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, 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.
Temptations. We all have them. We’d like to have that big, beautiful house, that fancy car, the high-paying career, the winning lottery ticket. Those are big temptations. But on a daily basis, we’re faced with things that tempt us in more subtle ways. The foods we eat, the thoughts we have, and also in what we truly believe about ourselves, and about God. It’s these areas in which the devil can start to get a foothold in our lives and draw us away from the things that God would rather have us keep our minds on.
One night an Arab had settled in for the night and had just fallen asleep when his camel stuck his head in his tent and explained that it was awful cold and asked permission to just stick his legs inside the tent to keep them warm. Granting him permission the Arab went back to sleep. A little while later the camel woke him up a second time and asked permission to stick his head in. Again permission was granted. This continued on throughout the night until finally the Arab woke up to find the entire camel in the tent with him. When he told the camel that there just was not enough room in the tent for the both of them the camel suggested that the Arab might want to leave.
That is exactly what Satan does. He slips into our lives a little at a time and one day we wake up and alarmed we tell him that there just is not enough room for both he and Jesus in our lives. To which he suggests that Jesus might then want to leave....
Our lives are full of temptations. We are constantly bombarded by ads telling us that we just aren’t complete unless we have the latest product to fulfill our wants/desires. Sure, they may look harmless on their own, but the fact we give in to these desires, is giving in to temptation, and that can lead to problems, even addictions, or simply put…sin.
From our text, Matthew 4:1-11, we’ll read how Jesus Himself was put to the test. Face to face with the devil, He was tempted. Why was Jesus tempted like this? Why would God allow the devil to try to cause Jesus to sin? I believe it was to show US how to overcome sin, and to put the devil into his place! Let’s look at how Jesus overcame these three temptations of the devil.
First: realize that Jesus was in a weakened physical state after fasting for 40 days in the desert. He ate nothing, and we don’t know if He even drank anything. This would be an ‘absolute’ fast. But, as we see in the passage, His MENTAL capacities were sharp!
How do you feel when you miss even one meal? We are blessed to have, on average, 3 meals a day. We eat when we want to, not when we need to. We snack, we munch, we sip, and drink almost to our heart’s content. Not that it’s GOOD for our HEART to eat some of the foods we tend to crave. Now think of how you would feel after a day of no eating. How about 2 days? A week? Can you even imagine 40 days? I have never fasted that long in my life. And that was hard. I don’t know if there is a word that could describe how HUNGRY Jesus was after 40 days.
Now, in this weakened condition, the devil comes to Him. Another name for him here is the ‘tempter’ (Luke 4). And the first thing he tempts Jesus with is food. He asks Jesus to prove He is the Son of God by turning stones to bread. He knows Jesus could do it. He doesn’t ask Jesus to show His miraculous power, but instead tries to appeal to His human craving for food. Really nice of the devil, eh? But Jesus answers with a great scripture, “man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Deut. 8:3)
Do you remember the movie by C. S. Lewis’ classic The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, Edmund makes his way through the wardrobe and into Narnia where he meets the White Witch. Unaware of the evil of the White Witch, Edmund climbs up into her sleigh. The Witch asks Edmund what he would like, and his request is for some Turkish delight, a sweet blend of sugar and starch, covered in powdered sugar. Later Edmund would forsake his friends and seek out the Witch for more of the Turkish delight. The White Witch did not force Edmund to eat the Turkish delight or to leave his friends. Edmund did so out of his own desires within him.
Principle: We should not give into our fleshly desires if the result will be to sin. What we need to desire MORE than food for the body is food for the soul. We need to feed ourselves on God’s word. Read it. Hide it in our heart. Meditate on it. Learn it. Memorize it. Crave it! That is the first evidence of one who has been born again. The desire, the hunger to know and learn more about God. We can never have enough of it.
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.
Next, the devil took Jesus to Jerusalem, to the temple. He told Him to stand on the highest point and jump off. Do you have a fear of heights? Does your stomach get a little queasy when you look down from a tall building to the ground below? I remember being in Chicago, at the Sears Tower. The Sears Tower, was completed May 3, 1973, rises to a height of (1,450, 1,729′ to tip) feet and is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the Chicago skyline and in the world. The Sears tower held the record for the world’s tallest building for 25 years until the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia were built in 1998. When I moved to Chicago, this is one of the places Tina brought me to see. And whenever we would have visitors, we would take them there as well.
We went up to the sky deck, to the same windows that are in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. We put our heads up against the glass and looked down to the street. And I tell you, even knowing the glass was there, and with a handrail to hang on to, I still felt as if I my stomach was going to take a leap! It was an incredible view as you looked across the city, but looking down, that was a different story!
Now the temple in Jerusalem was not nearly as high as the Sears Tower. 45.72 meters, (150.0 ft) Depending on which wall, and what foundation is being referred to. That’s still along way up. Here again the devil tempts Him. This time, he even quotes an Old Testament scripture to Jesus. (The devil knows the scriptures, too!) He tells Jesus to jump. ‘Don’t worry, you won’t get hurt. The angels will catch you! Your foot won’t even hit the ground’ He quotes Psalm 91:11,12.
11 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.
So…the devil did his homework, he remembered his memory verse. Again, the devil knows scriptures too. So, be very careful in how he can use it to tempt you as he did to Jesus. Jesus replies, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Deut. 6:16) Again, Jesus replies with scripture. The devil took that passage a bit out of context. Yes, he has been doing that same trick from the very beginning. The same way he tricked Eve into taking the fruit. God would have protected Jesus. But, it would not have been part of His plan for Christ’s life here on earth.
Jesus was showing us a lesson here on how we too can fight the tempter.
Question…Do we test God? Have you ever said something like, ‘God, if you’ll only allow me this one thing, this one indulgence, then I’ll give my whole life to you.’ That’s testing God. It is not right. It’s actually trying to tempt God. God cannot be tempted by OUR evil desires. Yes…it is an evil desire if it goes against His will!
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. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.
The first chapter of James deals with trials and temptations. Read it sometime and learn how trials and temptations are GOOD for us. That’s when we grow.
ILLUSTRATION: “Cocoon” The cocoon of the Emperor moth is a flask like in shape. To develop into a perfect insect, it must force its way through the neck of the cocoon by hours of intense struggle. Entomologists explain that this pressure to which the moth is subjected is nature’s way of forcing a life-giving substance into its wings. Wanting to lessen the seemingly needless trials and struggles of the moth, an observer said, "I’ll lessen the pain and struggles of this helpless creature!" With small scissors he snipped the restraining threads to make the moth’s emergence painless and effortless. The creature never developed wings. For a brief time before its death, it simply crawled instead of flying through the air on rainbow, colored wings!
Principle: Don’t let your thoughts get the best of you. Don’t try to out-think God. Don’t try to twist the word of God to justify things that are not part of God’s will for your life. Be sure not to take things out of context. Read an entire passage of scripture, and not just one phrase.
The devil takes Jesus to a point where He can see all the kingdoms of the world. The devil offers to give all this to Jesus for one simple act. ‘Just bow and worship me,’ says the devil. Just think. Rather than a lowly human, with no wealth of any kind, no real home, no one who likes what you say, no money, no power. I’ll give it ALL to you. You’ll be the KING OF THE WORLD! Just worship me. What was the devil asking here? He was asking for Jesus’ place in the kingdom! He wanted to be restored to the ultimate place in heaven. He wanted out of the destruction he will ultimately face at the end of time. For if Jesus worshipped the devil, then Christ would be lowering Himself below Satan!
Again, Jesus rebukes Satan with scripture. “Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only!”
Satan leaves, I’m sure in a big disappointment, and angels come and attend to Jesus.
Serve Him only. Our first obligation in life is to worship God, then to serve Him. And Him alone. Putting anything else in that first position is wrong! Our God is a jealous God. He does not share His position with anyone or anything. The first few verses of the 10 commandments, found in Exodus 20, tells us this clearly…
And God spoke all these words, saying:
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 “You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
A song by Philips Craig & Dean says this well:
You are not a god created by human hands You are not a god dependent on any mortal man.
You are not a god in need of anything we can give by Your plan that’s just the way it is.
You are God alone from before time began You were on Your throne You were God alone.
And right now, In the good times and bad You are on Your throne You are God alone.
You’re Unchangeable. You’re unshakable. You’re unstoppable. That’s what You are.
You’re the only God whose power none can contend You’re the only God whose name and
Praise will never end. You’re the only God who’s worthy of everything we can give You are God that’s just the way it is.
Principle: Don’t put ANYTHING in your life ahead of God. Nothing. Not your family, or your health, not your job or your house, not your car or your toys, not money or power, not your time or your habits. NOTHING can come before the Lord. Let’s get our priorities straight. Our eternal soul depends on it!
Jesus was tempted in three areas, as we are – Lust of the flesh (our body), lust of the eyes (our mind), pride of life (our soul). (1 John 2:16).
1 John 2:16
16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.
He/Jesus, faced up to these temptations by knowing the scriptures. If we know our Bible, we can face up to the temptations we face today. Many bibles have references to passages to read in regard to different situations we find ourselves in.
Find these tools in your bible. And the more you read it, the more time you spend learning it. The more you will be able… like Jesus, to rebuke the devil and his temptations through the power of scriptures. Keep in mind, that everything we do, everything that we are has an eternal destination. We are saved by grace that is true, Gods grace. But it does not mean that we are to do whatever we want. “we we’re bought at a price”. Our life/the Christian life is no longer our own. It belongs to God.
Pastor Richard Santos
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