Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

5-12-06

Title: The Temptation of Jesus

 

Bible Reading: Matthew 4:1-11

 

 

The subject today is the temptation of Jesus, as found in Matthew 4:1-11.

 

Verse 1 says, “Then Jesus was led out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted there by the Devil.”

 

The word “temptation” is sometimes used to imply a test or trial or it can mean to allure, entice, and lead into evil.

 

Examples are found in the Old and New Testaments:

  • Genesis 22:1tells us: “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham”; the RSV puts it this way, “After these things God tested Abraham.”
  • Matthew 22:18 says; “Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?”; the RSV translates it, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites?”
  •  Matthew 22:35 asserts; “Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him”; the RSV has “And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him.”

 

Every person is tempted by someone or something, at some point in their life!

 

Even Jesus was tempted according to Hebrews 2:18 where it says: “Since he himself has gone through suffering and temptation, he is able to help us when we are being tempted.”

 

His example, however, provides us with an assurance that we are capable of resisting temptation.

And by overcoming temptation, we emerge strengthened in our spirit.

 

Temptation is an “enticement to sin” that arises from human desires and passions.

 

Enticement may also be from the devil, which is called “the tempter” in Matthew 4:3.

 

The Bible states explicitly that God does not tempt us, but He does allow us to be tested by circumstances and by the devil so that faith might grow.

 

Furthermore, the Lord promises to provide a “way of escape” so that we are not tempted beyond what we are able to bear.

 

James said that when the tempter’s influence is resisted, he must flee.

 

Satan’s strategy for temptation is clearly evident in his dealings with Eve:

 

      First, he questions God’s Word.

 

      Second, he contradicts God by not telling the whole truth.

     

Third, he distorts and misquotes God’s Word.

 

These same strategies were at work in Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.

 

The Bible promises that those who withstand life’s temptations will receive “the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).

 

There is no sin in being tempted; since Jesus who was perfect in every way "…was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin," .

Christ is able to understand our weaknesses, since He Himself has experienced the very same things.

 

No one can truly sympathize with someone else unless he has been through a similar experience himself.

 

As a Man our Lord has shared our experiences and can therefore understand the testing which we endure.

 

However, He can’t sympathize with our wrongdoing, because He never experienced it.

 

He was tempted in every respect as we are, and yet He never sinned.

 

It was impossible for Him to sin, either as God or as Man.

 

As the perfect Man, He could do nothing of His own accord; He was absolutely obedient to the Father, and certainly the Father would never lead Him into sin.

 

One purpose of the temptation was to demonstrate conclusively that He could not sin.  

Temptation doesn’t necessitate sinning; since we read that when He was tempted, He was," yet without sin."

There are different degrees of temptation, butnot even the worst forms of it involve sin.

Since He never sinned, Jesus could say, “The prince of this world cometh, and have nothing in me” (John 14:30).

The Lord knew that the time for His betrayal was approaching and that He would not have much more time to talk with His disciples.

 

Satan was even then drawing near, but the Savior knew that the enemy could find no symptom of sin in Him.

 

There was nothing in Christ to respond to the devil’s evil temptations.

 

It would be ridiculous for anyone else but Jesus to say that Satan could find nothing in him.

Satan can find something in you and me, but he could find nothing in the Lord Jesus.

Since Jesus endured the devious temptations from the evil one himself without sinning, it may be beneficial for us to also be tempted.

I’ll give you five reasons for why I say that.

First, it can prove our sincerity, faith, love, and patience.

It’s not meant to be proof for others or even for God, but for us; God sees into the heart and He knows if we possess these virtues, but we don’t know until we are put to the test.

Second, temptation can bring growth, because temptation develops and increases our faith. 

We grow as we experience God in our lives. 

We can’t resist the temptations that come to us; we’ll cave-in every time, unless we have help from the Holy Spirit.

Experiencing God’s help is what makes our faith grow.

Third, temptation increases our usefulness.

It’s easier to relate to those that have had the same experiences you have.

We become able to comfort and warn others when we recognize that they are facing the same temptations we have. 

They’ll listen to advice from us, because we have walked in their shoes and overcome the same temptation.

Forth,we can know the thrill of victory.

How wonderful it is to overcome the arch-enemy of mankind—the devil!

 

Fifth, temptation can bring glory to God.

 

He overcomes Satan by feeble men.  

 

Most of us have never been tempted to jump off a tall building, and very few have ambitions of being crowned king of the known world. 

 

So at first glance, the temptations that Satan dangled before Jesus don’t seem to relate to our lives. 

 

But if we look a little deeper we see that, although the temptations may be different for us than they were for Him, the choices are still the same.

 

The key is found in Jesus’ response. 

 

Each time Satan offered a shortcut to physical satisfaction like turning stones into bread, public adulation from jumping off the Temple, or worldly power and wealth from having all the kingdoms of the world; Jesus responded by quoting God’s word. 

 

Jesus saw His choice clearly:

 

Take the easy road offered by the one who desired His destruction, or obey the Father and trust that God’s way, although sometimes longer and more costly, is the way to joy and peace.

 

When Satan tempts you with a shortcut to pleasure, popularity, or power, remember that in every temptation there is a lie—disobeying God doesn’t bring us the satisfaction it promises. 

 

Remember, too, that God’s word is the key to fighting temptation. 

 

When we, like Jesus, make our choice to obey God’s word, Satan will flee and God will meet our deepest needs.

 

Staying away from others will not prevent temptation, in fact, it may even promote it.

 

Remember, Jesus was tempted in the wilderness.

 

Neither will fasting and prayer always keep off the tempter; because our Lord had done both.

There are several things we will notice as we read out text:

The first thing is; He began the whole series of his temptations by casting doubt on our Lord's Sonship, and giving a crafty quotation from Scripture.

 

Secondly, he heard the Father's words at our Lord's baptism, and he began tempting as soon as the Father’s witness ended.

 

And thirdly, he knew how to release a double shot of temptation by introducing doubt and rebellion with questions like; "If thou be the Son of God”.

 

God had only one Son who was without sin, but he had none without temp­tation.

 

That’s how Satan shows his hate for the Father; the closer any child is to God, the more Satan will hassle him, and torment him with temptations.

 

No one is as loved as Christ; no one was as tested as He was.

 

Listen now as I read our text:

 

1 Then Jesus was led out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted there by the Devil.
2 For forty days and forty nights he ate nothing and became very hungry.
3 Then the Devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, change these stones into loaves of bread.”
4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People need more than bread for their life; they must feed on every word of God.’ ”
5 Then the Devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple,
6 and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He orders his angels to protect you. And they will hold you with their hands to keep you from striking your foot on a stone.’ ”
7 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘Do not test the Lord your God.’ ”
8 Next the Devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him the nations of the world and all their glory.
9 “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will only kneel down and worship me.”
10 “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God; serve only him.’ ”
11 Then the Devil went away, and angels came and cared for Jesus.

First, I want you to Notice that THE TEMPTER ATTACKS WITH AN "IF."

Sometimes there is power in a single word!

 

For instance, there can be power in the single syllable "If," with which the devil begins his conversation with Jesus.

 

It was brought into play by Satan, for the purpose of creating doubt in the Savior’s mind, a doubt of Him being under His Father's care, and he said it in a clever and mean way.

 

Jesus used this word “if” differently in those lessons which he so frequently taught to his disciples when he was on earth!

 

He always makes use of it to inspire confidence; never to stir up distrust.

 

I’ll give you a single instance of this: "If God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?"

 

What a contrast between how Jesus used it, and the hateful manner in which the great enemy of God and man used it!

 

There are seven things I want to point out about how Satan uses this little word “if.”

 

First, “If” doesn’t imply a point-blank denial.

 

That would be too upsetting.

 

Doubt serves Satan’s purpose better than opposition.

 

A seed of doubt can grow into what is perceived as truth.

 

“If” he could have created doubt about His Sonship in the human side of Jesus mind, he would have won; it’s as simple as that.

 

Second, he plants his "if" on our holy God.

 

He makes any doubt he can raise in the Lords mind, look like holy anx­iety about Him being the divine Son of God.

 

“If” he caused Him to worry about it, he would have won.

 

Third, he “ifs” a simple Scripture.

 

It says in Psalm 2:7, "Thou art my Son" .

 

God raised up Jesus from the dead so that the work of salvation would continue.

 

It was the resurrection that proved that Jesus was who He said He was; the eternal Son of God.

 

“If” Jesus stayed in the grave then Satan would have won.

 

Forth, he “ifs” a past appearance of God.

 

At his baptism God said, "This is my beloved Son."

 

God the Father identified Jesus as His Son on two occasions; His baptism and His transfiguration.

 

The Holy Spirit also identified Jesus when He was baptized. 

 

John the Baptist was told that the one on whom the Spirit of God would come to rest would be the Christ. 

 

The spirit, in the form of a dove, came to rest on Jesus.

 

All three members of the Trinity would eventually identify Jesus as the Son of God.

 

Satan accuses us to God, and he contradicts our spiritual experience by causing us to doubt and by reminding us of past sins.

 

He wins “if” we become discouraged and feel that we aren’t good enough for God to love us.

 

Fifth, he “ifs” a whole life.

 

Jesus has a very special relationship with the Father that we’ll never know.

 

God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are three separate persons, but they are one-the divine Trinity.

 

Jesus came into the world at the Father’s request and from the very first Jesus had been about his Father's busi­ness; yet after thirty years his Sonship is questioned.

 

Sixth, he “ifs” inner consciousness.

 

Our Lord knew that he was the Father's Son; but the evil one is daring.

 

The Bible describes him as a lion roaming the earth seeking anyone he can keep from coming to faith in our Savior.

 

Perhaps, he still believes he can win if he can turn enough people away from believing in Jesus.

 

Seventh, he “ifs” a perfect character.

 

It is understandable that He would question our faith, since we have many faults; but Jesus had none.

 

How could he think that he would be able to change the character of the only perfect man who ever lived? 

 

God doesn’t change, for He is the same yesterday, today, and for ever.

 

The second thing I want to call your attention to is that The Tempter attacks with an “if,” and then heAIMS THE "IF" AT A VITAL PART.

 

First, he takes aim at our sonship.

 

In our Lord's case he attacks his human and divine Sonship, and in our case he would like to make us doubt our salvation.

 

He’ll place thoughts in your mind:

 

How can I be a Christian and still do some of the sinful things I did before I was saved?

 

While I was praying, I had a lustful thought; how can I be a Christian.

 

If the devil can cause us to question our salvation; he may prevent us from bearing any fruit.

 

Second, he takes aim at our childlike spirit.

 

He tempts us to care only for ourselves.

 

The temptation was, "Command that these stones be made bread."

 

That would have been easy; didn’t Jesus say to the Pharisees, when they bragged about being descendents of Abraham, “God can make sons of Abraham from the stones lying on the ground.”

 

Jesus wouldn’t do it; instead, He said, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.”

 

Third, he takes aim at our Father's honor.

 

He tempts us to doubt our Father's desire to take care of us.

 

But didn’t Paul say, “But my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

 

God promises to meet all our needs, but not all our wishes, wants, or whims.

 

Forth, he takes aim at our comfort and strength as members of the heavenly family.

 

By robbing us of our sonship, he would make us orphans.

 

Satan didn’t come to Christ and say, "Thou art not the Son of God"; or "That voice that called you His “beloved Son” was a lie or a delusion."

 

No, he goes about his evil business by questioning the Savior, and that might seem to give the impression that He knew Jesus was the Son of God, and yet he might create some doubt in His mind, but that wasn’t what happened.

 

Satan wants to hinder our prayers.

 

How could we say, "Our Father" if we doubted our sonship?

 

Satan would like to destroy our patience.

 

How can we say, "Father, thy will be done," if we are not His sons?

 

The devil will not leave you alone.

 

He’ll lay you open to the next shot, whatever that might be.

 

The third thing to notice is The tempter attacks with an “if,” and heaims the "if" at a vital part, and then he SUPPORTS THAT "IF" WITH CIRCUMSTANCES.

 

Listen to some of the questions he may have put to Jesus:

 

1. You are alone. Would a Father desert his Child?

 

2. You are in a desert. Is this the place for God's Heir?

 

3. You are with the wild beasts. Shameful company for a Son of God!

 

4. You are hungry. How can a loving Father let his perfect Son hunger?

 

Put all these together and the tempter's questions come home with awful force to a man who is hungry, and alone.

 

Remember, Jesus was the God-man; his body was just like ours.

 

All that time without food would have left Him hungry, weak, and perhaps He was sick.

When we see other people tested in the same way, do we think of them as brethren, or do we question their sonship, as Job's friends questioned him?

I wonder if sometimes we shouldn’t question ourselves!

Are we being true to our profession of faith?

Are we representing Jesus like we should?

The tempter attacks with an “if,” and heaims the "if" at a vital part, and then he supports that "if" with circumstances, butWHEN WE CAN OVERCOME, THE TEMPTER'S "IF," IT IS NO LONGER A HINDERANCE; IT HAS BECOME HELPFUL INSTEAD.

 

In a demonstration of spirit and power, Jesus overcame the tempter, showing that He is the One who enables us to overcome temptation as well.

 

Paul said, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

 

If Satan comes to you and questions your relationship with God, it is a certainty that you’re a true descendent.

 

You see, he only questions truth: therefore we are true sons.

 

He only leads sons to doubt their sonship; therefore we are sons.

 

Once he has been overcome, he may be quiet for years.

 

Victory takes the sting out of man’s questions and suspicions; because if we have answered the devil himself, we shouldn’t fear to answer mere men.

 

And victory puts sweetness into our relationship with our heavenly FATHER.

 

Just as it was in our Lord's case, overcoming the enemy is usually the prelude to angels coming and ministering to us.

 

Once when Jesus was at sea and in a small boat a great storm came and threatened to sink the boat.

 

Mark reported this incident in his Gospel.

 

He said, “Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm” (Mark 4:39).

 

No calm is as deep as that which follows a great storm.

 

Friends, are you in such relation to God that it would be worth Satan's while to raise this question with you?

 

“If you are a Christian; an heir of God, and so forth”

 

Those who are not heirs of God are heirs of wrath.

 

The purpose of the temptation was not to see if He would sin, but to prove that even under tremendous pressure He could do nothing but obey the Word of God.

 

Jesus eventually received from the Father all Satan had offered to Him: the provision of bread, angels to minister to Him, and rule over both earth and heaven.

 

His source of strength was obedience to the Father’s will and He wouldn’t even do a miracle to avoid personal suffering when such suffering was a part of God’s purpose for Him.

What a Savior!

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