delivered on 10/30/16
4 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 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.’7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you,[d] Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve. 11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
A husband took his young daughter to the grocery store to help him buy groceries. In addition to the healthy items on his wife’s carefully prepared list, the two of them returned home with one of those big bags of M&Ms. His wife said "Why did you buy this?" his wife asked. "You know M&Ms aren’t good for you!" The husband said "don’t worry, honey, this bag of M&Ms has one-third less calories than usual." The wife looks over the package. She says, "What makes you think that there are one-third less calories than usual?" The husband says "Well, we ate about a third of the bag on the way home, so there’s one-third less calories than usual!"
How many of you have heard the expression “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak?” We all have areas in our lives where the flesh is weak. Since the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, temptation has been a constant, unrelenting part of human life. Men have tried to avoid, resist or ignore it. But no person has ever found a place or a circumstance that can make him safe from temptation.
In our text this afternoon, we are looking at the most monumental and mysterious spiritual battles of all time is recounted-the personal confrontation between Jesus Christ and Satan. The devil’s temptations directed at Jesus in the wilderness (of Judea) were observed by no other human being. He was entirely alone, and it is therefore obvious that we could know nothing of what transpired there unless Jesus Himself had told His disciples of it. He does so to reveal to us the victory secret of His momentous struggle with Satan. The encounter with Satan occurred immediately after Jesus’ baptism, where The Father proclaimed out of heaven…
17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
When God speaks to you, Satan strikes at you. When God fills you, the devil fights you! Our text demonstrates why Jesus was well-pleasing to His Father. Jesus listened to His Father’s Word and applied His Word to His daily life.
The purpose Matthew’s recounting this event is to demonstrate the pattern of Jesus’ victory over temptation and sin, a pattern that Jesus longs to share with all who belong to Him. When we face testing and temptation we too can be victorious over the adversary’s attempts to corrupt us and to usurp the Lord’s rightful place in our lives. May we also look at this passage and learn how to stand strong in time of battle and find the same victory Jesus found over the enemy of our soul.
The momentous encounter that Matthew here describes, and from which believers can gain such help and encouragement, may be divided into three parts for our study…
The preparation, The temptation, and The triumph. ( Power point )
The goal and aim of all believers is to please God. We all would love to hear that our life is pleasing to God. But it caused a showdown in the desert, between good and evil, between light and darkness, between obedience and disobedience, between Jesus and Satan, and it will cause the same in us. Satan wants to test, try, and devour all those who are pleasing God in any way, at any level. Jesus had the testimony of Enoch, "that he pleased God," but His commitment (Jesus) is about to be tested as we see in verse 1.
4 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
Did any of you catch that? “Jesus was lead by the Spirit”. ( Big “S” ) Although God Himself tempts no one. As we can read on James 1:13
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.
Our temptations are included in His sovereign plan for our good. If we overcome, we are strengthened, if we succumb, we recognize more clearly our need for further sanctification and grace.
The devil’s purpose is to frustrate the plan of God and to usurp the place of God. Yet God often uses Satan’s tempting to evil as His own means of testing for good.
What Satan intended to lead the Son into sin and disobedience, the Father used to demonstrate the Son’s holiness and worthiness. That is God’s plan for all of His children. Christians cannot be tempted in a way that God cannot use for their good and His glory.
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
God’s plan and purpose is to use Satan’s temptations as a means of testing and strengthening our faith in Him and as a means of our growing stronger in righteousness. God allows testings in our lives in order that our spiritual “muscles” may be exercised and strengthened. Whether it is a testing by God’s initiative or a temptation sent by Satan, God will always use it to produce good in us when we meet the test in His power.
2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry.
In verse 2 we read a understatement of Jesus’ physical condition in which He underwent His time of testing. At the conclusion of this time of full concentration upon God Jesus became hungry. It may be that He was so caught up in His communion in the Spirit with the Father that He did not notice His hunger. Hunger not only makes us physically weak but also tends to weaken our moral and spiritual resistance as well.
When we are tired, hungry, or sick we are usually less concerned about other needs and dangers and tend to be vulnerable to anything that might provide relief from our present distress. Satan may attack more fiercely during times of weakness, unawareness or unpreparedness. Temptations that have been anticipated, guarded against, and prayed about have less power to harm us.
38 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Victory over temptation comes from a constant abiding in the Spirit and the Word of God. Fasting is a form of self-discipline, a refraining from the good and necessary substances of this life, in order to hear from God more clearly. Jesus though physically weak and susceptible having fasted and prayed for over a month, was alert to spiritual danger. Even in His weakest physical moments He did not allow Satan to gain any foothold because He had spent the time in communion with His Father. Remember… “lead by the Spirit”. He was never alone.
In the accounts of the Book of Mark, and Luke…seem to indicate that Jesus was in some way tempted throughout His stay in the wilderness. Remember… (40 days, and night)
Possibly it was the devil’s strategy to gradually wear the Lord down little by little before confronting Him with the three great temptations that are specifically recorded. But Jesus would not yield to His adversary on even the slightest point.
John MacArthur commented on Jesus temptation:
So at the END of the 40 days, when Jesus would have been as hungry and tired as a person could be, the devil went after Him. That’s how the devil is with us. He waits until we’re tired and weary and discouraged. And then he comes out with the big shots. You come home after a hard day at work. Your wife says “Honey, I wish you would put your laundry in the hamper instead of leaving stuff thrown all over the floor.” You say “Whatever happened to the word “Hello?” Why are you hitting me with this now? I’m tired. I’ve been working hard all day.” She says “What do you think I’ve been doing?! I don’t want to come home from work and look at your messy clothes.” And just like that, two Christian people who love each other are duking it out like rock’em sock’em robots.
The devil’s strategy is to hit the people of faith when they’re tired and weary. That’s what he did to Jesus. Always be prepared, and know satans schemes. Remember our bible study on 2nd Corinthians…
2 Corinthians 2:11 (NIV)
11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
So… “WHY AM I BEING TEMPTED”? because we belong to God. If Jesus was tempted…Jesus lives in you and I, we too will also be tempted! Be aware, be prepared of the enemy’s schemes!
Temptation: ( Preparation, Temptations )
Satan came at Jesus in three different areas. Three Temptations for Three Needs Overcome By Three Answers from Jesus. Most people forget that it is not a sin to be tempted, but we sin when we yield to temptation. Remember temptations are merely opportunities to sin, but God always provides a way of escape so that we can handle any temptations that comes our way…
1 Corinthians 10:13
13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
The first temptation was for Jesus to distrust the providential care of His Father and to serve Himself. The second was to presume on the Father’s care by putting Him to the test. The third was for Him to renounce the way of His Father and to substitute the way of Satan. “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”
Makes you wonder sometimes, with all these feel good, health and wealth type of preaching. Who are they really serving?
Self-satisfaction: or live to satisfy your needs and desires.
And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread. The devil tried to use the real physical need of hunger to tempt Christ into succumbing to temptation to turn the stones into bread. Satan wanted to twist the divine mission of the Son of God. What kind of Messiah will you be? Use Your supernatural power for physical needs. If you turn rocks into bread people will follow You. All you need to do is save them from hunger, meet their legitimate human need, just give them what they want. To act supernaturally to meet His needs instead of depending on God to meet them. Would Jesus use His position and authority for selfish ends? Of course not! Would Jesus use His power for selfish ends? Of course not!!!
The devil wanted to raise doubts in our Lord’s mind. He wanted Jesus to say, "I haven’t eaten for forty days. Is God ever going to come through for Me? Can I trust Him? Is He going to be there for Me when I need Him? Am I going to have to act on My own or will I follow God & depend on Him to meet all My needs, however pressing they may be?" Of course, Jesus never said those things. But it safe to say, that we have, at one point or another!
Satan often uses a legitimate need, and tempts us by seeking to fulfill that need in an illegitimate way. Many people have doubts that God can provide for their physical, financial and human needs. Satan sought to exploit a weakness of hunger to cause Jesus to be impatient with the Father. Rather than launch out in a independent self-satisfying life, Jesus trusted His earthly well-being to the Father. In the Father’s time He would supply Jesus’ physical need.
Christ’s response in verse 4 is biblical and profound. “But He answered and said, “It is written, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”.
The Lord Jesus answer the devil by proclaiming that the Word of God is sufficient to sustain, sanctify and to support us in the most desperate hour of need or temptation. The Lord Jesus insisted that people need more than bread for their life. We must feed on the Word of God if we are going to sustain our spiritual life. God has said if we would follow Him completely, He will take care of or physical needs.
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
And again on Psalms 119…
How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.
10 With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! 11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.
Know the scriptures and it will preserve you from sin, self-destruction and disobedience. Focus on God’s eternal purpose not your own temporary concerns as you face your test.
True life depends not upon satisfying material wants but upon obedience to following God. For Jesus to turn stones into bread would have been to place personal physical need ahead of obedience and trust in God. God calls us to a re-ordering of priorities that places confidence in Him as our highest good.
The guiding principle of Jesus life, revealed in this verse, should be the guiding principle of our life also.
Temptation #2 - Self-accomplishment:
Satan’s next strategy is to get Jesus to focus the attention on Himself instead of upon God. He wants Jesus to rationalize and compromise and attempt to complete God’s purpose in the wrong way. In verse 5 we read of the miraculous transportation of Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem…
5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 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.
The devil takes a beautiful verse about trusting God, and he twists it into an invitation to test God! John MacArthur comments on these verses… “You say…Jesus that by not turning the stones into bread You are trusting God, now publically demonstrate that trust in God by jumping and letting people see your trust and God’s promised protection”.
Satan takes a verse out of context, and then twists it to get it to say something God never intended. Just like when he twisted Gods words in the Garden.
For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways.
12 In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
6 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.’”
Whats missing there, from the prophesy from the book of Psalms to Matthew’s account?
What changed, what got twisted? “To keep You in all Your ways”. Know your scriptures church. One of these days, wolves in sheep clothing may and will come as a friend, and twist Gods words into getting what they want from you.
Many of the battles that we find ourselves in are over the same thing. Satan will come and try to force us out of focus, trying to cause the word, will, or way of God to become fuzzy, and unclear, so he can get us sidetracked. Satan will offer you an alternative to God’s word, will and way and try to get you to think you are still following God.
This second temptation is about the plan that God has for you. God has a purpose for YOUR life. God has designed you and is trying to mold you for His eternal purposes. When following His Word, His will, and His way your life will be lived for…and turn out for your eternal best. When you try to take matters into your own hands then you run into trouble and cause enormous pain for yourselves and for others.
Case in point… when God called Abraham to trust Him and WAIT for his promised son. God promised Abraham that he would father a child with his wife in his old age. That God would bless the world through this child. Rational thinking told Abraham.. he is getting real old and his wife was barren and could not have children. You see how satan can cause you to doubt and to not listen fully to God. He said to WAIT. But, Abraham took his wife’s maid and out comes Ishmael. This seemed like a better, quicker way to accomplish God’s plan. Big Mistake! All of us, all over the world, are suffering to this very day for that rational.
Once again in verse 7 Jesus turns to the Old Testament Scripture for a wise response.
7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God”.
Jesus’ words come from Deuteronomy 6:16 and refer to the time when Moses struck the Rock in order to get water to satisfy the grumbling Israelites (Ex. 17:1-7). Because God did not immediately meet their expectations, they questioned His leadership and faithfulness. Faith is simply trusting God and taking Him at His Word no matter our circumstances or trials. We are not to try and force God’s hand, but simply to take God’s hand and follow Him. So Jesus refutes the notion that we have to rely on our pride, human efforts and sincere personal efforts to accomplish things. Focus on God’s plan not your own. Our desire should not be to prove or force God’s faithfulness, because we should already know, that He is faithful. But we need to prove that we are also faithful.
Jesus quoted Scripture to let satan know what He was committed to trusting God. Jesus was committed to the obeying the Word of God. Many people know the Word, can quote the Word and shout up a storm but are not committed to the Word. Its not the hearers of the Word of God that are justified but the doers of the Word. Remember in our bible study, I said that “it doesn’t matter what bible translation you have, but how much of it are you obeying?”
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
It is our commitment to obey the Word of God that gives us victory over temptation and sin. We can’t go around compromising the Word and expect to walk in victory over temptation.
Temptation #3 - Self-glorification: (1 Self Satisfaction, 2 Self accomplishment)
Having failed in his first two attempts Satan came blatantly at Jesus in verse 8.
8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”
From the vantage point of some unknown mountain Satan gave Jesus a vision of all the great kingdoms of this world. There satan displayed the wonders of earthly kingdoms and offers them to Jesus. Later Jesus would call Satan the ruler of this world…
30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.
And again on …
1 John 5:19
19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.
So apparently satan had the right to give them to Jesus. That’s probably why James mentions in his book that “friendship with the world, is enmity to God”, And John gives the same comment of “if anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them”.
Jesus clearly says that…
36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
The way of obedience is long, hard and difficult. Jesus showed us that perfect example.
So…if satan came around and offer you a good deal, and an easy way to live, why not take it? He offered it to Jesus. Why not make a deal with the prince of this world? Why not compromise to obtain the desired end immediately?
The price of immediate possession, getting what you want, the way you want, no trials, no suffering of any type…was simply bowing the knee in compromise before satan.
Satan offered Jesus the easy way out. Instead of enduring the long, bitter, humiliating, and painful road to the cross-and the even longer wait in heaven for God’s time to be completed-Jesus could rule the world now! Satan always comes at us in that same way. He suggests that the world of business, the world of politics, the world of fame, or the world of whatever our heart desires can be ours if only… We can get what we want,we can fulfill our lusts and our fantasies, we can be a somebody. All we must do to get those things of the world is to go after them in the way of the world which is Satan’s way.
Had Jesus fallen for satan’s temptation the statement of those who mocked at the foot of the cross would have had to have been reversed: “He saved Himself; others He cannot save” (Mt. 27:42). Instead of redeeming the world He would have joined the world. Instead of inheriting the world, He would have lost the world.
Jesus’ response was straightforward and clear. In verse 10 Jesus stood up in the Spirit and using Scripture for the third time told the devil that He was not getting distracted from living for and worshiping only the Lord God.
10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve”.
There can be no compromise with the Devil. Referencing again the Word of God as Jesus’ ultimate authority He quotes Deuteronomy 6:13. God’s Word is the final argument and ultimate authority against our enemy.
The Lord Jesus proclaimed in no uncertain terms He would not compromise with evil.
He advocated a focus on God’s person. Many people are more interested in the blessings than the Blesser. If you find yourself craving something the world seems to offer, quote Jesus’ words to the devil. “Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.”
III. THE TRIUMPH. (The preparation, The temptation, and The triumph)
Because Satan’s present power is only by God’s permission, when the Son commanded him to leave, Satan had no choice but to obey.
11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
Jesus waited for His Father to provide, and in the Father’s time, He sent angels to minister to Him. Jesus, I’m sure thought it was worth the wait. Jesus will inherit the kingdom in God’s time, and we will inherit the kingdom with Him. In the eternal, heavenly state. Who would want to sacrifice that for the deceptive, disappointing, and short-lived imitations Satan offers?
There are many good things that God will give us even in this life. No one desires our joyfulness more than our heavenly Father. “If you then, being evil,” Jesus says, “know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Mt. 7:11). We can have the joy God gives. So why would we settle for the cheap substitute Satan offers? We can have the glory of living righteously and pleasing our heavenly Father. Why should we settle for the brief and disappointing successes that sin produces? By God’s grace we can have the peace that passes understanding. Why should we settle for the cheap satisfaction of a world which will soon pass away forever and ever?
The reason this story is in the Bible is very simple. The same way Satan attacked Jesus is the same way he attacks you and i. And the way Jesus responded to the attack is the same way we should respond to Satan’s attack. The Bible is the only authority for right living. Since Jesus had mastered the Bible, He could not be mastered by any thing or any one, including the Devil himself.
When the devil does attack you & I, when he comes against us or our families or our businesses or our finances, or even our health, how do we respond? How do we actually stand up and face up against the enemy? He seems so intimidating, because next to God himself, the devil is the most powerful being in the universe. How do we accomplish this seemingly impossible task? Answer him in the Spirit of God with the Word of God.
10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve”
So… “Why Am I Being Tempted”? Because you belong to God. Because you are precious in His eyes. Because you are a gift to His Son. Don’t ever forget that!!!
Pastor Richard Santos
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