When Satan Strikes (Matthew 4:1-11)
Matthew 4:1, “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.”
A "Bonehead of the Day" e-mail reported on an innovative toy recently released for distribution: A U.S. company has an action figure called Invisible Jim that is selling rapidly in Britain for about $2.80. Why is it called Invisible Jim? Because all you get is the packaging. There is no Jim. "Lack of dashing eyes" and "realistic fake hair," "as not seen on TV," and "camouflage suit sold separately" are some of the features listed on the package. The company says they have received no complaints about the empty boxes. A spokeswoman for the distributor says that when the first shipment arrived, they thought there was some mistake at the factory—that they sent the packaging without the product. Good marketing, good packaging, empty box. Sounds a lot like temptation and sin. Temptation always comes in an attractive package with empty promises.
As soon as our Lord was baptized and began His public ministry, He was tempted of the devil. While He was in the field of carpentry chipping away at wood, the devil was undisturbed. But as soon as He began to lay the axe to the root of Satan’s kingdom, our Lord was tempted by the devil. The very first thing that is recorded concerning our Lord’s public ministry is His temptation. Here is a fact of life, from which there is no escape in this world. If you are a child of God, if the Spirit of God is in you, you will be tempted of the devil.
Satan tempted our Lord to three things.
1. Satan tempted Jesus to an act of unbelief, to distrust God (Matthew 4:3-4).
2. Satan tempted Jesus to an act of suicide (Matthew 4:5-8).
3. Satan tempted Jesus to an act of idolatry (Matthew 4:8-10).
Satan is a real adversary to our souls. The Word of God tells us that that the devil is real, an adversary with whom we must do battle continually. The beast of hell sought an assault to the very throne of God, or the Son of God! From Matthew 4:1-11, in eleven verses we are told three times that Satan attacked the Lord Jesus Christ. “No matter how many pleasures Satan offers you, his ultimate intention is to ruin you. Your destruction is his highest priority ” - Erwin W. Lutzer. His goal is the everlasting destruction of souls. He continually seeks whom he may devour. For nearly 6000 years he has been trying to destroy and draw into hell as many as he can.
Three times Satan tempted our Lord with great offers that convincingly appeal to the nature of mankind. But three times our Lord foiled Satan’s temptations by quoting the Scriptures. Three times (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10) Jesus met Satan's "if" head-on. Our strategy to escape the temptations of Satan, is for us to bury ourselves in the Word of God. The Bible is the final authority and is unchanging. Jesus used the Scriptures as an effective weapon against temptation. Satan tried to misuse God’s Word in order to tempt Jesus to sin. At times, people who oppose God will also misuse the Bible in an attempt to persuade believers to do something they know is wrong or unwise. Some will often take a verse out of context to support a sinful lifestyle. This why it is important for Christians to know God’s Word thoroughly and beware of those who try to misuse Scripture to support their own opinions or satisfy their own selfish desires.
Satan’s first temptation took advantage of His physical hunger for food. During the forty-day fast, through prayer and meditation on God’s Word, Jesus was strengthening and preparing Himself for the work His Father had sent Him to do. Fasting gives up a physical craving to fulfill a greater spiritual need. It involves a switching of priorities. Fasting prioritizes prayer and fellowship with God to feed the spirit instead of the stomach. A person's life is not just physical, but a spiritual side requires God's truth in order to fully live. As our Lord Jesus was tempted, so we shall be. The devil mercilessly tempted the Son of man to eat during a time of prolonged fasting, but he could not successfully lure Him to convert stones into bread.
The devil even sought to justify the temptations from Scripture and talked freely about angels, about God, and about grace. This is proof that Satan will use any and every means to prevent the Lord from fulfilling His purpose in your life. The devil knows the Bible, and he uses it. If he can’t convince you to act independently of God, he’ll work through your weaknesses. The devil tempted Jesus to jump from the temple, the problem was that doing so ignored God’s plan. Satan urged Jesus to fulfill God’s will for His life in a way that would bypass the cross. We are never to use disobedience to back God into a corner in order to force him to fulfill his plan. You have no obligation to the devil (James 4:7). Too often, God’s people attempt to worship and serve God on their terms. If Jesus is their Lord, He would be the ultimate authority in their life, including worship.
Satan wants your worship; he wants you to bow to him. It is inconceivable for us who are Christ’s to be worshipping at the devil’s feet. Yet Satan tempts the Lord’s church to bow herself before him rather than preaching and proclaiming the Gospel. Satan stands no chance when it comes to the believer who constantly confronts the devil with the Word of God. The Lord Jesus Christ is just the Saviour that tempted people need! May we run to Him for help and lay our troubles before Him. You will always find that His ear is ready to hear, His heart is ready to feel, and His hand is ready to help. He understands our sorrows, temptations, and troubles!
PRAYER: Father, I ask you in the name and through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ to bind and rebuke Satan and to put a hedge of protection around me and each one in my family. In Jesus name, AMEN!
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Dr. Blackman is passionate about helping others grow in the grace of the Lord. His devotions are centered on how to grow closer to the Lord through a personal relationship with Christ.