Now today we come to Matthew chapter 4, and we’re going to see the same principle in the life of Jesus, that there’s this lion that comes, the devil, at the very beginning of his ministry. And we’re reminded, that given the opportunity, this lion will come and devour, there’s no doubt about it. He will used whatever he can, any moment, doesn’t matter, he doesn’t play by the rules. He will come and seek to destroy [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/Satan/satan.htm]
Threefold Temptation of Jesus
Matthew 4:1-11, “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written, Thou shalt not tempt the LORD thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things I will give to thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the LORD thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and behold, angels came and ministered unto him.”
Now, How Are You Being Led And Directed By The Holy Spirit?
Now Mark notes this, and just gives a real brief thought on it, but Mark says that the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness, he uses the word “drove.” And that word “drove” speaks of the fierceness and seriousness, it says that Jesus was powerfully moved, moved in his heart, directed by the Spirit, very powerfully, right after he was baptized, to head into the wilderness for a very clear purpose.
First, we realize, we learn that he’s filled with the Holy Spirit. But we know from chapter 3 that when Jesus was baptized it says the Spirit of God came upon him But then Luke says, when Luke comes to this story in chapter 4 of Luke, verse 1, it says “Then Jesus being filled with the Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” So Jesus is filled with the Spirit, and thus he’s led by the Spirit. You know, when I’m filled I’m more often led. When I’m under the power of the Spirit, and that’s the picture, when the Spirit of God comes upon him, so he’s under that sense that now he’s led, he’s hearing the leading of the Spirit of God in his life. Now, how are you in being led and directed by the Holy Spirit? Is that something that you experience, you sense, you know many times God leads and directs your steps? If that’s something that’s lacking in your Christian experience, and if it’s something that’s been difficult for you, it might be because you’re not filled with the Spirit. Paul says to the Church, he says, “be filled with the Spirit.” The Spirit of God is in me, but I need to be filled. And so if you’re struggling in hearing and being led, maybe it’s because you’re not filled. And so today I would encourage you, ask God right now. It’s by faith. Open your heart to him, and say, “God, fill me with the Spirit.” We know he’s filled with the Spirit, secondly we also know he’s been led into the wilderness, as it says here. He’s out in the desert alone, nobody’s around, just wild beasts, creepy-crawlies, snakes and things that run around and eat people for meals.
After 40 Days Of No Food, Satan Attacks
40 days, 40 nights he’s alone in the wilderness. We also know that he’s not eaten anything for those 40 days, and thus he’s hungry, very hungry. If you go on an extended fast, there’s that initial time when you’re very hungry, but it’s true then, your body realizes, ‘Hey, I’m not getting any more food, I need to kind of change the plan here,’ stomach or whatever shuts down, and in a different way you start to digest your body fats and things. So as you fast long fasts, after awhile the hunger goes away. But then there is a point in time where your body’s done eating up all the fat and all that, that it then says ‘I need something,’ and the hunger comes back. And it’s a hunger in a sense that if you don’t eat something soon, you’re gonna die. So it’s been a fast, 40 days, he’s a man, so now there’s this hunger that’s returned, it’s deep hunger, it’s a great hunger. Humanly speaking, he’s in a vulnerable place. We don’t get this here, but from the other Gospels, Mark chapter 1, verse 13 and in Luke chapter 4, verse 2, here it seems that the devil shows up at the end, and he does, but yet it seems from the others he’s been around a little bit more at other times. In those other passages you get the sense that he’s come about a little bit and harassed Jesus, and left, and harassed Jesus, and left. But now he sees an opportunity, so he comes back. Jesus is weak, he’s very vulnerable, extremely hungry, he’s all alone. And Satan attacks, no holds barred, he goes right for the vulnerability, attacks him right in that area of weakness when he comes. He’ll come and tempt in any way possible, he’ll do whatever he can to cause me to stumble. And there’s absolutely positively no “off-limits,” for such is his heart. He’ll go as far as he’s allowed to, regardless of how cruel it may seem or how deceptive or how manipulative or how unfair it might appear in the end. Given the opportunity, whatever it is, he’ll take it and do whatever he possibly can do to influence us to sin. Now the devil can’t be all the places all the time, he’s not God, he’s limited, but he’s got a lot of guys, demons, that work for him. And how many that is I don’t know, but there seems to be a lot, according to the Scriptures (cf. Revelation 12:3-4, one third of all the angels turned, rebelled against God and followed Satan, becoming demons).
Purpose For Testing
And if we’re not wise, if we’re not led in the Spirit and strong in the Word, man, we can find ourselves, as a result, in a mess. It’s the beginning of the time of Jesus’ ministry that this happens. There are times in various ways, you can see the enemy is seeking to discourage or trying to tempt in various ways. You can see it as you go through the Gospels. But no doubt, there’s no surprise here at the beginning, because when you start out to follow the Lord in your life, as a Christian, but even in ministry, it seems that when you jump off that ledge of faith and now are going ‘I’m going to follow you Jesus, you’ve called me, and I trust you, here I go.’ And then, ‘Wow! Man! I was so weak, and I didn’t expect to be so weak, gosh this struggle all of a sudden, and these thoughts have never been in my head before,’ and now you have these other things happening in your life, and you wouldn’t have guessed. It happens. Beware, be ready, because it’s not uncommon, you start following the Lord, and suddenly the devil’s going ‘Ahh, they think they’re going to do that, I’d better discourage them, at least try. Get him or her off track, get him to trip up.’ They call this “spiritual warfare.” I’ve experienced that ever since starting this web ministry, and at times it’s been real serious. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/memphisbelle.htm. And sad to say, there are people that have been following the Lord in ministry that then are enticed, and are misled and are deceived, never would have expected that they would have done that, and then they do. Well so this passage serves as a warning to me, but also an encouragement, because it warns, it shows the tactics and strategies of the devil, but yet at the same time it also shows me the plan, our defense. When I read this, this time, I was immediately reminded of that prayer, a little bit later in Matthew chapter 6, that Jesus reminds us to pray, to the Father, “Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” God allowed Job to be tried by Satan, God allowed Job to be tested, and that does happen to me, and it happens for a purpose. It happens to prove me, and to test me, and to reveal in my own life where my heart is at. And as a Christian, as I grow I find that as these testings come of the Lord, I do find that I grow, and I rejoice in that, that I didn’t buckle as early, and was able to trust God through that trial and temptation.
Why Is Jesus Led Into The Wilderness To Be Tested And Tempted By Satan?---three reasons
1) But in this particular case, the reason why he’s led, the first reason is to show others how it’s done. Again, Matthew is taking different stories, experiences of Jesus to show his audience that this is indeed the Messiah.
2) The second reason is Jesus is being prepared here to be that Priest, our High Priest, for his priestly ministry. It’s through these trials, these experiences, he came to endure these things so that he can be my sympathetic high priest. So he knows what human weakness is like, he knows what temptation is like. This is a temptation, a strong one. So, I now have a high priest that I can identify with, and he can identify with me.
3) And thirdly, he does this to demonstrate to me how I can have victory, and how I can withstand temptation through him. Furthermore, he also reveals the tactics of the devil, and how I can overcome those tactics.
For each and every one of us in this room, there is a planned victory, there is a guaranteed path that you and I can go where we’ll stand victoriously every time. Jesus knows the deal, and he knows the way to victory, guaranteed every time. As a man, or as a woman, a Christian, there is a way, and it’s through him. There is power in prayer and fasting, so there is spiritual beauty that’s going on there. When you fast, I find, you know that’s another way I can prepare for spiritual battles is through fasting. So in one way he’s very strong, yet his body is crying out for food, he’s physically very weak.
1. First Temptation: The lust of the flesh, putting the physical above the spiritual
Verses 1-4, “And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If [Since] thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” ‘If you’re the Son of God, come on, come on Jesus, you’re a hungry man, aren’t you? Gone a long time without food. Look at those rocks, come on, since you’re the Son of God, turn some of them into bread. Let’s go, Jesus, let’s see you do it.’ The class condition for the word “If” in the Greek makes it really read “Since”, ‘Since you’re the Son of God.’
Don’t forget, Jesus, as the pre-Incarnate Christ, Yahweh, had been around a long, long time, forever in fact. Satan, as a created being has been around a long too, but not forever. see http://www.unityinchrist.com/john/john1-1-5.html.
Now the temptation is to put the physical above the spiritual, which Jesus never did
This temptation coming from Satan was to act independently of the Father. The Father through the Holy Spirit has led him into the wilderness to fast and pray. And he’s perfectly following the Holy Spirit, following the Father. So it’s a temptation to act independently, for a moment, because of the physical need, and to provide for your own needs outside of God the Father. Chapter 6, verse 36 of John says “For I have come down from heaven not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.” You know, it’s crucial for you and I to understand that Jesus here is standing as a man, he is God, but he’s here as a man. And it’s as a man that he needs to resist this temptation, perfectly.
The importance of the Word of God, the Sword of the Spirit, and knowing it: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
That’s the only way you and I have hope, that as a man he does it, a man or woman like you and I, a man yielded to the power of the Holy Spirit, a man yielded and filled with the Holy Spirit, and man with a good handle on the Word of God, able to resist this temptation. That’s the key for you and I to have hope. But Jesus responds to this seduction of the enemy with the Word of God, he says, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” He comes back and says, ‘I’m not going to live for the physical, that’s not the priority, the priority is the spiritual, and that’s where I’m at.’ And that’s how I combat the devil, with truth out of God’s Word. The devil’s a liar and he deceives. Revelation 12:9, “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Satan has the whole world deceived, except for those whose names are written in the Book of Life (cf. Revelation 13:8). Everyone who is not a genuine believer in Jesus Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit, is deceived by Satan. Some are deceived into believing Satan doesn’t really exist, and get this, that evil itself doesn’t even exist. I heard that one recently, nearly blew my socks off to hear that belief, in spite of all written history to the contrary on that one. But all the world, it’s societies, it’s governments are deceived, and under Satan’s ownership. But it’s not just coming back with the thought in my head, but it’s coming back with the will in my heart saying ‘This is the truth, and this is what I will do. What you’re saying is not the truth, and I’m not gonna do that. This is the truth, and I do the truth. I stick to it.’ As David said in Psalm 119, verse 11, “Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” That’s why it’s so imperative, important for believers to study God’s Word, the Bible every day for a minimum of from between one half hour to an hour a day. No kidding. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/ephesians/swordofspirit.htm. What’s also interesting, as he quotes from Deuteronomy chapter 8, in fact, each of his quotations, there’s three times he quotes the Scripture, in each instance, it’s within just a couple chapters, Deuteronomy chapter 6 to Deuteronomy chapter 8, a little section of the Bible. I’ve learned I need the daily manna, God’s Word for today. In some instances God gives me a word for the day, as I read in the Scripture, I get what I need for the battle that very day. And it’s because I have that verse in my head at that moment, it’s because I was wrestling with that passage when I went out the door, that later when I’m confronted with a situation, I’m like, ‘Wait a minute, I’m already prepared for this.’ Then I went out the door and I was ready for that battle. So, it’s very possible Jesus has been meditating on Deuteronomy 6, 7, and 8, Moses is speaking to the Israelites, and he’s reminding the Israelites, ‘God took you into the wilderness for 40 years,’ and for 40 years, the number 40, ‘he led you into the wilderness,’ and he says to the people of Israel, ‘to test you, to reveal your hearts, to see if you would keep the command of God.’ And as he goes on to say, Moses, ‘The testing included that God made you hungry, that God made you hungry so that you would learn that your need is ultimately provided by God, so God brought the manna. But to test you, even make you hungry.’ As men and women, as God’s people, you’re to learn that the physical doesn’t come first, but the spiritual comes first---‘Seek first his kingdom, and then God will provide for you,’ (Matthew 6:31-33). That’s exactly what Moses is saying in those verses. So now Jesus, 40, hungry, that same testing going on, enduring that. As Moses goes on to say, and Jesus quotes Moses, “Man shall not live by bread alone,” that’s what Moses says to the people of Israel, ‘You went through this, so that you would learn, that your priority should be God and his Word and his presence, and that God would take care of the rest.’ So the focus, the heart of this first lesson, the focus is spiritual first, not the physical. It’s better to go hungry than be satisfied outside the will of God. And maybe you’ve found that temptation in your own life, where you’ve gotten the physical before the spiritual. And you do, man, the devil works that way, he’ll set you up. So, “Man shall not live by bread alone,” the priority is God and his Kingdom, seek first his Kingdom, you’ll never regret it (cf. Matthew 6:31-33).
2. Second Temptation, the spiritual temptation: being presumptuous, and going outside of God’s stated will
Verses 5-7, “Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, If [Since] thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the LORD thy God.”
“It shows me that the devil does have power. He’s brought Jesus up there and set him there. It also shows me there’s something about the heart of Jesus, because Jesus at any moment can go ‘Blam! You’re gone!’ But yet he has a purpose, and in humility he’s completely subjected himself to certain forces and powers, to become like us, so that he can deliver us from these forces. Now the word “pinnacle” literally means “wing,” and therefore in history there are some who say that this might be what was called “Herod’s Royal Portico,” which overhung the Kidron Valley. And if you were there at this little portico, it would be 450 feet to the bottom, overlooking the valley.
Satan says to Jesus, “If” or “Since 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.’” Satan’s saying, ‘Listen, you just quoted to me the Word of God, you just told me ‘That I believe in the Word and I stand in the Word.’ Here’s the Scripture, quoted one, said you stand on it, here’s one, stand on it and jump. It says the Messiah, the Christ, that the angels will bear you up, and if you’re falling you won’t even harm yourself, you’ll just come down just like a parachute, they’ll just catch you. So here you are.’ He totally sets him up, very deceptive. ‘Jump!’ Now, what he does though, is he leaves out a key phrase in this Scripture he quoted to Christ, it is “In all thy ways” Psalm 91, verses 11 and 12, “He will keep you in all thy ways” meaning “all thy”, meaning the ways of God. Meaning he promises to protect, to give security as you are in “his ways”, God’s ways. If you get off the path, it may not apply. But he leaves that phrase out, drops it. So he’s deceptive. I tell you, that happens over and over and over to people, happens all the time. People are getting going, I don’t know how many times I’ve seen it in this church, they just get going with the Lord, and somebody comes along and just twists the Scripture, and now they’re off, now they’re someplace doing some weird thing, believing some weird things, and just twisting and turning, and taking passages so they can say “I know this is right, I know I can do this.” And you’re like, ‘You can’t do that, because you’re violating so many other Scriptures. You’re forgetting this part.’ The devil does that so much. Well he’s seeking, the temptation here in this twisting of Scripture, is a sin of presumption, that just, ‘go for it and watch the miracle come.’ It’s a sin of presumption. And God is faithful to his promises, but we should not be testing the Lord presumptuously. And you can do that, too. It’s one thing to claim his promises and trust in his Word, it’s a whole other thing to go out and be presumptuous.
3. Third Temptation: Who do you worship? “Thou shalt worship the LORD thy God, and him only shalt thou serve”
Verses 8-11, “Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the LORD thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and behold, angels came and ministered unto him.”
‘Well the devil says to him, ‘All these things I will give to you if you fall down and worship me.’ (verse 9) Greek for the word when it says “If you’ll fall down and worship me,” actually the force of that is ‘To be quick, just bend the knee. If you do that, I’ll give you all this, look at this, man. You’ve got another plan, you’re going in another direction, you don’t have to go that way. Here is an easier way, here’s a short-cut, you just bend the knee man, and look what I’ll give you.’ You know he basically comes to a man or a woman and says, ‘What’s the price? Awh, I can tell you, that’s the price-tag. Right? Here you go. You follow me, you do this, you head in this direction, you let me influence you this way, here’s the price-tag. You’ve got it, I pay for it.’ People will make that deal with the devil, Rock Stars have, it’s been documented. They’ll say ‘Hey, you got my body, and I’ll sell my character, my integrity, that’s popularity, man, you can take it all.’ It happens in the Hollywood realm and the Rock’n Roll and Rock Star realm all the time. It happens on smaller scales, you know, the devil comes and says ‘I’ll give you that promotion. We’ll work this out, man, but you just, a little bit of fast deal here, you just have to agree to this, just have to cover this one’ And so the price-tag, and people are moving along, and the devil is the prince of the world, and so he can move and shake things around. So I guess the question to you, what’s your price? Is there a price? I tell you what, when he knows there’s a price, he’s often able to come and give and pay the price, and lead people into compromise. And I tell you in the end it’s just bondage. Of course the road that Jesus is on, the baptism depicted he’s headed to, the cross to die for the sin of the world. And in that, he’s the redeemer, he’s going to redeem all of the creation back to God. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/kingdomofgod/mkg1.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/E-Mails/June%2014/FallHolyDays-short.htm to read about what Satan’s evil world is like today, and what it’s going to be replaced by when Jesus returns, redeeming this world and the people living in it who are now under Satan’s hidden dominion. Jesus understands that in the end he will inherit the whole world, and that this is just a lie from Satan, just a temporary deal (cf. Zechariah 14:9). If he heads for the course leading to the cross, what that’s going to mean in the end, and in the end he’s going to have glory. And we will end up sharing that glory if we don’t toss it away for a cheap substitute.
Jesus orders Satan to get out, and then the angels come and minister to him
Verses 10-11, “Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and behold, angels came and ministered unto him.” This gives us the example that now too through the Word of God and the Spirit, we can stand. So, the big question here is “Whose your Daddy?”
Who is Satan? see,