Matthew 4:1-11 | How To Deal With Temptation?
Matthew 4:1-11 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6“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.’” 7Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” 11Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
All of us face temptation of some sort or the other. Probably, until the last day of our life, we will be dealing with one temptation or the other. Temptation is a part of life in this corrupt world.
Church father Jerome said, “Baptism does not drown the devil.” He’s right. Man has always struggled with temptation. We know it from the Old Testament; we know it from the New Testament. Adam faced temptation, king David faced temptation, Jesus faced temptation and every one of us face temptation in our life.
So the issue is how do you deal with temptation?
Can we live a life without temptation? No. But we don’t have to yield to it unless we choose to. You can deal with every temptation you are facing in your life.
Your temptation maybe something like gossip, anger, your use of money and the list can build into other avenues of temptation; but there is a way to deal with it.
Throughout history, man has relentlessly fought against the reality of temptation.
Illustration: An ancient writer records the following: St. Benedict sought an exemption from temptation by wearing a rough hair shirt and living as he did for three years in a desolate cave beyond the reach of man. He isolated himself and wore this hairy shirt to irritate his skin, his scanty food was let down to him at the end of a cord, and even there, says the writer, temptations beset him. The memory of a beautiful woman he had met haunted him continually, and it so impressed St. Benedict that he was on the point of leaving his seclusion to chase that woman. Near his cave was a clump of thorns and briars. Having undressed, he threw himself among them and rolled about until his nude body was covered with bleeding wounds, and this he continued until the infernal fire was extinguished forever. The battle of temptation.
From the least to the greatest, men and women have struggled with the reality of temptation. We have the good news: 1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptationhas overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be temptedbeyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
Temptation Is Going To Happen But God Has Designed A Way Out.
So you are never tempted above which you are able to bear.
God Tests Us But The Devil Tempts Us
So temptation can be both a temptation and a test. God can use it for testing for good, to prove that you can overcome. The devil can use it as a way to tempt you to fail.
Examples: We all face different circumstances where there’ll be testing, and Satan will endeavor to twist them into temptations. Maybe it’s a financial setback, maybe it’s a change in plans, maybe it’s mistreatment by somebody, maybe it’s, somebody’s death. Maybe it’s a problem in your home or your family that appears to have no solution. Maybe it’s a, a good deal that tempts you to do what is wrong.
Whatever it is, life is just jammed with full of testing grounds. And as we take them as a test, and as we endure them as a test, and as we find the way of escape that God has provided, we go through victoriously. But as Satan twists it to a temptation, and we succumb to the temptation, we fall to sin; we lose the victory.
There is a way to win in the temptation. If we want to know how to handle temptation, we can learn our lesson from Christ. Jesus was tempted but came out victoriously.
Matthew is presenting the temptation of Christ really for two reasons.
To Demonstrate That Jesus Is The King.
So if Satan is defeated by Christ, then Christ is established as the King of kings
To Show How The Believer Is To Tackle Testing And Temptation.
The Purpose. Satan wanted to seduce Christ to commit sin. And if he could get Christ to submit to sin and to commit an act of sin, he would then thwart the entire plan of God to overthrow the Messiah; that was the purpose.
The Place. The place was the wilderness. Difficult circumstances; a desolate, barren, lonely area inhabited by wild beasts.
The Temptation of Jesus
This was immediately after Jesus’ baptism. The temptation was immediately after the high point of Jesus’ life.
Matthew 3:16-17 16As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Satan sometimes hits us with the greatest attacks at the high points of our life. It is when we feel the most secure that we become the most vulnerable.
There were three aspects to the temptation. First: Matthew 4:3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
The first word Satan said, “if.” Satan creates doubt in us. So he tempts us with his evil whispers, breathing doubt into our souls.
The point of Satan was this: he wanted to make Jesus distrust the Father’s care.
Satan Tempts Us To Distrust The Providential Care Of God.
Satan’s temptation might have been worded like this: “Did God say you were His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased, and now He’s leaving you. Why should You starve in the wilderness when You have the power as God’s Son to turn the stones to bread? Had not God given His people manna in the wilderness, and they were less than Christ?”
If God is so well-pleased with you, if God is so concerned. If You are embarking on Your ministry, You must have Your physical needs supplied. Satan was telling that Jesus’ hunger was incompatible with His being the Son of God.
The crowd said the same thing at the cross. “If You’re the Son of God, get off that cross.”
You hear that voice of Satan, don’t you? “You’re a Christian. You deserve better than this. Get it your way. Don’t wait for God; He hasn’t delivered.”
You see, it was a wicked attempt to cause the Last Adam to fail where the first Adam. Adam had failed with a food issue. You see, the first Adam blew it with the apple, and Satan wanted the Last Adam to blow it with the bread. But the temptation was far beyond that.
The reply of Jesus: Matthew 4:4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Jesus relied on Scripture, Deuteronomy 8:3.
The principle then is this. The motive of my life is to do the will of God and believe God for all benefits.
Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
The only governing motive for life is to do the will of God, and when you do that you can leave the rest to Him; He’ll take care of it.
Matthew 4:5-6 5Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6“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.’”
Satan is quoting the Bible. He’s quoting Psalm 91:11-12
Now listen, if the sin of the first temptation is in doing it Himself against God’s will. Now He has to let God do it. This is a sin of presuming on God. “God, here I go; catch me if you are God.”
Satan Tempts Us To Presume On God.
What is presumptuous sin. Presumptuous sins are deliberate. They are committed with the full knowledge that they are sins in full light of what God has said. Presumptuous sins are premediated.
Psalm 19:13 Keep your servant also from willful sins.
KJV Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins.
Numbers 5:30-31 30“‘But anyone who sins defiantly/presumptuously (KJV), whether native-born or foreigner, blasphemes the Lord and must be cut off from the people of Israel. 31Because they have despised the Lord’s word and broken his commands, they must surely be cut off; their guilt remains on them.’”
Jesus answers to Satan: Matthew 4:7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:16
Tradition says that there were a lot of people who tried such stunts to prove that they are the Jewish messiah. These pretenders were forever trying to offer sensational appeals to the people to get instant public acceptance so that they would be thought of as the messiah. The one who seeks to attract man by providing them with sensations has embarked upon a procedure which never has an end.
That is exactly what people wanted. In John 6, Jesus He went up to the mountain and He fed them. Then Jesus across the sea and they were all there. They were there for food, Remember? Jesus said, “You seek me, not for the word that I teach, but for” – What? – “the food.” Then the people left Jesus.
If you want to attract people on that basis of sensation, you’ll have to just keep it up. And the day you don’t come through with the goods is the day they all move out.
Is this what God wanted? Did God expect His Messiah to pull off some fantastic stunt. No.. Did the Messiah come to be accepted by people?
Isaiah 53:2b-3a He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind…
You read all about His arrival, no acceptance. Public acceptance is never the proof of anything.
John 1:10-11 10He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.
You’re not to tempt God with your own plans.
Jesus knew that you never use God’s power to test God. You don’t put pressure on God to force Him to take care of you. There’s no sense putting yourself deliberately into a threatening situation and then expecting God to get you out of it.
First Temptation Was To Distrust The Providential Care Of God.
Satan Tempts Us To Presume On God.
Matthew 4:8-10 8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Third Temptation Was To Fulfill Our Ambition Our Own Way.
Satan says, “Just worship me, I will give you the Father’s will.” This was the promise of the Father to the Son that He was to have.
Psalm 2:8 Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.
But Satan says, “Compromise and get it my way. You can get it all by bypassing the cross, the death.” Instead of the long, bitter road to the throne, just one short bow and He’d get it. He could get it all at once – no shame; no hatred; no persecution, no crucifying. He could have it. Just what Satan told Eve, “Just eat the fruit and you shall be as God.”
Satan says to us, “I will give you whatever you want. Nice car, good home, happiness, money, everything. Just don’t seek first the kingdom of God. Do not live a holy life, don’t pray, don’t go to church, yet I will make you rich.”
The temptation was to advance by retreating, to change the world by becoming like the world.
Once more the Lord gave a swift and decisive answer from Deuteronomy. Matthew 5:10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Satan comes at us like that. He suggests success of this world sinfully. If you want happiness, let God give you happiness. Receive it on God’s terms.
- Distrust The Providential Care Of God.
- Presume On God.
- Fulfill Our Ambition Our Own Way.
Matthew 4:10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Be gone, get out of here Satan. Now he’s not defeated, he just leaves. He comes back later, again and again, and is finally defeated at the cross.
The temptation failed but the test succeeded. He is a worthy king. In the temptations it was clear He was a perfect man. He never succumbed, a King indeed.
And look what happened: Matthew 4:11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
He was an obedient Son in whom the Father was well pleased Angels came. You know they spent a lot of time with Him. They were there at His birth; all during His earthly life they protected Him. They were there at His resurrection, announcing it. They’ll be there at His second coming, and here they are taking care of Him. Listen, the angels care for Christ.
Watch Out For Temptation:
At The High Points Of Your Life.
No sooner was Christ out of the water of baptism than He was in the fire of temptation.
In The Area Of You Weakness.
We are to watch out for temptation at times when we are in evil surroundings. Jesus was in the wilderness and He was weak, and Satan came.
In The Area Of Your Strengths.
For they’re the things Satan likes to push into sin. Jesus could do everything Satan said. Jesus did not commit sin in His strength.
How To Overcome Temptation?
If you have never trust Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior, you are own your own in temptation. You don’t have any real defense. He has the answer for your temptation. So if you are not a believer of Jesus Christ, you cannot overcome temptation. But if you are child of Jesus, you can understand your temptations, who is behind it and deal with it. It is not that you will not have temptation, but you will be able to deal with temptation.
Illustration: Augustine, one of the Christian Fathers, before his conversion lived with an ill woman, and sometime after she approached him as usual. He ran away as fast as he could run from this woman of his past, and she ran after him screaming, “Why are you running away? It is I.” Augustine he answered, “I run away because I am not I anymore. I am a new man.”
Look At Jesus
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
The reason we want to look at Jesus Christ in temptation is that He has been there, and he is able to lead us out of it.
Hebrews 2:18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
So in the midst of temptation, we fix our eyes upon Jesus and he will give us the victory.
1 Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Be alert and when the opportunity comes flee.
1 Corinthians 10:14 Flee from idolatry.
1 Corinthians 6:18 Flee from sexual immorality.
1 Timothy 2:22 Flee the desires of youth.
Matthew 6:13 And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.
Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.
Study The Word Of God
Psalm 119:11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Every moment of resistance to temptation is a victory – F. W. Faber
Illustration: A man had a dog as a pet. The master used to put a bit of meat or a biscuit or some kind of food on the ground, and he’d say to the dog, ‘Don’t eat that,’ and the dog would run over and eat it; so he’d hit the dog. And he’d put another piece of meat on the ground and say, ‘Don’t eat that.’ The dog would go over and eat it, and he’d hit him again. Well, after a while, the dog got the message: eat, meat, get hit. So the dog decided he wouldn’t eat the meat.”
But the man telling the story related how that the dog never looked at the meat. The dog evidentially felt that if he looked at the meat the temptation to disobey would be too great. And so he looked steadfastly into his master’s face and never took his eyes off him, and thus the temptation never caused a problem.
Now, temptation works like that. As long as we stare at it, as long as we entertain ourselves on that we fall prey to it. Let s look into the Master’s face, he will give us victory over temptation.