Temptation Mathew 4:1-11 Genesis 3:1-7 1 John 2:15-17
Physical needs Turning stones into bread The fruit of the tree was good for food Cravings of sinful man
Appeal to personal gain Rescued from a fall by an angel You will not die–but is pleasing to the eye Coveting–lust of the eyes
Pride and power Have all the kingdoms of the world You will be like God

Boasting of what we have and do

As we continue to look at the life of Jesus, I pray we will be “transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory” as God’s Word says we will. (2 Corinthians 3:18) Even as the power of modeling works in and through our lives, beholding Jesus Christ, the Perfect Man, who models for us the Perfect Life, can transform us more and more into His image by the power of the Holy Spirit. This month we will see how our Lord faced the same temptations Adam and Eve and all mankind have faced and will face and in His humanity (not His Deity) defeated Satan and now is able to empower us to do the same.

"Then Jesus was led by the Spirit… to be tempted by the devil”.(See Matthew 4:1-11) After Jesus was filled with the Spirit (Matthew 3:16), He was led by the Spirit to be tested by God as a Man. Satan tempts us to sin whereas God tests us to strengthen us and refine us into Christ-likeness. (See James 1:13-15) Jesus faced these temptations as a man just like us and what Adam and Eve and Israel and all mankind failed to do, submit to God and triumph over Satan, Jesus did. "For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are– yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:15-16) A person who has suffered similar trials and suffering as we have is able to sympathize and comfort us in a special way. (See 2 Corinthians 1:3-5) So our Lord Who was “tempted in every way, just as we are” and “suffered when He was tempted” is both sympathetic and able to help us defeat sin as He did. Our part as Christians is to follow Jesus’ example of always submitting to God in our temptations. As Jesus cried out in His greatest temptation: “Nevertheless, Thy will be done” we hear God’s Word instructing us to do the same: "But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Submit yourselves, then, to God. (“Thy will be done.”) (Then) Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you." (James 4:6-8) We can’t defeat the devil unless we first submit to God. We are no match for Satan in our own strength. The power to do God’s will comes from our willingness to do His will. Once Jesus submitted to His Father’s will to go to the cross, He was empowered to face the most horrible suffering any man has ever experienced with supernatural strength, peace and even love for those who nailed Him to the cross.

Temptation is not just doing something obviously wrong or evil (like turning stones into bread) but it is also trying to meet a legitimate need in a way contrary to God’s will or the leading of the Holy Spirit. For example, food, sex, and financial provision are all legitimate needs but if met contrary to God’s will can become gluttony, sexual immorality (sex outside of marriage), greed and workaholism. The question is not, “Lord is it o.k. if I have this or do this, etc.,” but, “Lord what do you want, what is your will”? Apart from God’s Word and Spirit the Bible says we don’t even know what is good or evil. (See Hebrews 5:14)

Our public ministry (spiritual influence) is built on our private victory over sin, and every temptation from Satan can be turned into an opportunity for spiritual growth as we choose God’s will. We see this so clearly in Joseph’s life as he defeated the temptation of unforgiveness toward his brothers and bitterness toward God and was able to be used mightily for God’s purposes. (Genesis 50:20) And Scripture says that in every trial we face God can do the same for us as we live for His purposes as Joseph did. (Romans 8:28) Ken Boa calls this spiritual judo as we take Satan’s attack and use it for our spiritual growth and God’s glory.

Dr. Mike Wilkins gives us a good summary for dealing with temptation the way Jesus did. (1) Submit to God and resist the devil (2) in the power of the Holy Spirit (3) through the guidance of God’s Word (4) to accomplish God’s will. (The NIV Application Commentary on Matthew)

  1. "Submit to God and (then) resist the devil.” Like Jesus we must first submit our will to the will of God (nevertheless, Thy will be done) in order to resist the devil.
  2. Even then we need the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit ( like Jesus did) to resist the devil. We cannot do it in our own strength.
  3. It is written: We must use the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17) as Jesus did, to fight off Satan’s lies and deceptions. Satan twists “reality” (“this will make you happy”), so God’s truth is the antidote to show us true REALITY (this will make you holy which always leads to true happiness).Thus we must know the Word in order to win the battle. It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’", " It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’". Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’" And Jesus gives us His authority to defeat Satan and his demons. (Luke 10:19)
  4. Only God’s will has eternal value and He created us to know and do His will in order to bring Him glory and honor and pleasure. "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices (as Jesus did), holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1, 2) "The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." (1 John 2:17) That which is done for Christ will last forever, for our eternal good and the glory of God.

May we choose, like Moses, to deny the fleeting pleasures of sin for the sake of Christ because we are looking forward to God’s reward. And “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 11:24-26, 12:2)

Until He comes,

Len and Kristen

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