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by Duane Huffstutler
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Matthew 4:1-11

After Jesus was baptized he made up his mind to follow the direction of the Holy Spirit fully without any reservations. He spoke only what he heard from the Father and went only where the Holy Spirit directed him to go. This particular time he was directed to a place of seclusion where he would be alone to talk with the Father, just as Adam and Eve were before they were tested then he would be able to go through the testing without any interruptions.

As the last Adam, Jesus had to go through just what the first Adam went through. The stage was set because without Jesus going through what Adam did the testing could be considered invalid for Christ being the replacement for Adam.

Prior to the testing, Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness without interruption. He was able to spend these days doing anything he chose to do. He could have spent them sitting out there wondering what in the world he was doing out there. He could have spent them whining about being out there all alone. He could have spent them crying about having nothing to eat and the Father not taking care of him the way he should have. But instead he chose to talk with the Father and build strength for what ever was ahead of him. He put down the flesh not only through fasting and prayer but also in his determination to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. The fasting weakens the flesh and helps bring the flesh under subjection to the Spirit. The prayer and communing with God strengthens the spirit and brings us closer to God so we can hear form God and have the strength to keep the flesh under subjection. Prayer and studying the word of God helps us with our determination to keep the flesh down. During fasting the flesh becomes susceptible to stronger influences, both good and bad, that is why it is so important to pray and study Godís word so that the spirit of God will be the influence that it becomes influenced by. But we have to make a choice as to whom we are going to allow to control our flesh the spirit of God or Satan. During his testing Jesus followed the leading of the Holy Spirit instead of trying to control the spirit and tell the spirit what he wanted to do, like we do so often. Then from that point on he only did what the Holy Spirit told him to do and went only where the Holy Spirit told him to go, and said only what the Holy Spirit told him to say and nothing else. Living this way there is nothing that can be used against you, God will be responsible for everything, but only if you do and say only what he tells you to. Then when evil forces come against you there will be no question as to who is going to win. If we use Christ as our example and do exactly as he did we cannot loose.

Letís look at Jesusí time in the wilderness a little closer. During Jesus time in the wilderness he spent 40 days without food, he would have had to have water or his physical body would have been dehydrated and without a miracle or Godís intervention in the matter he would have died in a very short time. His body was weak due to hunger and his flesh wanted something to eat. He had probably been there without any shelter except a tree or two. His physical, fleshly needs had been neglected during this time as another way to put the flesh down. Satan and his evil forces will always play on your weakness. So the first thing that Satan hit Jesus with was his physical needs. He told Jesus to just go ahead and make himself something to eat. This was to correspond to the test that Adam fell with. He was to see if Jesus was going to respond by the flesh like Adam did or stand by the spirit.

Satan started out; if you are the Son of God turn these stones into bread. Satan knew exactly who he was dealing with, they were in heaven together before Lucifer was cast out and he had heard at the baptism God call Jesus His /son. But Satan was trying to implant a little doubt in Jesusí mind because for the last 40 days he had been neglected by the Father, no food, no shelter, no physical friends, no one to talk to. If Satan could get Jesus to think about this and doubt the Father he would have a little edge in the testing. This way he could probably get Jesus to act in the flesh and turn the stones into bread just to prove who he was. Satan also knew that as the Son of God there was nothing impossible for Jesus. Jesus could have very easily turned the stones into bread; but the motive for doing it was going to be the problem. If Jesus had turned the stones into bread he would have been working in the flesh instead of doing what the Father wanted done. When you work in the flesh it is usually done in pride or selfishness and both of these are sin. One thing that we always need to remember is that anything that is done for the flesh even if it is a good thing that is done for the wrong reason is wrong. Let me explain that just a little bit. When anything is done in and for the flesh it is to focus on self and to lift up self. When you do something in and for the Spirit it is to lift up the Spirit, others, and to Please God. We are here to be servants of the most high God thus doing what he says, when he says to do it, without question, which is the hardest part not to question Godís plan.

When Christ determined in his heart to live by what God said the battle was mostly over. All he had to do was to keep his flesh out of the picture. Jesus used the word of God to defeat Satan and we can use it also. It is just as powerful for us as it was for Jesus. Satan canít argue with the word of God, but when you use it you had better know it and believe it. If you donít believe it, it becomes just another book with a bunch of words, for the power to come forth you must trust every word with everything inside of you. Satan knows the word of God, so if you quote it, you better quote it word for word or else read it directly form the Bible because Satan will twist it just enough so that it sounds right while it will still be untrue. So if you do not know it he will try to get you confused as to what it is actually saying. Satan tried with Eve and he tried with Jesus himself. Eve did not have a good understanding of it and got confused which caused her to give into the temptation. Adam knew the word of God, but he refused to use it and the authority that he had been given and that is the basis of the fall of man. Jesus is the word of God and knows the power of the word. Jesus stood on the word and used it to defeat Satan and his demons.

When Satan couldnít get through to Jesus with food and physical needs he took him to the pinnacle of the temple, which was between 90 and 125 feet high. This was a point that was looked at often in amazement. People were attracted by itís beauty. At that point he made his first attempt to kill Jesus. Take a look at it Satan told Jesus to jump off and the angels would catch him. Satan quoted that form Psalms 91:11-12. Here there were many people around and if Jesus had jumped he would be trying to prove the divine intervention while following the flesh. If the angel would have caught him then the crowds would have made hi king because of divine intervention and not because he was Jesus Christ the Son of God. If because he had acted in the flesh, there was no divine intervention he would have hit the ground and died. This would have been suicide which would have made Satan a winner because Jesus would have followed the flesh and his pride would have rose to the top. But again Jesus decided to stick with the Holy Spirit and use the word of God again to defeat Satan. Jesus told Satan that we are not to tempt the Lord our God this is a quote from Deuteronomy 6:16. This was not telling Satan not to tempt him, but Jesus informing us that we are not to put ourselves into situations where we put God on the spot to fulfill our fleshly desires. Because God is not going to step out just so you can fulfill the lust of the flesh. This again was to decide if Jesus was going to put the flesh under subjection and follow the Holy Spirit or not. Jesus again followed the Holy Spirit.

In the third test Satan took Jesus up on a high mountain, this was in Satanís domain ďthe prince of the airĒ and showed him the entire world. Satan told Jesus that if he would do just one little thing he would lay the dominion and authority of the entire world in his hands and walk away. It would then all belong to Jesus and he would not even have to die to get it. There was just one little catch and no one would ever have to know. It would be just between the two of them. They were on the top of the mountain, secluded; no one else could see them. All he would have to do is to bow down and worship Satan, just one time. Then he could have everything and it would all be over.

I have heard this preached that this was just a trick, that Satan did not have dominion over the world that he could give away. But to understand this you have to go back to Genesis and Adam and Eve. The bottom line is that if Satan wanted to give it all to Jesus he every right to do so. If Satan was telling the truth (which he is unable to do) and Jesus had bowed down and worshipped him, Jesus would not have had to die to repossess the world. But then you have to look at what it would have cost Jesus to do this. Jesus, I donít believe even considered the offer, but I know he would have counted the full cost had he considered it. When we are tested we must count the full cost of giving into the test. This is where we fail most of the time. We see an opportunity for a break in the battle and go for it, not understanding what it is going to cost us to take the break. Just for the sake of argument, what would have it cost Jesus to obtain the entire world and not have to die for it? It would have cost him everything. Satan would have gotten what he was after from the very beginningÖGod to bow down and worship him. But he would settle for the Son of God to bow down to him. The flesh probably tried to rise up and wanted to take over at that point because the flesh does not want to die. The flesh wants to live forever and it wants to be in control. But as long as Christ kept his flesh under control there was no way he could loose this battle. There again Christ used the word of God to defeat Satan. One thing that we must always remember is that the Word of God has always defeated Satan in the past, and the word of God will always defeat Satan in the future.

Most people think that there is no way that Jesus Christ could have given in to Satan during the temptations. But we have to remember in order for the temptations to be real Christ had to go through them just as we would 100 percent man filled with the Holy Spirit. He was given the opportunity to spent time with God before the temptation just as we are, but most of the time we donít listen to the warning and get ready. Jesus used the time the way we should use it, to strengthen his spirit and draw closer to God. If we would use the time to strengthen our spirit and draw closer to God we would not have as many problems during the trials. But instead we choose either not to listen and just go on about our pressing business, or turn on the TV to some very important morally depressing program that is just going to tear us down. Or we may choose to go to our favorite fishing hole so that we donít have to think about what is about to happen. If we will turn off the TV and pullout the word of God and truly study not just read over it. Then spend time in fasting and prayer we will be able to keep the flesh under subjection and the flesh will not be able to rise up and give us trouble. Then when we are tested we will be able to pass with flying colors.

When you study this testing of Jesus, each test he went through was a debate as to if the flesh was going to rule or if the spirit was going to rule. Allowing the flesh to rise up is what causes us to fail, but as long as the spirit rules there is no way that you will fail.

The question now becomes are you going to listen to the Spirit and be ready for what ever test you have to go through and keep the flesh under your feet or are you going to listen to the flesh and satisfy the here and now? When you satisfy the here and now everything in the future is going to pull you down. You must stay prepared. If we stay constantly prepared then it will never be about us, there will never be a problem come up that we will not be able to handle. There will be problems that we may have to dig deeper to solve but we will have the confidence to handle them quickly. Then we will have more time to help our Brothers and Sisters in Christ out of their problems, as our attention becomes more and more for others.

So who are you going to listen to the Flesh or the Spirit? The choice is yours. The flesh will fail you, but the Spirit wins every time.

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