is well to review both accounts:
Mat 4:1-11 NIV
Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. (2) After fasting forty days and forty nights, he
was hungry. (3) The tempter came to him and
said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become
bread." (4) Jesus answered, "It is
written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from
the mouth of God.'" (5) Then the devil took him to the holy city and had
him stand on the highest point of the temple. (6)
"If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For
it is written:
" 'He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'" (7)
Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to
the test.'" (8) Again, the devil took him to a very high
mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. (9) "All this I will give you," he said,
"if you will bow down and worship me." (10)
Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord
your God, and serve him only.'"
(11) Then the devil left him, and angels came
and attended him.
Luk 4:1-13 NIV
full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in
the desert, (2) where for forty days he was
tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them
he was hungry. (3) The devil said to him,
"If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread." (4) Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does
not live on bread alone.'" (5) The devil led him up to a high place and showed
him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. (6)
And he said to him, "I will give you all their authority and splendor, for
it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. (7) So if you worship me, it will all be
yours." (8) Jesus answered, "It is
written: 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'" (9)
The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the
temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself
down from here. (10) For it is written:
" 'He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you carefully; (11) they will lift
you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'" (12)
Jesus answered, "It says: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" (13)
When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune
study of Satan and all his techniques is beyond the scope of this lesson;
however, it is helpful to know some of what the enemy is doing.
the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness for the specific purpose of
allowing Satan to tempt him is beyond doubt. But why did Satan agree?
a forty day fast must be a spiritual “high.” It is at times like this
that we grow overconfident in our abilities to resist temptation.
successful, the fact that we started with a “high” means that the “low”
following will be a very deep one indeed. (“I can’t believe I did that!”)
spirit may be at a high, but the body is at a low – famished. Satan’s
hope is that the body will ride over the spirit. This should not be; but
when the body is at a low, we sometimes forget this.
it’s not how you see your spiritual state but how Satan sees his opportunity
that determines his time to strike.
does Satan do this in the wilderness? Wouldn’t it produce better results for
him if this was in front of a crowd?
seems much less of a problem when you can say, “No one will ever know.”
For some of us, the eye of the crowd is a sufficient deterrent to many
sins. (Example: “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”)
failure then becomes a guilty secret – which is a favorite handle for
Satan. Remember Bathsheba – and the rape of Tamar?
David could do nothing for fear that his children would throw Bathsheba
back in his face.
yet, it gives us plenty of time to think up some self-justification. This
quickly defiles the conscience, leading to more and worse sin.
more opportune time…”
fails. But he doesn’t give up. Like all villains, he is endowed with certain
virtues, without which he would be ineffective. In this instance, it’s
persistence. So do recall that the temptation has not gone away – it’s just
gone away until Satan finds a more opportune time.
what time might that be? The next instance of temptation for Christ is found
at the end of his ministry, in the Garden of Gethsemane. Again, the flesh is
weak. Even more opportune is the fear the moment produces. Fear? Read the
accounts; you will see that Christ was overcoming his natural fear of death.
That was his temptation in the garden; don’t go through death, rather call for
a few billion angels and set yourself up in charge. In charge, but not the
atonement we need so much.
is often combined with temptation. In the early days of the church a problem
arose with those who had denied the faith during the Diocletian persecution.
Those who did so now wanted back into the church. Some of those in the church
worshipped separately, denying these people fellowship unless they were
baptized again. The Montanist controversy is no longer with us, but it does
point out how one person’s succumbing to temptation can bring trouble to the
church as a whole.
Nature of Temptation
ancient world divides temptation into three categories: the flesh, the world
and the spirit (which means pride).
easy one to identify, at least in men, by hormone level. But in this instance
it is hunger that is used to enable temptation. See how:
you are the son of God…” If? It’s an attempt to plant doubt; are you
really who you think you are Jesus, or just delusional? Surely you’d want
to clear that up?
is this matter of stones to bread. In the natural world (created through
Christ) stones do not become bread. It’s a temptation to show off;
indeed, to “put Satan in his place.” It is not what the humble and
obedient would do.
ancients listed three deadly sins as sins of the flesh. They are lust,
gluttony and anger. Or, a little easier to memorize perhaps, babes, bread and
temptations of the world are envy, greed and sloth. These are easy to memorize
too – all you need to do is think of politics:
– the prime “virtue” of the liberal Democrats.
– the prime “virtue” of the conservative Republicans.
– the prime “virtue” of those too lazy to vote.
world’s temptations tend to come more slowly and stay longer than the sins of
the flesh. They are therefore the more deadly. One of the reasons they are so
effective is this: the world is genuinely Satan’s to give. But like anything
from the prince of evil it has a soul-tearing hook in it. Because they take
longer to mature we have more time to defile our consciences with
self-justification. Then too, they look rather trivial at first – but give
Satan the handle of secret sin.
is the deadliest of sins. Those taken with the sins of the flesh were told to
go and sin no more; those taken with the sins of the world were told to repay
and repent. Those whose pride was paramount became the objects of Christ’s
wrath. Satan is well content to cure your problem with lust or gluttony by
giving you a Pharisee’s pride.
the nature of pride – the word “arrogance” might be more like it today. It
consists of looking down on other people. It’s a competitive sport, and it is
often accompanied by what appears to be victory over lesser sins. C. S. Lewis
once called it the “complete anti-God state of mind.”
for the Christian
is of no service to the Christian to point out these sins if there is no
counter to them. Therefore it is our duty to list those things which are
essential in defense.
may examine this passage with the intent of collecting the daily habits which
will prove useful in resisting temptation.
please, that Christ is led into the wilderness not by wandering or by
Satan but by the Holy Spirit. Therefore we say “do not quench the
Spirit.” Make awareness of this guide your goal.
defense comes from the Scriptures. In particular, we may note two things:
first, Christ quotes it – which means he must have memorized it. Second,
he relies upon the authority of the Scriptures. Satan loves it when we
pick and choose what verses to believe.
we see the habit of regular prayer, valid both for prevention and
me if these seem obvious:
– maintaining fellowship with your fellow Christians, asking their prayers
and aid in dealing with temptation – these things are the benefits of
your mind on the right things, not the wrong ones. Sometimes you just
have to tell Satan to shut up and go away by thinking about something
that all three of the verses Christ quotes come from instances in which
the nation of Israel sinned. In other words, they come from bad
examples. Do not let your bad examples beset you; rather, learn from
these tips for the combat:
Satan – if you do, he flees.
Christ knows what you are going through, as he’s been there himself.
He is not cold and distant, but a fellow sufferer – and example.
remember that there is no alliance between God and Satan
- so there is no sense trying to set one up.
you this day whom you will serve.