By Dr. Dave Watson
Human beings do better in community. We are social beings and no one is an island to themselves. We need others. All clichés, but all true. This is a fact. We are social beings created in the image of a God who is revealed to us as a social being, three persons in One essence (The Trinity – Matthew 28:19-20).
There is great spiritual danger when we withdraw from others. That is because an individual often pulls away so that they can do what they want to do without others interfering. Proverbs 18:1 tells us that “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” Because of the dangers involved in going it alone, Ecclesiastes 4:11-12 reminds that “Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
On account of COVID-19 we are all physically isolating on some level or another from each another. Because of this isolation, it is my opinion that we are more vulnerable to temptation. We are alone. We have idle time on our hands. We are out of sync schedule wise. We may be discouraged or feel somewhat deserted at times. That is why I believe we are so vulnerable.
Let me suggest five simple things we can do to deal with temptation in the time of isolation. In examining the life of Jesus, who is our example as well as Lord and Savior, we note a time that He was isolated. We also see how He handled the temptations that came His way in that isolation. Let’s look at Luke 4:1-13, aptly titled Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, to learn from His example. Please read it now then check out my thoughts below.
As we read the story we find the first principle in Luke 4:1 which says “And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness”
- In our isolation we need to be controlled and led by the Holy Spirit. If Jesus needed to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, how much more you and I. Galatians 5:16 exhorts us, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” This is the time we need to walk as close to God as we possibly can. Walking in the Spirit means being dependent on and controlled by the Holy Spirit every step of the way.
Next, we read in Luke 4:2 that “For forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry.”
- In our isolation we need to recognize that we are indeed vulnerable and that this could go on for a while. Remember, 1 Corinthians 10:12 tells us, “Let him who thinks he stand, take heeds, lest he fall.” You and I most humbly admit to the Lord that we can’t stand alone. We need His help. We are vulnerable. We could fail or fall or both.
In Luke 4:3-12 we read of Jesus being tempted in three areas: the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life.
- In our isolation we need to be aware of the areas in which we will be tempted. 1 John 2:15-16 reflects this saying: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.” We will be tempted or are being tempted in one or all three of these areas as we are isolated. Count on it.
Also, in Luke 4:3-12 we see Jesus using the Word of God to combat temptation. Three times He says “it is written” as He does battle with Satan and temptation.
- In our isolation we need to be familiar with and use the Scriptures to deal with temptation. We are told in Ephesians 6:17, “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” The Word is our best weapon in this hand to hand combat we do with temptation.
Finally, in Luke 4:13 we read that “when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.” In other words, this was not the last of Jesus being tempted by the devil.
- In our isolation we need to know that beating temptation once doesn’t mean we are done with temptation. It will visit it again. It will find another “opportune time.” Jesus told his disciples to “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)
In overcoming the temptations He faced in Luke 4 our Lord is giving us a model for overcoming the temptations we will face in and out of isolation. He isolated himself purposefully. We would be wise not to isolate ourselves unless we absolutely have too. He had to be tempted from the outside. Most of our temptations come from within. James tells us that “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15).
In closing let’s have a little review by way of a few simple questions.
- Am I right now being controlled by the Holy Spirit? If there is any doubt, I need to take a few moments and confess my sins to the Lord and yield myself to Him to control me and fill me with His Holy Spirit. I need the Spiritual power that comes from Him.
- Am I right now aware of how spiritually dangerous being isolated can be? If my attitude is or has been “I got this,” I need to humbly come before the Lord and let Him deal with my arrogance and pride. Pride really does come before a fall (Proverbs 16:18)
- Am I right now aware of the areas that temptation could hit me? Am I aware of my Achilles heel, the area I am must vulnerable in? If not, maybe I need to walk thru what the desires of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the pride of life look like in my life and assess my weaknesses. There is a good chance I am being tempted in one of these areas right now.
- Am I a person who has the Word of God at the ready to face temptation? If not, maybe I need to make a file card list of Bible verses that I have at my disposal to deal with the temptations that I face.
- Finally, am I a person who has let down their guard having had some success against temptation? Surely, we all need to be remembering that one battle does not win the whole war. Temptation will always be an issue for us.
Jesus gives us an amazing example in Luke 4 of how to deal with temptation. He demonstrates the truths for dealing with temptation while alone for 40 days in the wilderness. Each of us need to latch onto how Jesus dealt with temptation in this story. As we do, we will have success in our own temptation in isolation.
Dr. David Watson is the senior pastor at Calvary Chapel Staten Island. This article was reprinted from his blog, https://nycshepherd.com/.