“He was there in the wilderness…tempted by Satan.” Many times we are tempted to believe that Satan is the strongest in the busiest and most crowded areas of our lives. Those areas where we find the greatest number of people and opportunities to sin. That is a fatal mistake. I believe that the greatest location of temptation is not in the hustle and bustle of a crowd, but in the stillness and quietness of the wilderness.
This truth is seen repeatedly in the pages of scripture. It is not in their hours of public service that the powerful men of the past have fallen; rather it has been in the quietest hours of their personal life.
Think about Moses. He never wavered or stumbled while he was standing before and speaking to Pharaoh. He never fell even as he was fleeing from Pharaoh and his army. No, it was out in the desert, when he was tired and impatient that he finally fell.
Think of David. He never stumbled in the days when he was fighting his way through the forces of his enemies. Rather, it was after the battle was over, when he was safe and secure – resting within the walls of his own palace – that he reached out and took that which wasn’t his.
The greatest temptations are not those that are the loudest spoken, but those with the softest echo. It is far easier to put aside your besetting sin in the midst of a cloud of witnesses than in the privacy of your own room. That sin that besets you is never so besetting as when you are by yourself. You may speak kindly and graciously to that man that you hate when you see him in public, but make up for it when you are all alone. You see, it is our own thoughts that do the most damage and we tend to do most of our thinking when we are alone with ourselves.
Paul says that we are never so vulnerable, we never have a greater need for our spiritual armor, than when we have defeated our outward enemy. He tells us in Ephesians 6:13 to “… take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
That’s where I most need the Lord’s help with my thoughts – in the wilderness. Others can help me in the city square. Others can give me counsel at a time of celebration. Others can intervene in the meetings of a multitude. But only He can help me in my wilderness. That is where I most need His strength.
I have lived my life trying to be separated from the temptations of life, but I find when I relax, when I rest, that is when the temptations of life most often come to my mind. Temptation resides in my own soul. It is an artist who paints in my own heart. It is not when I go to celebrate a wedding in Cana that I most need my Lord, but rather when I hear music and dancing and because I’m jealous of my brother, I refuse to go in. That is my wilderness moment – when I cut myself off from the strength of other believers.
That’s why I ask the Lord to meet me in my moments of temptation. I ask Him to meet with me when I cut myself off from those around me. When I lose the voices of the crowd, when I begin to walk in the wilderness – alone. That is when I need His strength the most. It is there, when He is with me, that He will break the worldliness of the wilderness in my own heart.