Matthew 4:1-11 ESV
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and 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 will command his angels concerning you,’
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”
Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
Temptation to Sin
Although God does not tempt us to sin, he does allow us to be tempted by Satan. He does allow us to go through trials and testing to try our faith, for our suffering produces endurance, character and hope.
When we share in Christ’s sufferings, we are becoming like him in his death. When we go through difficult times which test our faith, it produces in us steadfastness of spirit and maturity in Christ, which results in the praise and glory of God. Our trials teach us to rely on God and not on ourselves, and they are for the purpose that we may share in God’s holiness. Jesus learned obedience through the things which he suffered, scripture teaches us.
(See: Jas. 1:2-4; Rom. 5:3-5; Phil. 3:7-11; 1 Pet. 1:6-7; 1 Pet. 4:12-17; 2 Co. 1:3-11; Heb. 5:7-9).
Satan likes to tempt us to doubt God, to question his sovereignty, to question his ability to take care of our needs, and to make us feel as though we need to take matters into our own hands, as though God is not capable of providing for us all that we need.
He tries to make us think we need things we don’t really need and to get our minds off the essentials and on to what is temporal, so that we miss what is most important while we focus our time and attention on what is passing away.
One of the biggest ways in which Satan attacks me and my mind is through vague accusations, trying to convince me that I am sinning against God but with no real conviction of any specific sin. And, he tempts me to fear what others might be saying about me behind my back or what evil my enemies may be plotting against me when I am not present.
His goal is to defeat me in any way that he can because I am sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and writing devotions every day at the direction of my Lord. So, I must, too, respond to his temptations with the truth of the Word of God, and fight off his lies and his temptations with what I know is truth.
Matthew 4:12-17 ESV
Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people dwelling in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
on them a light has dawned.”
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
A Light Has Dawned
There are many people today who are living in darkness, who are walking according to the flesh, and not according to the Spirit. Their minds are on the things of this world and not on Jesus Christ and God’s eternal kingdom. They are lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, some of them having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. They are always learning, but never coming to the knowledge of the truth (2 Tim. 3:1-9).
Some of them profess to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives, but they have not repented of their sins nor have they turned to follow Jesus Christ with their lives. They have not been crucified with Christ in death to sin, so they have not been resurrected with Christ (in new birth) to newness of life, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. They are still walking in sin, so they do not have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven, although many think that they do (See: Rom. 8:1-17).
But, they are without excuse, because God has revealed himself to all humankind. He has made himself known to all people through his created works.
It is not that people don’t know about God, but that they refuse to obey him and do what they know is right. They do not honor God for the holy God that He is nor do they thank him for all that he has done for them. For, their minds are on the flesh and on fulfilling their lustful desires, instead (See: Rom. 1:18-32).
And, this includes many who claim faith in Jesus Christ, too, many of whom have much scriptural knowledge and know right from wrong, but who choose to follow after their lusts rather than to follow after the Spirit. For, it is not that the light has not dawned in their lives, but that they do not want to come into the light for it will expose their evil deeds which they are hiding in secret (See: Jn. 3:19-21).
So, the message here is that they must repent of their sins, they must turn from them and turn to follow Jesus Christ with their lives, in full surrender to his will for their lives. For, if we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, not have the hope of eternal life with God (See: Gal. 5:19-21).
Matthew 4:18-22 ESV
While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
Following Jesus Christ
Believing in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives means we leave our former lives of living for sin and self behind us and we follow Jesus Christ with our lives, going wherever he sends us, and doing whatever it is he commands us to do. Our faith in him is God-given, if it is true faith, which is divinely persuaded of God as to God’s righteousness and holiness and of our need to forsake our sins and to live to his righteousness, for this is why Jesus died (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; Eph. 4:17-24).
Not only do we leave sin and self behind to follow Jesus Christ with our lives, but we also live to please our Lord, and we love others with his love. To love as God loves means to prefer what God prefers, which is what is holy, righteous, good, just, kind, tenderhearted, forgiving, honest, pure, trustworthy, and faithful, etc.
So, we will not do harm to others, but we will do what is beneficial for others, and what will hopefully bring them to faith in Jesus Christ. Thus, we will also be Christ’s witnesses and his messengers in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ so that many will turn their hearts to the Lord and will follow him with their lives in obedience to his will for their lives. Therefore, we will put others’ good above ourselves and our own reputations, and we will tell them the truth, in love, even if they hate us and mistreat us in return.
An Original Work / May 30, 2011
“Fill me with Your Spirit;
help me to love others;
Let me know Your power;
be an overcomer.
Show me how to follow
Jesus Christ, my Savior;
Be His faithful servant
to obey Him always.
“Lead me with Your presence;
help me know the right way;
Teach me love and kindness,
Give me grace and courage
to be Jesus’ witness,
Teaching His salvation
to a world who needs Him.”
Won’t you come and follow
Jesus Christ, your Savior?
He died so you’d be
free of control of your sin;
Free to follow His ways
in complete surrender;
Living sacrifices –
let His grace transform you.
Thursday, July 12, 2018 – Thank You, Jesus, for these encouraging words. Thank you that, through faith in You, we can combat Satan, flee from temptation, daily put on the armor of God, and walk in the Spirit and no longer to please our sinful flesh! Amen!