Temptation

Righteousness fulfilled and proclaimed in a thundering voice from heaven must be tested to prove its worth.
When Jesus told John that it was necessary for Him to fulfill all righteousness, He meant more than just His baptism in the Jordan. For the next three years of public ministry He would walk this earth in the character of God—truth, integrity, holiness, complete righteousness, and He would touch people with the power of God to heal, deliver, restore and encourage. Such a life could only be lived if Jesus had complete and constant victory over sin.

Into the Wilderness
Jesus did not wander into the wilderness. He was led by the Spirit of God. He may or may not have known He was going to go face-to-face with Satan but He certainly knew the Holy Spirit was leading Him there. One translation even uses the word, “driven” to describe this powerful leadership. Jesus, like other leaders in the nation’s history, fasted and prayed for forty days and nights. Just to make sure we understand, Matthew adds a postscript:

“…afterward He was hungry.”

This was no show of divine force; it was a display of human weakness and strength; strength of will to accomplish such a thing and weakness resulting from the forty day ordeal. Soon angels would minister to Him but first a necessary encounter took place. Satan, the tempter, came to Him. Hoping that the weakness of Jesus’ body had somehow affected His mind, the devil started with a temptation to doubt.

“If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

A useless ploy! I can almost see Jesus laugh in the devil’s face. He had no doubt who He was! He didn’t need fresh baked stones—He had the everlasting Word of God!

Suddenly they were at the pinnacle of the Temple and Satan tried this one:

“If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down.”

He perverted a promise about angels watching over Him to prevent foot injuries. The sight of the Temple and the impressive grounds did not impress Jesus in the least. He reminded Satan of what a dangerous thing it is to tempt God!

Next they were at the summit of a high mountain where all the kingdoms of the world could be clearly seen. They shimmered in the sun but it was the sun Jesus Himself had created! There was no glory to be had here that He had not already possessed since creation and then laid aside.

“All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”

Jesus was annoyed at this. Worship was for God alone. Hadn’t Lucifer learned that lesson eons ago?

“Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and Him only you shall serve.'”

I can almost see Satan pounding a fist into a hand and walking away with his head shaking. Or maybe he left in a cloud of desert dust and loud noise. We don’t know; all we know is Matthew’s terse report.

“Then the devil left Him…”

Angels could be restrained no longer. They hurried to Jesus’ aid and ministered to Him. Perhaps they served Him manna, angel’s food, to strengthen Him. What a feast!

Three temptations face us all.
The Apostle John informs us that all tempted with three things:

  1. the lust of the flesh,
  2. the lust of the eyes, and
  3. the pride of life.

These are the very things Satan tempted Jesus without success. Today, our victorious Lord shares His triumph with us.

Scriptures:
Matthew 4: 1-11
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 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.'” 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.'” Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'”Again, 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.” 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.'” Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
Hebrews 4:14-16
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
James 1:12-16
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren.
1 John 2:15-17
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 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. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You went toe-to-toe, face-to-face with Satan and beat him on his own desert ground. Angels stood by ready to help but they were not needed. After 40 days of fasting and prayer Your body was weak but Your mighty Spirit was strong. You answered the temptations of Satan with the Word of God hidden in Your heart. In this You fulfilled the admonition to hide the Word in the heart so that sin can be avoided. Lord, live that strong in me. When Satan sends one or his minions to my door, let me answer him with the Word! Amen and Amen!

Song:
Yield Not to Temptation
Words and Music: Horation R. Palmer

1. Yield not to temptation, For yielding is sin;
Each vict’ry will help you, Some other to win;
Fight valiantly onward, Evil passions subdue;
Look ever to Jesus, He will carry you through.

Refrain:
Ask the Savior to help you,
Comfort, strengthen and keep you;
He is willing to aid you, He will carry you through.

2. Shun evil companions, Bad language disdain;
God’s name hold in rev’rence, Nor take it in vain;
Be thoughtful and earnest, Kindhearted and true;
Look ever to Jesus, He will carry you through.

Refrain

3. To him that o’ercometh, God giveth a crown;
Through faith we will conquer, Though often cast down;
He who is our Savior, Our strength will renew;
Look ever to Jesus, He will carry you through.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

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