“For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
Temptation implies suffering – a struggle, a conflict. It is the opposition we face to what we want to do creating conflict internally within us. It is definitely not an enjoyable experience… “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”
Do not lose heart or be discouraged though. which, by the way, is what the enemy would want you to be – discouraged ans disillusioned. It is all calm and perfectly natural for the new person to experience this sort of internal conflict. You should not expect anything less with your new birth (John 3:5 – 6) and the arrival of the new, regenerated you (2 Cor 5:17). It does not stop there however, there is help and victory is guaranteed – wrought by Christ.
This discomfort or conflict experienced is what is termed suffering which was experienced by Christ too as a result of the temptation He faced. Hebrews 2:18 clearly implies that temptation is not without suffering and that Christ experienced it too. Christ’s qualification to provide help to those who are being tempted is precisely because he not only experienced temptation but suffered as a result of it too. The temptation he underwent was not an enjoyable or innocuous experience. There was pain involved. There was hardship. It was not an easy ride. He got to experience the same struggles we do.
For this reason He is qualified, not only to fulfil the role of a merciful and faithful high priest but of a sympathetic helper of those who are being tempted, who are experiencing the struggles He experienced. For further confirmation – if any is needed – and a significant postcript at the end of the verse, cue Hebrews 4:15: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
Christ’s qualifications to help those being tempted are impeccable. Furthermore, as our faultless High priest who has gone through the Heavens, “…He always lives to make intercession for them (ie us, ‘those who draw near to God through him’).” Hebrews 7:25. What support and help we have in Christ friends!
Some take home points then:
First, brace yourself for it, embrace temptation as part of life. You too will most certainly face temptation (of different kinds and sorts) and it will not be an enjoyable experience or an easy ride. Although not everyday and in everything, it will rear its ugly head nonetheless at significant stages, pressure points of your life. So prep yourself to face it when it does. Eliminate the element of surprise when it comes knocking at your door.
Second, do not expect temptation to always be an easy ride or without struggle/suffering. It is not. Rather, it will be uncomfortable and cause some form of suffering – emotional pain, internal conflict and maybe even physical discomfort. Struggle will be involved so neither be taken by surprise when you find yourself struggling or feeling the pain of it nor beat yourself up because you are experiencing suffering associated with it. It is the nature of temptation. And common to us all – 1 Peter 5:9.
Third, take comfort and courage in the the truth that Christ experienced the same struggles in the flesh and is not only able to sympathise with you but – here’s the great news – He is perfectly qualified to assist you too. Run to Him. Seek His help. Avail yourself of the help available to you from the the only One who is perfectly qualified to give it.
Never underestimate His help in your time of need.
Let us then with confidence (ooft!) draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.