It is noteworthy that the temptation of Jesus is so closely linked to His baptism. Jesus is baptized – essentially marked out as the Son of God, anointed the Messiah-King, associated with sinners – and then He is tested by Satan. We should mark it down that becoming believers does not mean we are going to have an “easier” life now. The Scripture tells us that under God’s sovereignty, Satan is the ruler of this world. He is our adversary that walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. When our own desires attempt to draw us away and entice us or when Satan appears on the scene seeking to devour us we must have some preparation for defense.
In this passage Jesus teaches us what it means for God’s strength to be made perfect in weakness. He teaches us that the Word of God will well up in our hearts in defense against the adversary if we have first hidden it in our hearts. I invite you to read Matthew 4:1-11 with me…
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
This account could only have been made known to the disciples by Jesus Himself. There was no journalist out in the desert recording these events. So we learn how Jesus views Himself, being human and being the Son of God. Also, we learn how Jesus views Satan and spiritual battle.
The first thing that jumps out to me is that the Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness. This tells me that Jesus does not work independently from the other persons of God; all three continuously work in full cooperation.
We learn from the very first verse that the central reason that Jesus was led into the wilderness was to be tempted by the devil. Now the devil is not some kind of mythical creature. He is not a figment of our imagination. The Scripture makes it obvious that the devil, Satan, is a real being.
This account is more than symbolic. The Spirit truly led Jesus into the desert where He fasted for forty days. This gave ample opportunity for Satan to come and tempt Him. Jesus, we are told, was hungry and surely His physical body was weak. I do think that Satan appeared to Him there in the desert and with stones lying around them said, “Command that these stones become bread.” What better temptation for a hungry man? Now the next two temptations are more difficult to understand. Did they really travel great lengths to two more locations? I think it is more appropriate to suggest that these two were visionary. And this is exactly what Satan does with us, isn’t it? Many times Satan will put something physically right before us and other times he works on our weak consciences. Many times he forces us to struggle with things inwardly.
Three TemptationsTemptation 1 –
Devil- “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
Christ- “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”
Would Christ use His Sonship in an inconsistent way with God’s purpose? (Same as Matt 27:40) Remember, as the Son of God/Son of Man, Christ emptied Himself of the independent use of His divine attributes. Jesus’ food was to do the will of His Father (John 4:34).
Temptation 2 –
Devil- Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘ He shall give His angels charge over you, and, ‘ In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”
Christ- “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’”
Jesus knew that though Scripture promised help in times of need that intentionally testing God was forbidden. Like the first temptation, this one would go against the plan of God. There was a story that circulated among the Jews that when the Messiah came He would appear at the highest point of the Temple and throw Himself down without injury. Jesus could have taken a short-cut to fame and adoration as the Messiah. Jesus CHOSE to SERVE the Father, not vice-versa.
Temptation 3 –
Devil- the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”
Christ- “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”
This would side-step the cross. It would give a shortcut to Messianic authority. From the get-go Jesus had the intention of Messianic authority and of being the suffering servant. There is no subtlety in this offer. Rather, there is a pure choice of allegiance. Jesus’ response is authoritative. He not only cuts the interview short, but expels Satan (adversary). We see that Jesus was in full control of the situation throughout and finally sends the tempter away. That “the devil left Him” says a whole lot. Jesus could have said this in the beginning, right? Instead He submitted to this testing as the Son of Man. He identified Himself with mankind in His baptism and He also associated Himself with us by submitting to the testing of the adversary.
Point 1: Some see a comparison with 1 John 2:16A. Temptation 1- Lust of the Flesh; Temptation 2- Pride of Life; Temptation 3- Lust of the Eyes
B. These are the three ways that Satan can tempt us.
C. These are the three categories that all sins fall into.
D. As I said on a recent Wednesday night, we all sin within these three categories, yet Christians seem to fall into the Pride of Life quite often. The fact of the matter is we tend to do it for righteousness sake and we are dead wrong! Sin is offensive to God whether it be blatant immorality or mere arrogance.
Point 2: Scripture- Tempting and DefendingA. Satan Uses Scripture to Test
a. As we have seen, Satan quotes Scripture to the Lord in order to tempt Him.
b. Satan knows the Scripture and can twist it with the slightest turn. He can misapply it without us even realizing if we aren’t careful.
B. Christ Uses Scripture to Defend
a. What is Christ’s ONLY defense mechanism? Answer- Scripture
b. Two of the three quotes are from Deuteronomy C6 and one is from C8.
c. This was not some kind of passive, hunker-down defense mode. It was an active resistance using the Word of God. Ephesians 6:17 tells us to take up the “sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” The Spirit’s sword, Christ’s sword, our sword is the Word of God.
d. So you say, that is good, but how do I employ Scripture as my defense?
1. Devote yourself to the assembly- corporate teaching and preaching
2. Delight in the instruction of the Lord and Meditate on it
3. Memorize large chunks and small parts
Let it be known- we will be tested. We put ourselves in situations that test us and Satan (or one of his associates) comes to tempt us on many occasions. We should take courage though. Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
We have no excuse. We have been warned. We have been taught. We have been equipped.
Most importantly, we have One who has gone before us that has conquered the flesh and Satan.
Though Adam was tempted and fell, Christ was tempted and succeeded!
Though Israel was tempted and overwhelmed, Christ was tempted and overcame!
I leave you with Hebrews 4:15-
“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses,
but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”