Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
In Matthew 4.1-11, Jesus faced temptations from Satan in his continuing attempt to prove himself greater than God. In these verses, Jesus gives us an example to follow when we face our own temptations.
If you are the Son of God
Satan began by attacking Jesus’ identity. Satan knew who Jesus was and of course Jesus knew who He was. Satan’s statement, “If you are …” begged the question, “Are you really the Son of God?” and taunted Jesus to prove He was. Jesus knew His identity. He was completely confident in who He was and the love He shared with the Father. Try as he might, Satan was never going to cause Jesus to question His identity.
Our identity is our single most valuable asset. If we believe we are loved, valued, and cherished, we are likely to experience and achieve much in our lives. On the other hand, if we believe we are unlovable, always to blame, and unworthy, we will likely be exploited, used, and discarded when there is nothing more that can be taken from us.
We become more vulnerable to Satan’s attacks on our identity when we don’t know our full identity in Christ. The most important voice to listen to in our lives and especially in relation to our identity is God’s. Here are just a few of the many truths God tells us about who we are.
- We are intentionally formed and beautifully made (Ps. 139.13-14)
- We were bought at a great price and belong to God (1 Cor. 6.19-20)
- We are free from condemnation and nothing can separate us from God’s love (Rom 8.31-39)
- God’s Holy Spirit resides in each of us (2 Cor. 3.16)
- We are citizens of heaven (Phil 3.20)
- We were chosen by God, redeemed through Jesus, and forgiven of our sins (Eph. 1.3-8)
For it is written
Each time Satan tempted Jesus, Jesus refuted the enticements with scripture. It’s interesting to note that once Jesus responded with the truth of scripture, Satan made no more attempts along that particular line of reasoning. Even Satan knew the truth when he was confronted with it.
Satan himself quoted scripture to Jesus, taunting Jesus to prove its accuracy. Satan quoted scripture accurately. But the promises of scripture are not magic phrases that can be cast around at will. We must exercise the utmost care and respect when using scripture, the sacred word of God.
The truths of scripture can refute every lie we face. Click To TweetBut many of us face never taken the time to memorize scripture verses in advance so that when we face temptations, the verses are readily available for us to express.
Many of us have difficulty memorizing scripture or have become convinced that we simply cannot memorize scripture. For a very small percentage of people, this is true. But for the majority of us, it is likely we are believing another of Satan’s lies to keep us from accessing the power and authority God gives us through Jesus. How do I know? Which of the Christmas carols can you sing without looking at the words? How many movie lines you can recite? Are there phone numbers you don’t need to look up in order to make a call? We memorize bits of information all the time and have the capability of memorizing scripture if we will be intentional about doing so.
All this I will give you
Satan’s final temptation was to offer Jesus all the kingdoms of the world along with their glory if Jesus would just fall down and worship Satan. It was big promise. On a human level it would have perhaps been tempting, but all things were created through Jesus (Eph. 3.9). He is the ruler over the kings of the earth (Rev 1.5). To Him belongs the entire universe. Satan’s gift or reward for Jesus bowing before him was far less than what Jesus already possessed.
Ultimately, that is the crux of the problem with Satan’s promises. He talks big and always fails to fully deliver on those promises. The allure of sexual immorality often promises great fulfillment and satisfaction and just as often ends in broken marriages, alienated children and deep regret. Small lies and compromises to please the boss and gain favor can escalate until legal lines have been crossed, charges are filed, and prison time is served. The momentary high of recreational drugs frequently leads to needing more powerful stimulants that result in addiction and many times even death.
Satan’s efforts focus on enticing us away from the unconditional love and grace of the Father. He uses temptations filled with empty promises to draws us away from the deeply satisfying and fulfilling promises of God that never fail. As we gain awareness of Satan’s tactics and begin to recognize them more readily, we are in an ever-greater position to rebuke his efforts. God’s love for us is never ending. He does not use trickery to gain our devotion. We will enjoy the satisfying and meaningful lives only in the Father’s love.
What are some of the temptations you have faced and how have you combated them? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear.