James 1:14-15 by after committing Deicide at the Incarnation or wipe away Hebrews 4:15 to get a proper Kal-El set up.


If I were to wander into the realm of fiction, I'd say that he was tempted as I am tempted but not tempted like how I'm tempted. Heavier to the Lighter is at play in my mind. He had all the power over the universe, able to wipe out history, and he humbled himself in obedience. Dreaming about Bathsheba is small potatoes when I could wipe out all of humanity with flames and angels. But if I dream of flame and angels when someone cuts me off on the road, how much greater the temptation without sin when the one who has every right to wipe out all the scum allows the scum to rise up on its hind legs and pin it's creator to a tree.

But I still wonder how much of a draw Jesus had to act on his own desires over God's desires? In other words, how much was Jesus' human will out of harmony with the divine will? I don't know. I have no doubt the World and the Devil tried to get Jesus to act a certain way, but I wonder how much of Jesus' own lust there was.


Rey -


I really appreciated what you said. I do agree that the nature of Christ's temptation might not have been so much about lust or greed or cheating, etc (though possibly, though that is pure conjecture), but more about utilising his divine power to do something to prove his divine nature. It really wows us to consider the nature of Christ to humbly submit to the Father and to have defeated the devil in not once succumbing to temptation. And not just with lust or greed, but with being recognised as the all-powerful One.


But whether it is more 'puny' temptations (for us) or more 'majestic' temptations (for Christ), I still think we must consider that the nature of temptation allows for a choice of saying yes or no to that temptation. And I think Christ walked through such. Hence why his high priesthood is so relevant to us (Heb 4:15), why he is able to actually emphathise with us. So when you and I walk through temptation, being tempted to give our yay to the temptation, we can cry out to the one who never succumbed to such (whether 'small' or 'significant'). He, in the flesh, never once gave in. We can rely on him and draw upon him as our high priest and intercessor.

I've had a hard time finding a suitable resource for the EO position on the question of impeccability; I'm not sure they've really resolved that issue or if they care that much about it.

Wonderful thread Scott, and a lot of interesting input, though I don't really believe that we will be able to come to any decisive answer on this one...


Not to obfuscate the matter further, but while the story of the Temptation in the desert is highly interesting, there are a couple of other incidents that pose questions about Jesus sinning - or being tempted to sin. 

The first is the story of the finding in the temple.  Surely Jesus was not where He was suppose to be or where His mother and (foster)father expected Him to be.  In any other case, we would say that the boy Jesus sinned against the commandment to, "Honor your father and mother". 

Then there is the incident of driving out the vendors at the temple.  This one is a bit less clear, but still Jesus preached against anger and called it sin and yet He grew angry and vented that anger, not at those responsible for allowing the vendors but at the vendors themselves who were engaged in their lawful trade and under lawful authority. 


I have heard many dismiss these as "they weren't sins because it was God (Jesus) doing them and God can't sin"  But by that logic, He could have turned the stones to bread and not sinned.  He could have tossed Himself from a parapet and not sinned.  The only thing He could not do would be bow before Satan...

To try and answer your questions...

1) The nature of temptations in humans is exactly the same as it was from the beginning, after the fall, having eaten of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and evil, we must live with those consequences which means that we must make decisions between good and evil (something we didn't know about before the fall).  So temptation is simply that conflict set up between our animal nature and our spirit nature....Which way will we go..


2) Temptation for Jesus (the man) was exactly the same as for other humans, with one exception, the quality and quantity of Grace available for Him to call upon for strength.


I have some speculative opinions on this matter but will leave those out for now. 






James (JKRH) -


You said: In any other case, we would say that the boy Jesus sinned against the commandment to, "Honor your father and mother".


Did you mean? In any other case, we would NOT say that the boy Jesus sinned against the commandment to, "Honor your father and mother".


You answered question 2 with this: Temptation for Jesus (the man) was exactly the same as for other humans, with one exception, the quality and quantity of Grace available for Him to call upon for strength.


Before our new birth, I would agree. But do we not have the same quality and quantity of grace available to us as did Christ since we are in Christ and indwelt by the same empowering Spirit Christ had?

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