There is a verse in the Doctrine and Covenants that has always amazed me. We read in D&C 20:22, speaking of Jesus Christ, that “He suffered temptations but gave no heed unto them.” How does one “suffer” temptations? And if there is indeed suffering and temptation, how did the Savior of the world give “no need” to those temptations the way we seem to on a daily basis?
I often like to parallel scriptures to my own life, and right now the “giving no heed” principle is an easy one. I can absolutely relate this principle to my own children. I have some amazing kids who have the uncanny ability to not hear a word I say — though I can definitely claim this as selective hearing, for they always come running when I call out “Dinner is ready” or “Your friends are at the door.”
They choose when to “give heed” and when to not. For them the answer is simple: if I don’t like what is being said or asked of me, I will simply choose to not respond.
The same can be said of heeding to temptations. When we give no heed to something, it’s almost as if we are using that selective listening talent. We can obviously hear or see what the temptation is, but we choose to ignore or not give credence to it. This is not always easy and we are not perfect like the Savior, but we can make the premeditated decision to not heed certain temptations when we are confronted by them. For example, I have never had the desire to smoke a cigarette. It has never appealed to me, perhaps because from a young age I decided that it was something I would never do.
Some sins may be easier than others to avoid and ignore, but do we have the capacity to make decisions early on so that even when the most alluring temptations arise, we will not be swayed by them? I would say that with the Lord’s help, we absolutely can. He has been presented with every temptation of every kind and yet “gave no heed” to them. He is truly the only one who can help us overcome our human weaknesses and frailties.
Next comes the question of how the word suffering applies, especially in regards to temptation and the Savior.
In the Bible Dictionary, the word suffer has two meanings; the first (and perhaps most applicable here) is “[t]o permit, allow.”
Jesus Christ allowed Satan to tempt Him. He even allowed this temptation to be at a time when He was vulnerable and physically drained, having fasted for forty days and forty nights. He is, however, master of all, and the temptations of Satan had no real pull on Him, though He was indeed suffering.
The second meaning in the Bible Dictionary defines suffering as “enduring and tolerating pain, affliction, or an uncomfortable situation.” Jesus did indeed have afflictions in His life, but He was perfect — so perhaps His suffering was for the sinner and the sin itself.
He suffers when we give heed to temptations and falter because of the frailties of man. I believe He even mourns for our pain when we suffer the consequences of our sins. After all, “men are, that they might have joy” and it is His “work and . . . glory . . . to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” Would it not make sense that the Savior “suffered” temptation in both ways?
He loves us with an unprecedented love that allows Him to feel sorrow when we sorrow, pain when we feel pain, and even to bleed from every pore to pay for those sins and sorrows. Should we not then “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling” before Him? Not out of fear of Him, but for the fear of hurting or offending Him. We need to focus our efforts on not giving heed to the temptations of men, instead looking to the Savior’s perfect example of how to turn the other cheek, walk away from a harmful situation, and look for ways to serve and love others when they struggle through temptation and sin. In this way, perhaps we can remove the suffering and replace it with lasting peace and pure forgiveness.
Janette Beverley is a lover of life, family, music, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy, and has five amazing children and one equally amazing husband. Janette is excited to be writing for LDS Blogs and sharing her love and passion for finding the miraculous among the mundane, the awe-inspiring among the obvious, and the uplifting among the underestimated. To read more of her work, you can visit Janette's personal blog here.