What happens when we fail the test/temptation?
The temptation/test of Christ by Satan in the wilderness gives us great insight into how to overcome the enemy. Countless lessons can be learned by his example. Indeed, especially according to Luke's version, Jesus (the second Adam) succeeded where the first Adam failed every test: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Many times I have tried to learn from the Master, refusing to give in to my fleshly desires (life is more than eating!), to the delight of my eyes ("can't buy me love, no"), and to the pride of life (God plays no favorites).
But, here's the strange part: when I say "not my will but thine" and refuse to give into temptation, nothing sensational happens. I don't have a sense of accomplishment, I don't feel proud of myself. There's no euphoria, "Wow. I showed the enemy!" In fact, oftentimes these "victories" are accompanied by a sense of loss, of emptiness, indeed, as if God is not present at all--like I've missed out on something.
And yet, what happens when I fail the test, give into temptation, let God down, is an altogether different experience.
First, I beat myself up. "Come on, Rodney, you know better than this. How many times are you going to go down the same path?"
Next, I turn to God in frustration, "What's wrong with me, God?"
Sometimes I make the futile promise, "I'll never sin again!"
Then, I confess (one more time; really? One more time?) that I have sinned, that I need God's forgiveness, that I need the Spirit's power, that I'm tired of this, that I need healing.
Sometimes I remember that Jesus overcame Satan--not only in the desert, but also in the Garden. And, because he overcame the test/temptation, we have the cleansing, the forgiveness, the hope, the power, the salvation of our Lord.
Then, I sense the presence of the Lord, what I've gained through Christ (He's saved me!), that God won't give up on me, or any one of us.
In other words, I'm beginning to see more and more that God loves to "show up" in the midst of our failures. The cross of Jesus Christ proves it. So, how can Satan win, when the cross was supposed to be his final blow against humanity, the ultimate test, the last temptation of Christ?