Tempted by the Devil

Led up by the Spirit
Matthew 4:1 ESV

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”

Compare this to this passage of Scripture in Isaiah 53:10:

Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.

And also compare this to Job 1:6-12 (quoting vv. 8 and 12):

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” V. 8

The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” V. 12

God does not tempt us to sin, but he allows us to be tempted of the devil to sin. He allows us to go through times of temptation in order to test our faith. He allows us to suffer for righteousness’ sake. He permits us to be persecuted, rejected, hated, mistreated, scorned, oppressed, lied to, lied about, cheated on, slandered, ridiculed, and falsely accused, etc.

And sometimes it is for the salvation of lives. For, when we go through times of difficulty where Satan puts on the pressure, it tries our faith, and it moves us to call on God for help, and we learn to rely on God and not on ourselves. And it is so we grow to maturity in Christ, and so we learn perseverance and steadfastness, and so we share God’s holiness, and so that we who have been trained by the Lord’s discipline may yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

And having gone through these times of difficulty, and having our faith strengthened and our hearts purified, we are much more passionate about the Lord and his word, and about obeying him, and about walking in his holiness and righteousness. And we are much more passionate about resisting the devil, fleeing temptation, and drawing near to God.

And so we are also much more passionate about sharing the truth of the gospel with others and warning them against complacency and against falling back into sin. And we are much more passionate about calling people to leave their lives of sin behind them and to follow Jesus in obedience to his ways. For we know Satan’s schemes against us, and we know how much sin destroys lives, and we know that God means what he says and that he will send people to hell, too. So we are passionate about saving lives, too.

And God the Father allowed his only Begotten Son to suffer and to die for us on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us; and so we would now honor God with our bodies because Jesus shed his blood for us to buy us back for God (to redeem us).

To Be Tempted by the Devil
Matthew 4:2-11 ESV

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,’

and

“‘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.

The “IF” Statements

When you read this dialogue between Jesus and the devil, what stands out at you the most? What are some key elements of this encounter that you see that you believe are significant? How does it speak to you?

The first thing I noticed were the “if” clauses. “If” is a word used a lot in the New Testament to say that what follows is conditional, such as “if” this is true, then this is what follows, or “if” you do this or that, these are the results that you can expect. “If” is also used a lot to suggest that something may or may not be true, or it can be used to cause someone to doubt, question, or examine the truth of something.

In the case of the devil’s first two “if” clauses, he was trying to tempt Jesus to question the truth: “If you are the Son of God.” He was trying to tempt him to feel as though he had to prove himself to be who he is. But Jesus did not bite. And then the third “if” phrase was a conditional one: “If you will fall down and worship me,” as though all the kingdoms of the world did not already belong to Jesus Christ. So, this was to get him to doubt, also.

But Satan loves to try to get us to doubt God and his word, and to doubt who Jesus says he is, and to get us to doubt if God really said this or that, like when he tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden. He loves to try to get us to doubt our relationship with the Lord, too, and who we are as God’s children, but let me interject this here:

Just because we say we are “in Christ,” it doesn’t mean we are “in Christ,” for “in Christ” has stipulations, requirements, and conditions for being “in Christ.” So, we can’t live in sin and in order to not feel guilty for our deliberate and habitual sin then “claim who we are in Christ” as a way to justify sin or to appease our guilty consciences.

So, when I say that Satan will try to get us to doubt our relationships with the Lord, I am speaking of who we are in Christ which is evidenced by how we live our lives. For “in Christ” means we are walking no longer according to the flesh but now according to the Spirit, and by the Spirit we are in the practice of putting to death the deeds of flesh and obeying our Lord.

But if we are walking with the Lord, in obedience to his commands, Satan will definitely come against us with “if” statements to try to get us to doubt God and his word and our own relationships with him and perhaps our own sanity, at times, too, when others call us “crazy” for following Jesus Christ in faithful obedience to his commands and to his calling on our lives.

The Biblical Responses

The second most prominent thing that stood out to me here is how Jesus responded to the devil’s temptations with the truth of God’s word. For, Satan wasn’t just trying to tempt Jesus to sin, but he was trying to get him to say something in order to discredit him, to try to get him to get angry or to doubt and fear and thus to take matters into his own hands.

And the devil works the same way in our lives, too, and he uses other humans against us to try to get us worked up over things, to get us stirred emotionally, to get us angry or afraid. And if you are on the internet much, such as on social media, in the blogging world, or on Christian discussion sites, etc., you will find that many people are on these places just to play the devil’s advocate, i.e. just to get responses out of people.

And so you will get a variety of responses from people when you post or share or tweet something on the internet. Some of them will be positive responses, and some of them not. Some of them you will learn are trolls, people who just like stirring things up, or they are just trying to get a reaction, or they will get nasty and make hateful and cutting remarks – all hoping to get you to respond in your flesh and to thus “blow it.”

So, when you are sharing the teachings of Scripture and people oppose you, answer back with Scripture. Challenge them to point out what Scriptures they think you are misusing, and usually they won’t, because they are just making vague accusations not based on anything you really said, lots of times. So, don’t let them get you in a tizzy. Respond with truth.

Don’t be afraid of being challenged and be willing to give an answer for why you said what you did, but let it be Scriptural if what you are teaching is truth.

For, the biggest thing Satan is attacking right now is the truth of the gospel of our salvation, so this is where especially we must respond with Scripture and not with opinion. For Satan wants to say that we don’t have to stop sinning or obey Jesus, but Jesus died to deliver us from our bondage to sin and to make us into new creations in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

[Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15; Tit 2:11-14; Rom 12:1-2; Jas 1:22-25; 1 Jn 1:5-9]

Mary, Did You Know?

Songwriters: Greene Lee Rufus / Lowry Mark Alan

Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy
Has come to make you new?
This child that you delivered, will soon deliver you

Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy
Is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
That sleeping child you’re
Holding is the great, I Am

Mary, did you know?

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