The Bible teaches that Jesus was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). So, let’s take a look at Jesus’s response to Satan’s temptation in order to learn from the Master how to defeat temptation once and for all.
The clue in this passage, I think, is NOT in following the steps that the Lord took, but in understanding his convictions about who He is and how he sees his Heavenly Father. It is his attitude towards temptation that makes him the ultimate conqueror of it. As with everything in Christianity, overcoming temptation is a matter of the heart.
The Bible tells us in Matthew 4: 1-11 that after 40 days of fasting in the desert, Satan tried to tempt Jesus through his physical needs, saying: “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 by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’”
It is always interesting to me that Jesus never answered his opponents in the way they expected. He is not interested in proving Satan that He is indeed the Son of God. Instead he makes him clear what kind of relationship he has with His Father.
Jesus answered with a passage found in Deuteronomy 8:3 in which God explains to the people of Israel why he had put them in the desert and why he allowed them to suffer for 40 years:
“And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord”. This passage clearly teaches that our lives don’t depend only on physical things like food, but also on God’s words. All that he says gives us life. We are to depend on Him as our ultimate sustainer.
Based on this passage referred to by the Lord, Jesus’s answer could be paraphrased like this: “I don’t have anything to prove. Physical needs won’t define my behavior. I know that is God who sustains me”
Was Jesus human? Yes, he was. Was he hungry? He was more than hungry; he was starving! Could he have done this? Of course, but he showed Satan his dependence in God. There was nothing to prove, God His Father would sustain him no matter what. He really trusted in God!
Now Satan will look for pride within Jesus: “If 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.’”
Jesus said to him,“It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”
Now Jesus refers to a passage in Deuteronomy 6:16 in which the Israelites are commanded not to tempt God. We find the story to which this refers in Exodus 17:1-7: The people of Israel are in the desert and they can’t find water to drink. They come to Moses and ask him for water, then accuse him of have brought them to this place to kill them, their children and stock from thirst. The last complaint of the Israelites tells us who they were truly blaming, they finally ask Moses: “Is the Lord among us or not?”
So they want proof from God that He is there. After all that the Lord had done for them, so many wonders, so many miracles; all of his care and provision, they challenge him: are you with us or not? Prove it!
From this passage we can infer how sinful it is to doubt God’s power or intentions towards us. He is faithful, He is powerful, He loves us, and we can trust Him.
Unlike the Israelites, Jesus refuses to doubt his Father. We could paraphrase the answer of Jesus in this way: “God has nothing to prove to me, I know that I am His Son!” So, he doesn’t ask for proof, he doesn’t require a miracle from God in order to stand firm in what he knows.
Satan then tries to entice him with riches and power: the devil took Him up on an exceedingly 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 will fall down and worship me.”
Then Jesus said to him,“Away with you,Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”
Jesus goes to another passage in Deuteronomy 6:13 in which the Lord explains to his people how they will enter to possess a land with big cities that they didn’t built; with houses full of good things that they didn’t fill; wells they didn’t dig and vineyards and olive trees they did not plant. “Be aware!” The Lord tells them, “and don’t forget who gave you all of these things” “You shall fear the Lord your God and serve Him”.
Since God is our Creator, our Sustainer, our Provider, he is most worthy of our praise and loyalty. All we have at present He has given to us!
So, Jesus had a very clear understanding of who was worthy of his praise and loyalty: God and no one else. “Here I stand, loyal to my Lord”, Jesus would say.
The question for us is: are we cultivating in ourselves the same spiritual convictions that Jesus had?
Let’s have clear idea of what kind of relationship we have with our Heavenly Father: “I don’t have anything to prove to anybody. I know that it is God who sustains my life”
Let’s always trust in Him, knowing that he’s always seeking our welfare. Let’s refuse to tempt our Father: “God has nothing to prove to me, I know who I am in Him! 1 Peter 2:9 tells you who you are in Him: “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”
Let’s have a clear understanding of who is the only one who deserves our praise and loyalty: “I know who my Lord is, I stand loyal to him always”
If we are to win this battle against temptation and overcome sin in our lives, we have to get a hold of these truths:
We need to stay away from temptation from the very beginning and get closer to God by spending time in prayer and the Scriptures.
Strive to be transformed into the image of our Master; He who was tempted in all points as we are but was without sin.
See yourself through the eyes of the Lord your God: you are his chosen people; you are more than a conqueror through Him who gives you strength. Yes! You can overcome temptation!
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