The story of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness gives us insight into His character and ours. (Matthew 4:1-11) A few thoughts from observing this text come to mind.
First, we have an enemy seeking to entice us. Satan is the enemy of Jesus, and the enemy of His followers. Satan has many names and titles to be found in Scripture such as Adversary, Slanderer, Beelzbub ( lord of flies, lord of the dunghill), Belial (worthlessness), Lucifer, the seducer, and the prince of this world. There are others, but that is enough to paint the picture for us. So intent is the enemy on destroying God’s followers that Jesus described him as desiring to ‘sift…as wheat’ the Apostle Peter (Luke 22:31, 32). Even so, the Lord’s brother taught us to “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7).
Second, we have our own desires to entice us. It’s bad enough that we have this enemy who wants to destroy us, he has a helper living within us. Once again, James clearly says, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:14). It might be hard for us to understand, but Jesus was truly tempted in the wilderness.
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 empathize with ! ! our weaknesses, but we have one who ! ! has been tempted in every way, just as we are yet he did not sin. ~Hebrews 2:18; 4:15
I cannot know for sure what was in Jesus’ heart but it seems logical to say that there was a desire to wrest control from Satan right then and there … prove who he was… to demonstrate His power and capture the world through any means necessary. Satan did his best to entice Jesus into such a reaction, but He resisted, knowing the victory was ahead.
Third, we have times of weakness that present a danger. Just as they did for Jesus, temptations strike at our weakest moments. When is your resistance to temptation at its lowest? After fasting for 40 days Jesus was weakened physically, emotionally, spiritually. And how do you think this temptation came to Jesus? In a harsh challenging manner? Or as a concerned friend trying to get him to do what he most needed to do … eat some food. My friend Danny Dodd used to have a sermon called, “The devil don’t come to you ugly.” That is so true. Satan can appear to be an angel rescuing you in your darkest moment (2 Corinthians 11:14). In your weakest moments where is the enemy likely to strike?
What settings are you in when you fall? Avoid them. What props do you have that support your sin? Eliminate them. What people are you usually with Avoid them. There are two equally damning lies Satan wants us to believe: 1) Just once won’t hurt. 2) Now that you have ruined your life, you are beyond God’s use, and might as well enjoy sinning. “Learn to say no. It will be of more use to you than to be able to read Latin.”~Charles Spurgeon.
Fourth, we have two spiritual weapons with which to fight.
– God’s Word! Jesus brought to mind the Scriptures that relate to the temptation. He knew the Scriptures. He had Scriptures abiding in His heart. He was able to use the Scriptures to address the temptations before him. More – it was believing the Scriptures that relate to the temptation. Do we really believe that we live by the very words that come from God? We need to tear down all the strongholds in our lives that have been created by continuing to give in to temptation and allowing sin to remain in our lives.
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. ~ 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
– The help and ministry of God in our lives. The angels came and ministered to Jesus following his skirmish with the enemy. I believe that this signals to us that God is present and strengthening us if we will trust Him in the storm of temptation. God is not absent when you are tempted or weak, He is near. He is not only working within us, he creates ways of escape when temptation grows strong (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Temptation is very real and unfortunately we often fall into the same traps over and over. We need to be honest with ourselves. Are we allowing a single desire to control our lives? Do we really want to overcome the temptations in our lives?
Audio of this message can be heard HERE (Click on ‘temptation insights).
Some initial thoughts on this text can be found HERE.
Thanks for reading,