Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

 Truths About Temptation


Written: 9-26-06

Scripture: Matthew 4:1-11(Good News Bible)

 

 

Scripture Reading

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.

 

Introduction


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. Next we’re told—

8 Then the Devil took Jesus to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in all their greatness.

This is the third temptation and it takes place on a high mountain. It seems absurd to think that Satan would attempt to give the kingdoms of the world to Jesus, the Messiah, and the King of the universe.

The next 2 verses have Jesus’ response.
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.

Here, Jesus quotes scripture for the third time.  This time He quotes Deuteronomy 6:13 and 10:20.  He responded every time with scripture and that should tell us something.  There is a reason why so many of us have a difficult time living the Christian life.  It is because we don’t know God’s word.  The answers to all of life’s problems are in His book.  We need to read it and it would be good to be able to quote some verses.

The Devil wanted to make Jesus a great religious leader, but to do it by missing the cross.  He would have Jesus present His credentials through some spectacular miracle, rather than offering His credentials in the manner that God prescribed. The Devil knew scripture and quoted scripture, or rather he misquoted it.  He is a liar and will twist scripture to fit his purpose.  It’s important that we check every man’s words against the Bible, or at least those who claim to preach the word.

In verse 11, we see that Satan left Him, but in Luke we find it was only for a season.  I don't believe that he left Him alone for very long.

Now, I would like for you to consider The Scope of  the Temptation (Matt 4:3-10).

The scope of the temptation includes the human appetite (vv. 3-4), human applause (vv. 3-4), and human assets (vv.8-10). Our text tells us—

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.’ ”

I have only fasted a couple of times in my life and it was for a very short time.  So it would be difficult for me to relate to what Jesus went through.  It would take a tremendously strong will for Him to deny Himself food for 40 days and it would have had a terrible effect on His physical condition.  Remember that Jesus was a man in the physical sense.  He didn’t have any advantage over you and me in that respect.  The temptation here is to His flesh.  Will He choose to satisfy His hunger? Jesus’ reply is to quote Deuteronomy 8:3, “….. That he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.”

Satan has a very low opinion of mankind.  He said in Job 2:4, “…..Skin for skin, all that a man have will he give for his life.”  He thought that Jesus would give into the temptation to relieve His hunger.  But Jesus never gave into temptation and He used the word of God to defeat him.

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!’ ”

Satan took Jesus to the top of a high mountain where He could see all the kingdoms of the world.  That would have included the Roman Empire.  Christ was on His way to the throne, by way of the cross, but Satan said to Him, “It is foolish to suffer the pain and humiliation of the cross.  Take the easy way.”  It is foolish today to try to build a kingdom, nation, business or family without Christ, because there are only two rulers: Satan and Jesus.  If you are not taking the Lord into account, you must be taking the other.  The apostle Paul said, “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”  (1 Corinthians 2:2)

Satan showed Jesus all the nations of the world and all their riches.  This was a temptation that would appeal to man’s lust for power.  However, the Lord Jesus has “all power in heaven and earth,” should he decide to use it. Jesus responded every time with scripture and that should tell us something. 

There is a reason why so many of us have a difficult time living the Christian life.  It’s because we are ignorant of God’s word.  The answers to all of life’s problems are in His book.  We need to read it and it would be good to be able to quote some verses. Jesus has been face-to-face with the devil, but—Now the temptation has ended and Jesus Has the Final Word. (Matt. 4:10; Luke 4:13).

10 Then Jesus answered, “Go away, Satan! The scripture says, ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve only him!’ ”

Why was Jesus Christ tempted?  It was to demonstrate that we have a sinless savior.  He proved that all power had been given to Him.  Satan did not have anything to offer Him.  There is a man in heaven today that experienced all aspects of our life, so that he could understand us and be our advocate.  In 1 John 2:1-2, it says, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.  And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” We can depend upon the Lord Jesus, no matter what our circumstances in life might be. He is always willing to Help Us When We Come Face-To-Face with Temptation (Matt. 4:10). Now, Jesus had the final word; listen to what He said.

10 Then Jesus answered, “Go away, Satan! The scripture says, ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve only him!’ ”

Two words in Jesus’ reply, “worship” and “serve,” are significant, because each word is connected with the other. Here’s what I mean by that: If Jesus would bow before Satan it would acknowledge the devil’s lordship. 
However, such a proposition deserved Christ’s direct reprimand. Jesus repulsed the mightiest blows of Satan not by a thunderbolt from heaven, but by the written word of God, spoken with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, something that is available to all Christians. At this point, Satan must have known he had lost, because in the next verse we are told—Then the devil leaveth him, and behold, angels came and ministered unto him.  (Matthew 4:11)

Here, we see that Satan left Him, but in Luke we find it was only for a season.  I don’t believe that he left Him alone for very long.

Conclusion

Temptation is real and all of us face it. The temptation of Christ provides an example of how to overcome temptation. We can do what He did; recall what God’s Word has to say about the situation, and ask for the help of the Holy Spirit.

Do you have any questions or comments?

 A young couple was struggling with their finances. In an effort to get a better handle on their spending, they agreed that whenever they were tempted to make an impulsive purchase they would say, “Get behind me Satan.” One evening the wife came home with a very elegant dress that was obviously not a budgeted item. She proudly modeled it for her husband and asked him what he thought. He noted its beauty but wondered why his wife had not adhered to their little agreement. He said, “I thought we agreed that whenever we are tempted to make an impulsive purchase we would say, ‘Get behind me Satan.’ Did you forget to do that?” The wife replied, “Oh no, I did that just like we agreed.” The husband then asked, “Well, what happened this time?” She confessed, “He said it looks good from back here too!”

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