For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.Hebrews 2:18
“Put on your coat.”
It surprises me how often I have to say this as a dad … in winter … in Minnesota.
Most of the time when I say it it’s because one of my girls just forgot to put their coat on when we’re just about ready to walk out the door. Sometimes they simply don’t want to wear one.
A coat is a great thing to have when it’s cold outside, but only if you wear it. It does you no good hanging in your closet if you’re outside in below-zero temps. The Apostle Paul made this point to the Ephesians when describing the armor of God. “Put on the whole armor of God,” he wrote, “that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11) Like a coat that helps us in the cold or armor that helps us in battle, Hebrews 2:18 says Jesus is able to help us with temptation. But we need to use his help. We need to put it on.
So how does he help and how can we apply his help to our lives?
First, Christ helps us with temptation by instructing us to pray that we don’t even see it to begin with. In Matthew 6:13, Jesus instructs his disciples to pray, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Similarly, as the hour of Jesus’ arrest and trial approached, Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane. He instructed his disciples to do the same, saying, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (Matthew 26:41) In both instances, Jesus helped his disciples by instructing them to pray to avoid temptation in the first place.
Second, Jesus also helps us with temptation by pointing us to God’s Word. In Matthew 4, as the devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness, Jesus refuted each temptation by turning to God’s Word. “It is written,” he repeatedly said as he countered each lie with the truth of Scripture. His reliance on God’s Word to fight temptation encourages us to likewise turn to God’s Word to fight our own temptations.
A third help we find in temptation is one of God’s precious and great promises to us. First Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” Knowing that God promises to always provide a way to escape temptation should lead us to look for that escape when temptation arrives. He will never bring us into a situation where the only option is to sin. He provides the escape route. We need to follow it.
Finally, Hebrews 2:18 connects Jesus’ help in our temptation to his own temptation and suffering. “Because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Hebrews 4:15 further says he sympathizes with us because he knows exactly what we’re going through. He’s not an aloof, distant, and disconnected king who has never known the trials of the peasants in his kingdom. No, he left his throne, lived among us, and experienced all that we experience. Yet where we fail miserably in the face of temptation, Jesus lived without sin. Because he left his throne for us, we can now “draw near to the throne of grace to receive mercy and grace in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) How can we “draw near?” Draw near through prayer (Philippians 4:6-7). Draw near through faith (Hebrews 11:6). And draw near through obedience (John 14:21-23).
But like the coat on a cold day, we need to use his help in our fight against temptation for it to be of any value to us. If we forget his help, neglect his help, or refuse his help, his help will be no good to us. We’ll instead rely on our own strength, our own wisdom, and our own abilities to fight temptation. Anyone trying to fight temptation apart from the help of Christ will eventually fail. His help is available to us, so we must heed his instruction to pray, turn to Scripture, follow his escape route, and draw near to the throne of grace.