During his closing remarks at the October 2018 General Conference, President Russell M. Nelson said, “I promise that as you diligently work to remodel your home into a center of gospel learning, over time your Sabbath days will truly be a delight. Your children will be excited to learn and to live the Savior’s teachings, and the influence of the adversary in your life and in your home will decrease. Changes in your family will be dramatic and sustaining.” (“Becoming Exemplary Latter-day Saints” Ensign, Nov. 2018, 113; italics added).
What wonderful promises from a prophet of God! Nephi made similar promises saying that if we will “hearken unto the word of God,” we will never be overpowered or deceived by the adversary (1 Nephi 15:24). We have been commanded to teach our children, and we need the Lord’s help. We must pray always that we “may conquer Satan,” and that we “may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work” (Doctrine & Covenants 10:5).
This week, the overarching theme for our “home-centered lesson” in Come Follow Me--For Individuals and Families is “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me.” While each lesson offers a variety of ideas to pursue, President Nelson’s aforementioned promises inspire a closer look at Christ’s character and His example in resisting temptation.
How Can We Learn from the Savior’s Example of Overcoming Temptation?
A key element in the plan of salvation is experiencing trials and temptations during our earthly sojourn. We need not feel guilty when tempted to sin. As we learn in Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13, even the Savior was tempted. Following His baptism by John the Baptist, the Savior prepared to commence His earthly ministry by fasting for forty days. Satan was eager to plant doubt in the Savior’s mind. Alone, and in the wilderness, Satan repeatedly tempted the Son of God to misuse His powers and forget His earthly mission. He who was without sin both faced and overcame temptation. Because Christ knows the temptations we face, He is able to help us overcome our own temptations.
Elder David A. Bednar said, “It is interesting to note that the overarching and fundamental challenge to the Savior in each of these three temptations is contained in the taunting statement, ‘If thou be the Son of God.’ Satan's strategy, in essence, was to dare the Son of God to improperly demonstrate His God-given powers, to sacrifice meekness and modesty, and, thereby, betray who He was. Thus, Satan attempted repeatedly to attack Jesus' understanding of who He was and of His relationship with His Father. Jesus was victorious in meeting and overcoming the strategy of Satan.” (“The Character of Christ” Brigham Young University-Idaho Religion Symposium January 25, 2003).
Remember Who We Are and Our Purpose
Like the Savior, we must remember who we are and our mission in mortality. The adversary’s strategy is to hide our true identity. We are sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, and we have a divine nature and worth. We covenant to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ and to love as He loved, give as He gave, and serve as He served. In this, we can help God “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).
The Savior withstood the temptations of Satan, in part, because He remembered his identity and purpose. Before the adversary departed, Christ told Satan, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Matthew 4:7). Jesus then went immediately into Galilee to a synagogue where He shared this scripture: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18). After he finished reading, the Savior said, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:21)
Obedience and Scripture Study Strengthen Our Resolve
Each of the Savior’s responses to Satan’s temptations included the phrase, “It is written” (Matthew 4:4; 7; 10). Christ’s knowledge of the scriptures prepared and strengthened Him to turn aside from temptation. The Savior later taught, “Whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived” (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:37).
While serving as a member of the Seventy, Elder Merrill J. Bateman noted the strength that scripture study provides against temptation: “There are certain blessings obtained when one searches the scriptures. As a person studies the words of the Lord and obeys them, he or she draws closer to the Savior and obtains a greater desire to live a righteous life. The power to resist temptation increases, and spiritual weaknesses are overcome” (“Coming unto Christ by Searching the Scriptures,” Ensign, Nov. 1992)
Heavenly Father gives us commandments because He loves us, and He wants us to become like Him. He knows what is best for us and what we need to do to return home to Him. Being obedient to God’s commandments brings happiness and strengthens us physically and spiritually. As Jesus instructed his followers, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).
Heed Not Satan’s Temptations
If we center our lives on Jesus Christ, humble ourselves before God, and pray continually for strength, we can use our agency to choose good instead of evil. Elder Neal A. Maxwell describes the Savior’s example in resisting temptation: “By emulating the Master, who endured temptations but ‘gave no heed unto them,’ (Doctrine & Covenants 20:22) we, too, can live in a world filled with temptations ‘such as [are] common to man’ (1 Corinthians 10:13). Of course Jesus noticed the tremendous temptations that came to Him, but He did not process and reprocess them. Instead, he rejected them promptly. If we entertain temptations, soon they begin entertaining us!” (“Overcome … Even As I Also Overcame,” Ensign, May 1987, 71)
Study Christ’s Character and Emulate His Example
The Savior must have been physically and spiritually drained following His forty day fast and encounter with Satan. “Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him” (Matthew 4:11). This week’s Come Follow Me For--For Individuals and Families lesson encourages us to read the Joseph Smith translation of Matthew 4:11: “And now Jesus knew that John was cast into prison, and he sent angels, and, behold, they came and ministered unto him” [John the Baptist]. (JST Matthew 4:11).
Elder Bednar said: “the additions found in the JST completely change our understanding of this event. Angels did not come and minister to the Savior; rather, the Savior, in His own state of spiritual, mental, and physical distress, sent angels to minister to John...it is important for us to recognize that Jesus in the midst of His own challenge recognized and appropriately responded to John—who was experiencing a similar but lesser challenge than that of the Savior's. Thus, the character of Christ is manifested as He reached outward and ministered to one who was suffering—even as He himself was experiencing anguish and torment.” (David A. Bednar, “The Character of Christ”).
Pray for Strength
When the resurrected Savior came to the Nephites, He taught the multitude: “Ye must watch and pray always lest ye enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name” (3 Nephi 18:18-19).
President Russell M. Nelson said: “Our prayers follow patterns and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. He taught us how to pray” (“Lessons from the Lord’s Prayers” Ensign May 2009). As latter-day scripture direct, “I give unto you a commandment that ye shall continue in prayer and fasting from this time forth” (Doctrine & Covenants 88:76). By repeatedly praying and fasting, we will be able to withstand the temptations each of us will face.