1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’” 5 Then the devil *took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and *said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, ‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU’; and ‘ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’” 7 Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’” 8 Again, the devil *took Him to a very high mountain and *showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; 9 and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus *said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’” 11 Then the devil *left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him. (Matthew 4:1-11)
Temptation is a topic that needs to be on the front of every believers minds. Too often we get bogged down with the stresses of life and Satan slowly fades into the background of our reality and in the pulpit. Satan is real and his hatred toward us and God is real. Satan is crafty and knows the desires of our flesh very well. Anytime he gets our attention he is winning. As long as we are not focused on God he is successful. Some may be distracted with greed, lust, gluttony, and pride. While others aren’t as obvious like family, social drama, church, friends, and jobs. But rest assured if you are a Christian you are being attacked.
Take the life of Peter for instance. In Matthew 14:22-33 Peter walked on water, but the moment he took his eyes off Christ he began to sink. Peter was also the disciple that was rebuked for not being able to stay awake during Jesus’ last hours in Matthew 26:40. It’s amazing how great the difference is in someone’s life when they are focused on Christ. Focused on Christ, Peter could walk on water. When he lost the focus he couldn’t even stay awake for Jesus. Peter continued to show where his focused was when he denied Christ three times in the latter part of Matthew 26. A life not aimed at Christ is not a life at all. Fortunately, After the crucifixion of Christ Peter became very solid in his walk with the Lord. He learned the God’s grace how to handle the temptation that would face him.
However when Jesus was tempted, Satan tried his best by tempting him in three ways. The first was tempting his flesh by focusing on his current weakness, hunger. It wasn’t until the text shows his weakness that you see Satan come into the picture. Take note that if you are in a vulnerable state that is when the predator attacks. Satan is compared to a lion in 1 Peter. When a lion attacks it’s prey they will intentionally hunt the weakest in the pack by attacking the one that’s at the back of the herd.
The second temptation was through manipulating the word of God. Satan knows the word and sometimes he can use the very word to tempt us by taking it out of context. Whenever the end result leads to sin Satan is the author of that. Like leaning on Paul’s emphasis on I do what I don’t want to do, I don’t do what I do want to do in Romans 7:15. Previously I would think of that scripture and Satan would use that and manipulate it to play on my weakness. I would think, “If Paul can’t do it, who am I to think that I can do what is right?” But I was right, I couldn’t do anything good. But with God, nothing is impossible.
The third and final way he was tempted was through wanting his praise. Satan would have gotten his praise had Jesus not kept His eyes on the father. But Jesus knew what was at stake. He knew His purpose, to turn his attention on another mission would have been a sin, and there would have been no perfect sacrifice for His chosen. Thank you Jesus for withstanding the temptation!
Temptation comes in all shapes and sizes, it does not discriminate on any level. From Adam to Jesus, from Jesus to you, Satan has been at work. Take note of Peters warning about Satan, because he was a man who knew the ramification of sin and the weakness of his flesh “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.” 1 Peter 5:8-9. The devil wants you dead and is waiting for the opportune moment to strike, be on the alert. Take note that you are not alone in your temptation for everyman has faced it. How will you respond?
I was eating dinner with an elder at the church I attend and I began to tell him my current interest in temptation by telling him a story about how at various times in my life I have been tempted with seemingly good things, but all of them ended the same way, distracted and focused on something other than the Lord. He then began to tell me a story: “Temptation is like the bull frog. If you try to boil a bull frog by throwing it in boiling water he’ll jump out. But if you put the frog in cool water and slowly turn the heat up, the frog will become lethargic, fall asleep, and die in the boiling water.” Very interesting story to take into consideration when looking at temptation in our daily lives. Are we asleep and completely unaware of the dangerous environment we are in? Remember the Lion and the frog.