Everyone has been tempted at one time or another in their life. Some temptations come from our own thoughts and lusty flesh. For example my brain is tired so it tells my stomach to eat and my hands reach for a lush big piece of chocolate mocha cake rather than a healthier alternative such as an apple. I have often thought that if apples came in chocolate flavor I would be more likely to eat more of them! Other temptations, however, come from Satan just as he tempted Jesus, take a look.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 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.’” Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand 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, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’” Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, 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 things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’” Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him. Matthew 4:1-11, (New American Standard Bible or NASB).
Why was Jesus tempted by Satan? After all it should have been a foregone conclusion that the Son of God would not bow to Satan who was lower in the chain of command than Jesus was when they were all in heaven. I think first of all Satan thinks to highly of himself and believes that he can defeat Christ. Big mistake on his part, but that really isn’t all that different from many people today who think they will live the way they want to and mock the things of God and yet think that they will be in heaven. They are as deceived as their boss Satan, don’t you think? Jesus was tempted to fulfill scripture by showing us that while He lived on this earth the human experience was fully experienced by Him. He was tempted and we are tempted by the father of all lies, Satan.
I love the fact that with each temptation offered to Christ by Satan the knowledge of scripture was used to refute and rebuke Satan by Christ. That should speak volumes to you and me as to the importance of understanding our Bible thoroughly. I think it is important for us today to know how to handle temptations when they come along our path. I’m talking about the temptations that Satan brings to us. I was thinking about this and thought of another scripture to examine.
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 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. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:6-11, (NASB).
Satan is looking for someone to destroy and that someone will be a Christian and Satan will do his level best to destroy that person and anyone who loves them. Satan hates God and Christ and therefore he hates us (John 15:18). We have so many examples of this pattern of destruction in our world today. I was thinking of four men I know personally who have fallen to some temptation or another and are either in jail, in prison, or should be in prison. Or what about the Christian family that is being destroyed by one member who is a drug addict. They are certainly being tempted and Satan is doing a great job in destroying that family. Divorce is another destruction tool used by Satan to try to devour us. Yes there are many temptations in our world today but how we respond to them is what I want to focus on right now. Operative word here is focus!
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. That is the admonition in the passage we just read. I think in today’s language we would say to stay focused on Jesus and watch out for temptations, see them and avoid them. So how do we achieve such a focused mind? Jesus told us in the first answer He gave to Satan when He was tempted. He said that we don’t live by food only but by the word of God. That means we need to know our Bible, to study God’s word and to be focused on the teachings of God. We need to read our owner’s manual for life which is the Bible! James tells us that we need to get serious about our relationship with Christ and obey.
What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. James 4:1-10, (NASB).
In order for us to become focused on the word of God we need to be humble. Believe me after Satan is through with you, if you are a true Christian, you will be humble but wouldn’t it be much better for you and your family if you skipped the temptation by being humble in the first place? I think so. Be humble enough to submit your life to the obedience that a righteous life requires. When you do submit you won’t find being obedient difficult because you will want to be obedient, and you will want to be righteous and live a righteous life. That is the fruit of being focused on God as a follower of Christ.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:10-17, (NASB).
Temptation will come to each and every Christian but if we are sober-minded and prepared for the temptation then we will be able to answer each temptation thrown at us by Satan in the same way that Jesus did. We will know what scriptural answer to give and what scriptures to obey in order to avoid being devoured. Remember what James says, that if we resist Satan he will flee from us. How do we resist Satan? We resist by standing firm well-grounded in the scripture and being able and capable of giving that old Devil a verbal beat-down! We can do just as Jesus did. When that temptation time is over I am pretty sure that the angels will come and minister to you just as they did to Jesus. Oh how wonderful our God is! There’s one more thing to remember.
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13, (NASB).
Now that is something to celebrate! God is with us dear Christians. Let’s never forget that when we are in the midst of temptation. Stay focused, stay alert, and resist the prodding of Satan!