About Us Services MinistriesSermon Message Bible Study NotesCalendar Contact Us


Statement of Faith

The Four Most Important Things We Could Ever Tell You

Listen to this week's message!

Map to the Church

Prayer Requests

Enhance your daily reading of God's word. Click here for free, printable Bible Reading and Prayer Journal sheets!

Sermon Messages

The Definitive Sign

He Came!

Preparing the Way for the King

Our Redeemer - Preserved!

Take It To Heart

God's Way of Growing a Ministry

The Lineage of Our King

God's Provision for a Successful Life

First Be Reconciled!

The "Big Idea" of the Law


Do Not Covet

Who Cannot Be Jesus' Disciple

Protecting Our Neighbor's Name

Keeping the Charge of the Lord

Why Christmas Had To Be

The Present Value of Past Help

It's Harvest Time!

Thanks for No?

What Belongs To Our Neighbor

Do Not Worry

A Faith That Amazes the Savior

Keeping Marriage Sacred

Heaven, A World of Charity or Love

The Great Value of Human Life

Prepared to Proclaim

Honor Father and Mother

Call The Day A Delight

Hallowed Be Thy Name

Gospel Confidence

First Love

Jesus' Word on The Word

God's Holy Name

The Cure for Stagnant Christianity

God's Holy Jealousy

Heaven's Citizens on Earth

No Other Before Him

Having God as Our God

We Preach Christ

The Adventure of Obedience

The Law From God

Walk in the Spirit

Jesus' Mercy to a Mother

Keeping the Law Through Love

Easter Encounters

Our Savior's Triumphant

By Grace to Good Works

No Condemnation

Made Guilty Enough for Grace

God at Work in Desperate Times

The Blessings of Justification

How To Be Inexpressibly Happy

Friends Together in Jesus

Drawn to the Savior

A Godly Resume

Bullies in the Body

Valued by God

Personal Reformation

"I'd Love To, Lord, But..."


Message Archives

2004 Archives

2003 Archives

2002 Archives

2001 Archives

2000 Archives



Sermon Message



Matthew 4:1-11
Theme: We learn much about dealing with temptation from the example of our Lord.

(Delivered Sunday, April 25, 2004 at Bethany Bible Church. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture is taken from the New King James Version, unles.)


We're dealing this morning with a subject that is relevant to everyone in this room - that is, the temptation to sin. And we're going to be learning from the greatest Teacher we could ever learn from - none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. And we're going to be learning from Him in the most vivid way could be taught by Him - that is, by His own example as it's recorded for us in Matthew 4:1-11.

And before we begin looking at this passage together, I want to impress on you just how important and practical I believe it is. I believe that it's a passage that the devil himself hates. I believe, of course, that he hates all of Scripture; but I believe that he hates this one passage with a particularly resentful hatred. I believe that, if he could, he would rid the earth of it, and would keep you and me from ever learning anything about it. He hates it, certainly, because it tells the tale of the humiliating defeat he suffered early in his efforts to prevent Jesus from becoming our Redeemer. But I believe that he also hates it because it reveals his strategy against us. The specific temptations that he directed against Jesus may be different in character from those he directs against us; but I believe this passage shows us the broad areas in which he seeks to deceive men and women of God, and to cause them to trip up in sin. It helps us to recognize his temptations when they come. And what's more, it shows us - by Jesus' own example - how we are to resist his efforts in such a way as to cause him to flee from us.

But, as practical as I believe this passage is, I believe there's one more thing that makes it a very important and very precious passage to us. It's that it affirms to us a wonderful truth about our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. You see; even though the devil failed to trip the Lord up, he very often succeeds in causing us to stumble. And this passage teaches us a wonderful truth that is very good news to all of us who struggle with sin - who very often fail and feel like giving up because we're such dreadful and unworthy failures before God. It affirms to us the assuring and encouraging truth spoken of in Hebrews 4:14-16, and it comes like healing medicine upon the soul of the struggling child of God;

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 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. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).

* * * * * * * * * *

This morning, I'd like for us to simply walk through this passage together, and understand the details of what it says to us about the temptation of our Lord. And then, I'd like for us to consider some of the principles about temptation that we can learn from it.

First, let's consider what this passage tells us about . . .


Matthew opens this passage with these words; "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." And I'd like you to notice right away the word "Then . . ." It points us back to what had happened in the time just prior to this. We can't really appreciate what Matthew is telling us in this passage unless we see it in the light of what had just occurred.

What had just occurred was Jesus' baptism. Matthew tells us that Jesus came to John the Baptist to be baptized by him in a baptism of repentance. When Jesus came to him, John initially resisted. John viewed Jesus' request as utterly inappropriate. After all, how could Jesus - a Man who had never sinned - be baptized in a baptism that represented a repentance from sin? But as we saw last week, Jesus came - not because He needed to repent of sin - but rather to personally identify Himself with our own need so He could bear our sins for us. He told John, "Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness" (Matthew 3:15).

John consented to baptize Jesus; and the Bible tells us that, "When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and 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'" (vv. 16-17).

And now, in our passage this morning, we find that Matthew tells us that "then" Jesus was led by the same Holy Spirit into the wilderness. Jesus' temptation in the wilderness followed after His baptism. In fact Mark, in his Gospel, tells us that after Jesus was baptized, "Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness" (Mark 1:12). It was immediately after the Lord visibly and publically united Himself to us in our sin problem - and immediately after the heavens opened up to Him, and the Spirit descended upon Him, and the Father declared His pleasure in Him - that He then willingly went into the wilderness to suffer the temptations to sin that we suffer. When He identified Himself with us, He identified Himself with us fully! What a Savior we have!!

* * * * * * * * * *

Before we go any further, we need to stop and deal with a question that this raises. In just a few chapters from now in our study of Matthew's Gospel, we're going to read that Jesus taught His disciples to pray, "And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one" (Matthew 6:13). But here, we see that it was the Holy Spirit Himself that actually led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. How do we reconcile those two things?

I believe that the answer comes in the Greek word that our Bible translates "tempted". It's the word peiraző; and it's used in the Bible in two distinct ways. One way the word is used is the way that's probably most familiar to us - that is, with reference to an enticement to do evil. The apostle James uses the word in this way when he writes, "Let no one say when he is tempted [that is, enticed to do evil], 'I am tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone" (James 1:13).

But another way that the same word peiraző is used is to describe the act of "testing" or "trying" someone in order to refine them or to prove the genuineness of their character - much like precious metal is "tested" and "refined" in the fire. Abraham, for example, was commanded by God to offer up his only son Isaac on the alter as a sacrifice; and God saw his faithful obedience and stopped Abraham from actually slaying his son. And the Bible tells us - using this same Greek word - "By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac . . ." (Hebrews 11:17). Similarly, the Apostle Peter uses a form of this same verb and writes, "Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you . . ." (1 Peter 4:12). So the Greek word peiraző can either refer to God subjecting one of His children to the sort of testing and trying that reveals and refines their true character, or to the devil's actual enticement to do evil. The only way you can know which meaning is intended is by looking carefully at the context in which it is used. Sometimes - as in the case of this morning's passage - both ideas are present.

When the Lord Jesus taught us to pray, "And do not lead us into temptation . . .", it's pretty clear that He was speaking of "temptation" in the sense of enticement to sin. God will never lead us in such a way as to entice us to sin. But when the Holy Spirit led Jesus out into the wilderness, it seems equally clear that the Spirit was not enticing our Lord to sin - because the devil was certainly going to do that. Rather, it was the Spirit's intention to "test" our Savior and "try" Him, and thereby prove the genuineness of the character that had already been testified to by the Father concerning Him - "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

So our Lord was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted - that is, "enticed to sin" - by the devil; but God's purpose in this was that proof might be given to the Lord's righteous character. To state it as the Bible speaks elsewhere; What the devil meant for evil, God meant for good (Genesis 50:20).

* * * * * * * * * *

It's in this context, then, that Matthew goes on to tell us of the first of the devil's three temptations of our Lord. He writes, "And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, 'If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread'" (vv. 2-3).

Matthew identifies the devil by what he does - calling him "the tempter". He tells us that Jesus fasted for forty days and nights, and that after that period He was hungry. And he tells us that it was then - when Jesus was very hungry - that the devil came to tempt Him. The Gospel of Luke tells us this story as well; and he writes that Jesus was tempted by the devil throughout that forty day period (Luke 4:2). So I take Matthew's words to be telling us that at the end of the forty days and nights - when Jesus was physically exhausted and very hungry - it was then that the devil's temptations became particularly intense and specific. It helps to remember that the devil had, by that point, accumulated over four-thousand years of experience in enticing people to sin. He has also gained another two-thousand years of experience since then. He knows very well how to come upon us at our most vulnerable moments.

And notice the temptation itself. "If You are the Son of God," the devil said, "command that these stones become bread." He, of course, knew that Jesus was the Son of God; and wasn't demanding proof. Nor was he trying to entice Jesus Himself to doubt that He was the Son of God. Jesus' identity had already been made clear to the whole world at His baptism; and Satan himself has known who Jesus was from before creation. This was a particular temptation that was geared toward capitalizing on the fact that Jesus already knew who He was. What Satan was saying was this: "Listen; You are the Son of God. I know it; and so do You. There is nothing You cannot do. It was You who caused water to come out of the rock to refresh the thirsty people of Israel during the times of their wanderings. It's within Your power to cause bread to rain down from the heavens in the wilderness. Well look; here's a stone. If You're the Son of God, why wait any further? Why go on being hungry. Turn this stone to bread and feed Yourself!"

Now; there's no wrong in eating bread. After forty days and nights of fasting, Jesus certainly could have broken His fast and eaten bread and - on the face of it - have done no wrong. And what's more, it was most certainly in His power to turn the stone to bread if He wished. As John pointed out, God is able to raise up children to Abraham from the stones of the ground (3:9); certainly it was no problem for the Lord to make "rolls" from "rocks". But note carefully what Jesus said in response: "But He answered and said" - here quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3 - "'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'" (4:4).

I think it helps if we hear that passage from Deuteronomy in its context. It has some amazing parallels to our Lord's circumstance. The people of Israel had completed their wilderness wanderings, and were just about to enter into the promised land. And God's message to them through His servant Moses was this:

Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers. And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 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. Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the LORD your God chastens you. Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him (Deuteronomy 8:1-6).

Stop and think. If Jesus had done as the tempter had suggested, He would have obeyed the word of the devil instead of the word of His Father - which is exactly what the devil wants. And I think it's worth pointing out that the whole fall of mankind in the garden of Eden was brought about by eating at the devil's suggestion in the first place! But that's not the worst of it. If Jesus had used His power and authority as the Son of God in this way, He would have done so without the permission of the Father. Jesus - whose "food" it was to always do the will of His Father (John 4:34) - had no word from the Father to turn stones into bread. If He had done so, He would have been using His divine power on His own volition for His own benefit. He would have been seeking to meet His own needs in a way that made Him independent from His Father's will.

The Father sustained the people of Israel in the wilderness for forty years. You tell me: Could the Father have provided for Jesus' nourishment without bread for forty days or more? Of course He could! In fact, it's a remarkable proof of this that Jesus was only described as being hungry after the forty days and nights had been completed. God is able to keep a man alive indefinitely without food if He so wishes and so commands. It was the word of God that brought all of Creation into being. One word from God can most certainly support all that live. But no man can survive without a word from God.

The devil's particular temptation, in this case, was to try to get Jesus to meet His bodily needs and satisfy His fleshly carvings independently from God's word. This was a temptation that all of us feel - the temptation to place our own physical cravings over the commandments of God. Jesus Himself felt this temptation - and yet did not sin.

* * * * * * * * * *

This first temptation failing, the devil then brings a second. Matthew tells us, "Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone'" (Matthew 4:5-6). That's a quote from Psalm 91:11-12. And isn't this interesting? Look who's quoting the Bible now!

Apparently, the devil was able to actually take Jesus from the desert regions to Jerusalem itself; and to even take Jesus up to the highest point of the temple in Jerusalem - the pinnacle of the temple. The ancient Jewish historian Josephus wrote about this lofty point of the temple. He said that it was so high, and that the Kedron Valley it overlooked was - from that vantage point - so deep, that if anyone stood at that point and looked down, "he would be giddy, while his sight could not reach to such an immense depth."1

And as Jesus looked down from this height to the temple court below, it was then that the devil's temptation came. His first temptation was to call Jesus to distrust in God's providence; and now it was to call Jesus to presume upon it. "If You are the Son of God, then jump! Throw Yourself down! You quoted the Scriptures to me. Well; don't the Scriptures promise that God will send His angels to bear You up in their hands? Just think of what a picture that would give to the people down below! Surely everyone will believe that You are the Son of God, as they see You descend from the highest point of the temple - being borne up by the hands of the angels! There would be no need to say anything further! There would certainly be no need for the cross! Everyone would believe! Instant Messiahship! God has promised! All you have to do is jump!"

We get a better picture of what's happening if we look at what the passage the devil is quoting really says. If we do, you'll see that he left some important things out when he quoted it; and you can then detect the subtile trick of the devil. Psalm 91:9-12 actually reads,

Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways,
In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone (Psalm 91:9-12).

The context of this psalm is that of a man who makes God his refuge and dwelling place - the man who utterly trusts God for protection and preservation. It's a promise that God will protect the man who so trusts Him. And this context give meaning to the portion that the devil omitted; that God would give His angels charge over such a man, "to keep you in all your ways". Those "ways" are the ways of a man or woman who trust God as His or her refuge in a time of evil - times that are outside of his or her control. It's not an invitation to throw one's self off a high tower and expect God to respond to such presumption. Always beware when the devil quotes the Bible. Always watch for how he takes it out of context, or leaves portions out.

And note Jesus' response. It's interesting that Jesus doesn't say, "Ah, but devil; you left a part out!" The devil DID leave something out; but Jesus didn't respond by filling in what was omitted. Instead, Jesus quotes another passage of Scripture that corrects the devil's misuse of the first one. Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 6:16; and we're told, "Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God'" (v. 7). The idea that Jesus asserted is that we are not to try to presumptuously force God's hand, and make Him prove that He will keep His promise. When we try to put God in a bind, and try to place Him in a situation that obliges Him to prove that He is trustworthy, we're showing that we're not trusting Him at all.

So, the devil's particular temptation in this second effort was to try to get Jesus to obtain glory through taking matters into His own hand apart from God's will. It was, at heart, a temptation to elevate Himself at the cost of stealing glory from His Father. This is a temptation that we all feel at one time or another; and again, Jesus experienced it fully - yet without sin.

* * * * * * * * * *

Twice the devil sought to tempt our Lord; and twice he failed to get Him to sin. And now comes the most desperate and most outrageous attempt of all. Matthew tells, "Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory" (4:8).

Apparently, something unique is happening here. We're not told which mountain this is - except that it is an exceedingly high mountain. I'm not sure we even have to believe that it was somewhere in the land of Israel; because it was from there that the devil - somehow - paraded all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory, before the eyes of the Lord Jesus. We know this is something very unique, because Luke tells us that he showed it all to Him "in a moment of time" (Luke 4:5).

And then comes the most outlandish offer in all of history! "And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me" (v. 9). Can you imagine such a thing? Here's the fallen creature demanding that the eternal Son of God fall before him and worship him! He's saying, "Listen; I know what You're after. You are destined to be King of kings and Lord of lords. You are destined to rule this earth. But let's make it easy. Here's an offer You can't refuse. You fall down and worship me; and I'll give You all the kingdoms of this world and their glory! That's what You're after, isn't it? See how they all sparkle? See how they shimmer in the horizon? And all Yours for the taking! This way, there'll be no suffering - no cross. All You have to do is fall down and worship me; and it will all automatically belong to You." Here, we see that the devil took our Lord to the highest possible mountain in order to commit the highest possible outrage!

Well, a couple of things need to be said. First of all, the devil was offering a stolen gift and nothing more. None of those kingdoms were his by right; and none of them would be in his hand for long. And what's more, we know from the Scriptures that nothing the devil ever gives to anyone is theirs to keep. He promised our first parents that they would be like God if they but ate of the fruit - and they found out the hard way that "he is a liar and the father of it" (John 8:44). All of those kingdoms - and their glory - would indeed belong to Christ; but only after the suffering of the cross; and so, the Lord didn't fall for the devil's lie.

And second, even if the kingdoms of the earth really had been the devil's to give, the cost of receiving them was too high. Jesus again quoted from the Book of Deuteronomy - specifically from Deuteronomy 6:13; and this time, there's a sense that Jesus' answer was final: "Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'"

The passage that Jesus quoted from, again, bears a remarkable relevance to Jesus' situation; and we can't really understand what He said unless we read that passage. In it, God is again speaking to the people of Israel, just before they entered the promised land; and it says,

So it shall be, when the LORD your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant - when you have eaten and are full - then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. You shall fear the LORD your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are all around you (for the LORD your God is a jealous God among you), lest the anger of the LORD your God be aroused against you and destroy you from the face of the earth (Deuteronomy 6:10-15).

And can you see from this passage what the temptation of the devil was? He was seeking to tempt the Lord to put the temporal treasures over eternal things. He is seeking to make the Lord so lust after the riches that He can see with His eyes, that He would abandon the One who gives all good things to those who trust Him. This is a temptation everyone feels - especially in the prosperous culture we live in. Jesus felt it too - and yet did not sin.

* * * * * * * * * *

Matthew tells us, "Then the devil left Him . . ." (v. 11); although we know from Luke's Gospel that it was only "until an opportune time" (Luke 4:13). He would be back. But for now, the time of testing had come to an end. Then, after the devil left Jesus, Matthew tells us, "and behold, angels came and ministered to Him." My belief is that they had been waiting eagerly for the tempter to leave so they could come and serve their Lord.

This leads us, now, to consider . . .


1. Temptations are an expected part of the Christian experience. We may wish that we could get to a place in our lives where we could completely escape them, but we cannot. God has designed them to be a part of our experience in order to teach us and train us and refine us. We learn this from the fact that the Holy Spirit Himself led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. As the apostle Peter says, we are to rejoice in our hope of future glory; "though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:6-7).

2. Though He may allow them into our lives, enticements to sin do not come from God. We learn this from the fact that, though the Spirit led Jesus to be tempted by the devil, it was the devil himself that did the tempting. The apostle James, as we have already seen, has taught us this; "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone" (James 1:13). If we fall and stumble, we cannot blame God for it. In fact, it's one of the devil's great tactics to cause us to blame God for our own sins. James goes on to clearly say, "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren" (vv. 14-16). It's the devil that seeks to capitalize on our weaknesses and to move us to give in to our desires. It's God's intention, however, to strengthen us and train us to bring those desires under His Lordship.

3. Such temptations may come immediately after a spiritual high-point. We learn this from the fact that Jesus experienced these temptations immediately after His baptism - at which time the Holy Spirit came visibly upon Him, and the Father declared His delight in Him. The Lord knew what was ahead of Him after His baptism; but we don't know what the devil may have in store for us after a time of deep spiritual growth, or after a particularly enriching experience of God's love and grace. We need to be on guard at such times. Paul warns us, "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (1 Corinthians 10:12).

4. Temptations come in three basic areas. Jesus was tempted by the devil in three ways. First, He was tempted by the pull of the flesh - to make stones turn into bread in disobedience to God's will. Second, He was tempted by the pull of pride - to throw Himself off the temple and steal glory for Himself. Third, He was tempted by the pull of the eyes - to bow down and worship the devil in order to have all the glory of the earth as His immediate possession. Those three things are what the apostle John warned us about when he said, "Do not love the world or the things of 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" (1 John 2:15-17). It was in these three ways that the devil caused the woman in the garden to fall into sin; because "she saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise" (Gen. 3:6). These are the three passions through which the devil tries to get us to stumble. They're the passions that inspire this world's three favorite slogans: "If it feels good, do it" (the lust of the flesh); "Whoever dies with the most toys wins" (the lust of the eyes); and "I did it my way" (the boastful pride of life). All temptations that the devil throws at us can be seen as falling into one of these three categories. We need to be on our guard in these three areas at all times.

5. We resist the temptations of the devil by turning to God's word. The Lord demonstrated this for us each of the three times that the devil tempted Him. The apostle Paul told us that, among the weapons we are to use in our spiritual battles, we are to use "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17). Jesus demonstrated that we need to know our whole Bibles well. He quoted from Deuteronomy - and how many Christians have ever even read Deuteronomy? He quoted it precisely - that is, using passages that were remarkably applicable to His situation. And He quoted them aloud - that is, He had memorized them and had them at the ready. "Your word I have hidden in my heart", it says in Psalm 119:11, "that I might not sin against You."

6. When we resist him in the power of God's word, the devil flees. If we try to resist Him in our own efforts, of course, then he stays to gain an easy victory over us! But Jesus' example teaches us that the devil cannot stand it when we persistently resist him by resorting to faith in God's word. He may only leave for a time and try again later; but he will flee each time we take refuge in God's faithful word. Peter wrote, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world" (1 Peter 5:8-9). James tells us plainly, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).

7. After the temptation is over, God provides comfort. This is a great encouragement. There is an end to the time of testing. We learn this from the fact that, when the time of our Lord's temptation had come to an end, angels came and ministered to Him. Likewise, they stand ready to help us. Hebrews 1:14 says, "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?"

God sustains us during the temptation too. Paul wrote, "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" (1 Corinthians 10:3). In fact, I believe the Lord's own example is intended to encourage us and give us comfort; "For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls" (Hebrews 12:3).

* * * * * * * * * *

Now, these are all practical lessons we can learn from the temptation of our Lord. But as I said at the beginning, I believe that the greatest lesson of all is a spiritual truth about our Lord - and I quote it again:

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 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. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).

As the writer of Hebrews says, "For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted" (Hebrews 2:18). Are you ever tempted to give in to the pull of the flesh, and do what "feels good" in disobedience to God? So was Jesus - and He is able to help you. Are you ever tempted to gratify your pride, and to elevate yourself over others and over God Himself? Jesus felt that temptation too - and He is able to help you resist. Do you ever lust after this world's goods, and feel tempted to grab things for yourself that it's not God's will for you to have? Jesus understands that feeling by personal experience - and He is able to strengthen you.

Let's turn then to our gracious and tender Savior in our times of darkest need and deepest temptation. He knows how it feels to be tempted by the things that tempt us. And because He was victorious over temptation, He is wonderfully able and willing to help all who turn to Him.

1Josephus, The Antiquities of The Jews, 15.412.

Missed a message? Check the Archives!

Copyright © 2004 Bethany Bible Church, All Rights Reserved

Printable Version
Bethany Bible Church, 18245 NW Germantown Road, Portland, OR 97231 / 503.645.1436

Site Map | Privacy Policy | Copyright Information