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The Three Temptations

Matthew 4:1-2
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.

Luke 4:1-2
Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit,
returned from the Jordan
and was led by the Spirit
into the wilderness,
being tempted for forty days
by the devil.

And in those days He ate nothing,
and afterward, when they had ended,
He was hungry.

Satan had tried to tempt Jesus thrice in the wilderness.
But the Lord overcame all the three temptations of the devil.
This gives us great encouragement today.
Jesus was tempted in the same manner as us, but He did not sin in the process.
When Jesus had been baptized by John the Baptist, He came up immediately from the water.
And behold, the heavens were opened to Him.
He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.
And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Then Jesus, being full of the Holy Spirit, was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
Yes, the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
It was the will of the Father for Jesus to be tempted by the devil.
The Father had just proclaimed that Jesus was His beloved Son, in whom He was well pleased.
Thus the temptation by the devil was a test of God to prove that Jesus was truly the beloved Son of God!
This was the sovereign plan of God!
After Jesus had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was hungry.
Despite His long extensive fast and great hunger, there was no weakening of His will to resist the devil.

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.
Genesis 3:6
So when the woman saw that
the tree was good for food,
that it was pleasant to the eyes,
and a tree desirable to make one wise,
she took of its fruit and ate.

She also gave to her husband with her,
and he ate.

Satan employed a similar strategy in tempting Eve in the garden and Jesus in the wilderness.

These three basic tools of temptation are also used to tempt us today.

Verses 1 John 2:15-17    Genesis 3:6
Body The lust of the flesh  good for food
Soul The lust of the eyes pleasant to the eyes
Spirit The pride of life desirable to make one wise

The Luke 4 account is written in a chronological manner, and is in the same order as in Genesis 3 and 1 John 2.
The Matthew 4 account however has a different order. The second temptation is the third, and the third temptation becomes the second.

Thus I will use the Luke 4 account here.
The Lust Of The Flesh

Luke 4:3-4
And the devil said to Him,
“If You are the Son of God,
command this stone to become bread.”

But Jesus answered him, saying,
“It is written,
‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word of God.’”

This first temptation started with this big if: “If You are the Son of God….”

Satan was trying to cast some doubts on the true identity and divinity of Jesus!

He was trying to twist and turn what God had already declared and proclaimed concerning Jesus!

He was challenging what God had said! What an arrogant and audacious being!

Jesus had not eaten for 40 days and 40 nights.
The hungry body needed food. And bread was good for food.

Therefore Satan tempted Jesus to turn the rock into bread, fill His stomach with food, and satisfy His physical hunger.
But Jesus resisted the devil by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3:

So He humbled you,
allowed you to hunger,
and fed you with manna
which you did not know
nor did your fathers know,
that He might make you know that
man shall not live by bread alone;
but man lives by every word
that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. 

The Lust Of The Eyes

Luke 4:5-8
Then the devil,
taking Him up on a high mountain,
showed Him all the kingdoms of the world
in a moment of time.

And the devil said to Him,
“All this authority I will give You,
and their glory;
for this has been delivered to me,
and I give it to whomever I wish.

Therefore, if You will worship before me,
all will be Yours.”
And Jesus answered and said to him,
“Get behind Me, Satan!
For it is written,
‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and Him only you shall serve.’ ”

Satan took Jesus up to a high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world.
Satan told Jesus to fall down and worship him, and he would give Jesus all these kingdoms.
This temptation was pleasant to the eyes.
It was very tempting and soulish to own all the kingdoms of the world containing all the wealth, glories and riches therein.

The human soul craved for money, wealth, recognition, power and fame.
Jesus resisted the second temptation by quoting Deuteronomy 6:13:

You shall fear the LORD your God
and serve Him,
and shall take oaths in His name.

The Pride Of Life

Luke 4:9-13
Then he brought Him to Jerusalem,
set Him on the pinnacle of the temple,
and said to Him,
“If You are the Son of God,
throw Yourself down from here.

For it is written:
‘He shall give His angels
charge over you,
To keep you,’
‘In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”

And Jesus answered and said to him,
“It has been said,
‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ”

Now when the devil had ended every temptation,
he departed from Him until an opportune time.

This final temptation also started with this big if: “If You are the Son of God….”
Satan was making his last attempt to cast some more doubts on the true identity and divinity of Jesus!

Maybe this time he might succeed. But he failed again miserably.
The devil took Jesus to the top of the temple and asked Him to jump off.
This temptation was desirable to make one wise and super spiritual - to be like God.

Genesis 3:5
For God knows that in the day
you eat of it your eyes will be opened,
and you will be like God,
knowing good and evil.

If Jesus did what the devil told Him to do, then the angels would come to His rescue.

This would show off that He had divine and angelic help. How glorious that would be!

Even if He did fall, He would not suffer any injury as the angels would lift Him up.

This evil suggestion looked like a wise idea of stirring up spiritual pride!

But it was tempting God!

Deuteronomy 6:16
You shall not tempt the Lord your God
as you tempted Him in Massah.

Jesus was tempted just like we are tempted today, and yet He sinned not.

Hebrews 4:15
For we do not have a High Priest
who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses,
but was in all points tempted as we are,
yet without sin.

Jesus taught us how to overcome temptations.

Jesus was in the form of a man, not God when He resisted all the temptations of the devil.
He did not perform any miracle in order to defeat any of the temptations of Satan.

He did not call down any fires, winds, rains or earthquakes.

He did not engage any angelic forces or armies!

However, the angels did come to minister to Jesus after the devil had left Him (Matthew 4:11). Yes, after all the three temptations!

He did not physically wrestle with the devil engaging in spiritual warfares and fighting heavenly battles!

In fact, the three temptations are not about our fighting against the devil.

They are about our fighting against the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life inside us!

The three temptations are tests for our body, soul and spirit. To see whether we have overcome the temptations, and are preserved blameless before God!

1 Thessalonians 5:23  
Now may the God of peace Himself
sanctify you completely;
and may your whole spirit, soul, and body
be preserved blameless
at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus used the same power and authority that God had given us - the Word of God.

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is living and powerful,
and sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing even to the division of soul and spirit,
and of joints and marrow,
and is a discerner of the thoughts
and intents of the heart.

We have the same Word of God today. Not one verse more or one verse less!

Jesus also taught us the importance of using the Word of God correctly.
In responding to each temptation, Jesus resisted each of them by using the appropriate Word of God.

He knew the Word of God in His heart, and He knew how and when to use them.
Not only did He use the Word of God, He also used it correctly.

He was rightly dividing the Word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15
Be diligent to present yourself
approved to God,
a worker who does not need to be ashamed,
rightly dividing the word of truth.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is given
by inspiration of God,
and is profitable for doctrine,
for reproof, for correction,
for instruction in righteousness,
that the man of God may be complete,
thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Thus, when we are faced with any temptation today, we need to use the proper and suitable Word of God to overcome it.
Before we can use any Scripture correctly, we must know what the Scripture truly says.

It is very important that we use the Scriptures correctly.

Why? Because Satan knows the Word of God too.
He even used and quoted the Scriptures while tempting Jesus. But he used the Scriptures out of context.
Using the Word of God out of context is a common error and practice in many churches and Christians!
Whenever we misuse the Scriptures, we are in the wrong - no matter whether we are making a good point or a bad one.
Jesus taught us after we resist Satan, he will flee from us.
After failing to tempt Jesus, Satan departed from Jesus until an opportune time (Luke 4:13).
Yes, the devil will strike again when we least expect him to do so.

Whenever there is an opportunity, he will tempt us again!

Satan has transformed himself into an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).
This fallen angel wanted Jesus to worship him. But Jesus did not!

We are called to worship God and serve only Him!

If the angel of light wanted to tempt Jesus, he too wants to tempt the Bride of Christ!
If the Church is not careful, she will be deceived like Eve in the Garden of Eden.
If the Bride of Christ is not watchful, she will fall down and worship the angel of light!

Some Christians have already done so - being deceived and now worshipping the fallen angel.

Some Christians have become very obsessed with the angel of light.

Some have even seen him in a physical form!

Many Christians have loved the things of the world, all the glories and riches.

I am not against money. But it is the love of money that has led many believers astray!  

1 Timothy 6:10  
For the love of money
is a root of all kinds of evil,
for which some have strayed
from the faith in their greediness,
and pierced themselves
through with many sorrows.

It is the love of money that is the root of all kinds of evil.

If we love the world or the things in the world, then the love of the Father is not in us.

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 if we do the will of God, we will abide forever. 
How do we resist the devil? 

James 4:6-8
But He gives more grace.

Therefore He says:
“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”

Therefore submit to God.

Resist the devil
and he will flee from you.

Draw near to God
and He will draw near to you.

Cleanse your hands,
you sinners;
and purify your hearts,
you double-minded.
Ephesians 4:26-27
“Be angry, and do not sin”:
do not let the sun go down
on your wrath,
nor give place to the devil.

In very simple words, be humble, submit to God, draw near to Him, purify our hands and hearts, and sin not. That's how we resist the devil, and he will flee from us!

A lot of people resist the devil by fighting with him through vain repetitions, chantings, declarations and proclamations. That's not the biblical way! That's just plain arrogance and spiritual pride!
As Jesus was able to overcome every temptation by the devil, we too are able to do the same with the power of His Word!
God has given us this great promise:

1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you
except such as is common to man;
but God is faithful,
who will not allow you to be tempted
beyond what you are able,
but with the temptation
will also make the way of escape,
that you may be able to bear it.

Written on 11 September 2012