Friday, April 29, 2016

One-on-one with Satan: Jesus

This post is adapted from my Bible study, Storms of Life

Last week we looked at the three lies Satan told Eve to confuse her and to cause her to disobey God. If you missed that post, you can find it here.

For Satan to tempt Eve is one thing, but for him to have the nerve to attack God's Son shows how prideful he is. In the encounter described in Matthew 4, Satan believed he could stand face-to-face with God and defeat Him. Let's learn from Jesus' responses.

What a change of scenery! After John the Baptist baptized Jesus, God proclaimed that Jesus was His Son (Matthew 3:13-17). But, rather than allow Jesus to begin His ministry in the wake of this amazing event, God led Jesus into the desert to be tempted. 

Why? Did God need to test Jesus' obedience? Of course not!  Jesus was Holy God, wrapped in flesh. Instead, God's aim was to teach us, to provide us with weapons to defeat Satan's attacks. The enemy came to Jesus when He was weak and tried to trick Him with three lies that he still uses today.

1. You don't need God, you can take care of yourself!

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”  Matthew 4:1-4

Jesus was hungry. Of course He was, after 40 days in the desert. Satan took advantage of Jesus' physical weakness and tempted Him to put His needs before God's will. 

What's so wrong with  that? Why should Jesus go hungry - He was the Son of God, for pete's sake! Of course God would provide for Jesus at some point but why wait? Why starve for one more minute?

For Jesus to use His supernatural powers to meet His needs would violate God's plan: Jesus was to live as a man and trust God to supply all His needs. 

Satan knows each of our specific weaknesses and he uses the same tactic on us. He tempts us to satisfy our needs and desires apart from God. He encourages us to grab what we want without waiting on God. Of course God can meet our needs, but we can do a better job and we can do it now!

We can resist the enemy's temptation the same way Jesus did: through God's Word. Jesus says that our confidence is built on the truth and faithfulness of God's Word. When we throw our faith in God's provision back in Satan's face, we can stand strong against his lies. 

2. How can you be sure God will keep His promises?

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Matthew 4: 5-7

The bold-faced audacity! Satan quoted Scripture to Jesus! The words he spoke come from Psalm 91:11-12. He pulled out the phrases that suited his purpose but he left out that this promise has a condition: "if you  make the Most High your dwelling," (Psalm 91:9).

Will God protect you as He promised, Jesus? Let's just see! Throw yourself off this high point and force His hand. Make God prove Himself.

If Jesus had doubted God's protection on this day, would he have doubted God's promise to resurrect Him when He faced death on the cross? If He had chosen to test God's faithfulness, the spotless sacrifice would have been tarnished and our redemption would have been destroyed. 

Again, Jesus counters Satan's ploy with God's Word. I often rush ahead in my own will and, when everything's a mess, I cry out, "God, why didn't You keep Your promises to protect me?" We can stand strong in God's presence and in His protection. When we trust God's faithfulness, we won't need to challenge Him because our confidence is in Him. 

3. If you compromise, you can have all you want now!

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Matthew 4:8-11

I can't imagine how desperately tempting this must have been. Sure, Jesus knew the glory and kingship that awaited Him - on the other side of the cross. But Satan promised Jesus that He could be King, now. He could rule over all the nations, now. He could sit on the throne of glory, now.

But there was a condition: worship Satan instead of God. Would Jesus seize His glory now, with no pain and no agony - with no cross? 

If Jesus had chosen to avoid the cross and to seize His glory painlessly, all of us would still be condemned. Before Jesus could be King, He had to be Savior. 

A third time, Jesus stood on God's truth: Worship the Lord only! The temptation to gain through compromise is a dangerous one. Life will be so much easier if we step off of the narrow way and walk on the comfortable path of compromise. Jesus knew the glory that awaited Him was greater than anything Satan could offer Him and the same is true for us. What we can gain in the here and now pales in comparison to what God promises us: eternal life with Him.  

Do you see the pattern here? The most precious part of this account is that Jesus never once called upon His power as fully God.

He defeated Satan as fully man - using a weapon we all have sitting in our homes: God's Word. 

When we study God's Word and stay sensitive to His voice, He will bring His truth to mind and help us defeat Satan's strategies. He never leaves us defenseless. 

Praise the Lord, Jesus never wavered! 

How has God strengthened you to stand strong in the face of Satan's temptations?

Share your thoughts so we can grow in our faith together.

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  1. Sherry, thank you for the reminder that we have the same weapon Jesus used to fight the temptations of Satan - God's Word. What a great encouragement!

    1. God's Word gives us all the truth we need to stand strong. Thanks for stopping by, Crickett!

  2. Well said Sherry. Thanks for highlighting the way Jesus used God's truth instead of His power to rebuke Satan's lies. This is an excellent post showing us the way Christ wants us to use our faith to walk away from Satan's lies. God bless you, your family and friends.

    1. We sometimes forget the power in God's Word. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Walter!

  3. Sherry
    A powerful post and honest look into our faith and His faithfulness. I know #1 caused me much pain. I still need reminded sometimes what the word says.

  4. I've tripped over all of them at some point or another but #1 is my biggest weakness. Thanks for commenting, Deb!

  5. Thank you Sherry! Biblical and beautiful. Glad I have read this,

    1. Jesus has so much to teach us! Thanks for dropping by, Jedidja!

  6. Sherry
    This is a great post. When you look at the three temptation attempts, it zaps the power right out of them. I've had times of struggle with all three. The more we recognize them for what and who they are, the easier to ignore. Thanks much!

    1. God's Word renders Satan's temptations powerless, don't they, Deb? Thanks for stopping by!