We all struggle with various temptations. Maybe you’re tempted to cheat, lie, or steal. Maybe your greatest temptation is indifference to those around you. Maybe the siren song of lust and sexual temptations are an allurement for you. Maybe your primary temptation is an angry outburst and an uncontrolled tongue. Maybe pride and a judgmental attitude are your temptation du jour. We could go on and on listing various temptations. Whatever sinful enticements you or I struggle with, the temptation of Jesus gives us an example, the ultimate example, of resisting the devil’s schemes to entrap our souls. Let’s begin by reading Matthew 4:1-11
(1) “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (2) And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. (3) And the tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ (4) But he answered, ‘It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
(5) Then the devil took him to the holy city and 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 will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” (7) Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall 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 glory. (9) And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” (10) Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'” (11) Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.”
1. His Temptations Were God-Ordained But Not God-Inflicted:
- v. 1| The Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted, but it was Satan who did the tempting.
- Job 1:6-12| It’s not unlike Job’s experience.
- James 1:13-15| James reminds us that God does not tempt us.
2. He Was Tempted When He Was Most Susceptible:
- vv. 1-3| Jesus had been fasting, miraculously, for 40 days. He was physically, emotionally, and spiritually susceptible to Satan’s temptations
- Matthew 26:40-41| Our Lord reminds the disciples, “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is so weak.” Despite our willingness to follow Jesus, Satan will attack us at our weakest point.
- Matthew 6:13| This informs us on why we pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
- 1 Peter 5:8-9| If we resist Satan he will flee from us. However, we must not let our guard down because he will look for a “more opportune time” (Luke 4:13) to attack us again.
3. His Experience Was Unique Yet Universal:
- vv. 3-9| Jesus’ temptations were unique in nature. I doubt any of us have ever been tempted directly by Satan in the same way Jesus was, yet, our Savior’s temptations are universal.
- 1 John 2:16| All temptations (whether Jesus’ or our own) can be boiled down to lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
- Hebrews 2:18; 4:15| We can take strength from the fact that our Lord Jesus knows how we are tempted. We can go to Him for grace because His temptation experience was universal in nature.
4. He Resisted Temptations With The Word Of God:
- vv. 4, 7, 10| Jesus thwarted each temptation by quoting scripture. There’s a model here for us to follow.
- Ephesians 6:16, 17b| In the whole armor of God passage, we attack evil with “the sword of the spirit, the word of God” but we defend ourselves through the “shield of faith” because we believe God’s word.
- Romans 10:17| The faith needed to confront Satan with God’s word comes from getting into God’s word.
5. His Temptations Were Tough But Temporary:
- v. 11| Jesus’ temptations were no doubt tough. So tough, “angels came and were ministering to Him.”
- 1 Corinthians 10:13| God promises we will not tempted beyond what we can bear. There is always a way of escape.
- Jams 4:7| If we resist the Devil he will flee from us.
- Hebrews 1:14| Angels are ministering spirits. Perhaps there a connection here. As angels ministered to Jesus following His temptation, then after we do battle with Satan God will send us heavenly help.
Jesus came in human form. He knows the weight of sin and the heaviness of temptation. He was not shadowboxing with the devil. Our Lord Jesus was tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sin. We sinners must learn from our Lord and cling to Him, that we might by faith win the victory for His glory and our good.