“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “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.’ ” Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “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.’ ” Again, 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.’ ” Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.”
Matthew 4:1-11 NKJV
Battle tested, God approved
One of the sad things that I have observed, with regularity, in Christian circles is the propensity to push those who have recently come to Christ to expound on their new faith. For the newcomer, this walk of faith is in its infancy, and has not been informed and tested. They are mere babes, unformed, uninformed and are more likely to speak from flesh rather than Spirit.
Aside from telling the basic story of my salvation, I said little for the first several years of my walk. During that time I was poring over the Word of God and learning more about Him. I was becoming informed.
I was also developing my trust in Jesus, as He slowly but surely brought temptations and testing into my life. It was not until I had an understanding that had been proven through the fire, that God began to define for me ministry.
Reading through Matthew chapter four, I could see the kind of testing that Jesus endured before He began His ministry. On the surface, it seemed preposterous that Satan would think that He could tempt the God of the Universe, but Jesus had humbled Himself, laying aside His glory for the fleshly form of His Creation. He endured the same temptations that plague the rest of us.
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Hebrews 4:14-16 NKJV
We know that we can endure the testing of the evil one, because we have a Great High Priest in Jesus who was and is our forerunner. Jesus having completed His testing, emerged victorious, and began His ministry, battle tested and God approved.
““The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.””
Matthew 4:15-17 NKJV
There is much for the follower of Jesus to learn from the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. With every onslaught from the devil, He responded with the word of God. His anchor was based in Scripture, not on feelings, situational ethics, or the changeable standards of the flesh. He responded with the rock solid truth of the word.
Brothers and sisters, we face testing day in and day out, as the world presses in on us. Let us be faithful to focus on the Lord and His word, falling the pattern set forth by Jesus. As I analyze the methods of the devil in Matthew four, I see the same tricks that he uses to trip up believers, even today.
“For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”
I John 2:16 NKJV
This is the playbook of the evil one, tried and true. He used it on Eve, and He will use it on you and me. Let us focus on the answers of Jesus from God’s word.
The lust of the flesh: “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.’ ””
Matthew 4:4 NKJV
The world places so many things before us, to feed our appetites. Have what you desire, YOLO. They got the YOLO part right, you only live once, but then there is the judgement. The question is, where will you spend eternity.
The lust of the eyes: “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.’ ””
Matthew 4:10 NKJV
We face this insidious temptation every day, as things, and people are placed, and place themselves at our eye gate. The evil one seeks to tempt us to have this one thing that will makes feel as if we are king of the earth. In my humility brought on by the withering of my body, I ache for the day when we will rule and reign with Jesus.
The pride of life: “Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ””
Matthew 4:7 NKJV
The trials that I have endured, have humbled me, as I have come to know that even those loved by the Lord can suffer hardship. Sometimes the struggles that He ordains have purposes behind our earthly comprehension. Even so there those who think that no bad things will happen because they are Christians. That is unbiblical, for even the disciples, the apostles of old, suffered for the glory of the Lord.
Let us be battle tested and God approved, as we go forth and take the message of the Gospel. Let us be of humble mind, not thinking more of our selves than we should.
Set you anchor in the word of God, and you will withstand any battle coming away approved by God.
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