"We can scarcely become like Jesus if we do wrong things or fall away, and a common cause of falling away is temptation," wrote Elder Neal A. Maxwell in one of his books, Even as I Am. "We are to `do likewise' regarding temptation, for the cease-and-desist requirements of gospel living are as vital as the start-and-persist portions.
"Examining the temptations of Christ can be very instructive, particularly what we know about His forty days in solitary seclusion. There, while fasting and praying, He met temptations beyond those we can imagine. Even so, He set a pattern for us in surmounting temptation. Without our doing likewise, we could scarcely begin to be like Him."Elder Maxwell wrote of the Savior's "special days of stress in the wilderness," and noted it is not surprising that Satan appeared at a "time of maximum vulnerability," when Jesus was hungry, tired and physically weakened. That time, Elder Maxwell wrote, might have been the most difficult of all for the Savior, except for those later hours in Gethsemane and on Calvary.
Elder Maxwell wrote of Satan's cunning use of doubt in challenging Jesus: "If thou be the Son of God, command these stones be made bread." (Emphasis added.)
"Count on Satan . . . to know what questions to put," Elder Maxwell wrote. "In a moment of unimaginable hunger and of possible doubt of the Father and of self, the adversary, diabolically, did not select lesser temptations. Lucifer went for the jugular! So it is with us. Our temptations, small or large, seem to match the moment. The evil one also avoids that which is most apt to be deflected by us."
The scriptures record that Jesus "gave no heed" to the temptations, but turned from them immediately. Elder Maxwell noted: "He
the SaviorT did not temporize with temptations. He `yielded not.' And neither should we.
"Brooding over temptations can produce self-pity and a false sense of nobility. Prolonged consideration of a temptation only increases the risks - but it does not increase our options: the two options and the consequences remain the same regardless of our dallying.
"Moreover, protracted consideration of a temptation does not increase the justification to succumb, only our rationalization. When we are well taught, we know, initially, what must be done. Therefore, to give heed to temptation is, in effect, to `give place' for Satan's seed to grow and sprout and to bring forth its bitter harvest."