Truths About Temptation Part 1
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
Truths About Temptation
Scripture: Matthew 4:1-11(Good News Bible)
1 Then the Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the Devil.
2 After spending 40 days and nights without food, Jesus was hungry.
3 Then the Devil came to him and said, “If you are God’s Son, order these stones to turn into bread.”
4 But Jesus answered, “The scripture says, ‘Human beings cannot live on bread alone, but need every word that God speaks.’ ”
5 Then the Devil took Jesus to Jerusalem, the Holy City, set him on the highest point of the Temple,
6 and said to him, “If you are God’s Son, throw yourself down, for the scripture says: ‘God will give orders to his angels about you; they will hold you up with their hands, so that not even your feet will be hurt on the stones.’ ”
7 Jesus answered, “But the scripture also says, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”
8 Then the Devil took Jesus to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in all their greatness.
9 “All this I will give you,” the Devil said, “if you kneel down and worship me.”
10 Then Jesus answered, “Go away, Satan! The scripture says, ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve only him!’ ”
11 Then the Devil left Jesus; and angels came and helped him.
In 1 Peter 5:8, the apostle classified Satan as a “roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Did you know that lions are nocturnal animals and most of their hunting is done at night, under the cloak of darkness? Their eyesight is designed for preying on unsuspecting victims in the dark. No wonder Peter spoke of the deceiver as a lion.
It was in the dark, away from Christ, that Peter fell prey to the temptation of denying Christ. When we drift from the light and start loitering in the shadows we become easy prey for the lurking lion—who is none other than Satan himself. Stay out of the dark places where you are tempted to sin, and you will have a much greater chance of staying alive.
Temptation is a problem in the life of all of us. That’s what Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 10:13.
13 Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out.
The trials and temptations we face will be proportionate to our strength, and they are common problems that others have also faced.
When we are being tempted, one thing we can be sure of is that God is faithful. People and the world may be false, but God is true, God is faithful, and our strength and security are in Him. God knows our strengths and our weaknesses, and He knows exactly what we can take. Sometimes when the pressures of life seem to overwhelm us, we think we can take no more. But never give up. If God didn’t know that you could take it, He would not have allowed you to suffer it. God hasn’t promised us that we will escape temptation, but that He will enable us to land safely on the other side victoriously. But often the only escape is to endure the temptation.
James wrote: “Happy are those who remain faithful under trials because when they succeed in passing such a test, they will receive as their reward the life which God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12)
There are 4 things concerning temptation that I want to talk about today. Frst, I want to talk about The Source of temptation. (Matt. 4:1, 3, 5, 8, 10, 11).
The Bible teaches that Temptation comes from the devil and that he is a liar and a deceiver. The temptation of Jesus began this way, “Then the Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the Devil.” The Spirit descended upon Him when He was baptized and was remaining on Him. Te word “Then” indicates a sequence of events. It happened immediately after His baptism; and it agrees with the statement of Luke 4:1which says: “Jesus returned from the Jordan full of the Holy Spirit and was led by the Spirit into the desert” Mark's account agrees, but adds that Jesus was driven into the desert. He wrote, “At once the Spirit made him go into the desert” (Mark 1:12). This makes me think that He went with some hesitation; perhaps He was thinking of the misery that He would have to endure for 40 days. But I like how Matthew puts it in gentler words saying that the “Spirit led Jesus” which shows that His going was voluntary. He was going for a specific purpose, which was “to be tempted by the Devil.” For the most part “tempted” is used in scripture in a bad sense, and means to entice, solicit or provoke to sin. That's the reason the devil is called “the tempter.” The Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness simply to have His faith tested, but Satan believed He would fail and then He would seduce Him away from His allegiance to God. So what was God’s purpose in this?
First, it gave our Lord a taste of what lay ahead for Him.
Second, He would demonstrate the glorious power of the Holy Spirit.
Third, it would give Him encouragement by the victory He was about to win.
And He would go forward spoiling the work of Satan and his demons until His final triumph over them at the Cross.
Finally, He accepted the temptation so that He might gain experience that He could use to comfort us when we are going through temptation.
The temptation came in 2 stages: first, the one that lasted throughout the 40 days of fasting; and the other was at the conclusion of that period. This was God’s plan, and Satan was doing what God wanted him to do.
Our Lord didn’t ask for the tempting by Satan, but God ordained it, because it would be proof that He was who He said He was. Satan may have thought that he was forcing the issue and that he was the one in charge, but the power and authority of Christ would prevail, just like it did in the Garden of Gethsemane and every time He freed a man from demon-possession. Other men had failed. They couldn’t do the job. The temptation was too great for them. Adam failed. Noah failed because after he got through the flood, he fell on his face. Abraham failed. Moses failed-he led the nation of Israel through the wilderness, but couldn’t enter the Promised Land, himself. David failed, even though he was “a man after God’s own heart.” Jesus did not fail, but it was the temptation that initiated Him into His work.
There is something ghastly and horrible about the temptation of Christ. There were evil forces present all around Him. I believe that Satan threw everything that he could at Him. Only the one who created all things could have come through this experience. Satan is very subtle, as we’re going to see.
The first temptation was aimed at satisfying Jesus’ need for food—‘Satan the Devil came to him and said, “If you are God’s Son, order these stones to turn into bread.”’Jesus was God’s son alright, but he had a human body, and He must have been very hungry after 40 days without food. Jesus was not tempted only this one time but throughout the entire 40 days. I believe that Satan threw everything he had at our Lord, thinking that the lack of food had left Him weak.
Then the Devil took Jesus to Jerusalem, the Holy City, (and) set him on the highest point of the Temple. From there he wanted our Lord to throw Himself off, and to be caught by His angels. The temptation was for Jesus to demonstrate that He was the Messiah by performing a sensational stunt.