Well as we come to The Living Word of God today, we find Jesus preparing to enter his Earthly Ministry that last week. We saw Jesus being baptized by John and then the Holy Spirit descending on him in the form of a dove and a voice from Heaven God speaking came to say this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.
The text we are looking at today is most often used at the beginning of the Lenten season. The season of Lent though is still a few weeks away, but I would like us to take a look at this passage today without all the trappings of Lent so that we can really focus on these Temptations. Often times when we use this right before Lent starts, We just talked about the Linton season in that 40 days Of preparation and fasting and and trusting in God, but I really want to look at these Temptations and see what lessons we can learn from them to help us to grow in our faith.
To grow stronger and further in the process of sanctification. So let's set the stage for this. Jesus has just been baptized just been proclaimed about God and an audible voice from Heaven to be the Son of God. Now remember this Proclamation did not make him the Son of God nor did it make him the Christ. He was already those things. This was instead the heavenly father making this truth known to the people around him as well. It is time for Jesus to enter his Earthly Ministry. But before he goes about this, very intensive and difficult Ministry, which will eventually lead him to the cross of Calvary. Jesus has one more important stop to make in his preparations.
Our text tells us that Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit Into the Wilderness for the purpose of being tempted by the devil know every time I read that I don't man. I really would rather the Holy Spirit lead me out of areas of possible Temptations lead me out of those situations, but instead the Holy Spirit leads him right into the path of the devil who will bring temptation his way. You would say that the Holy Spirit would be wanting to keep him away keeping pure not let anything come against him.
But, this idea of Temptation may be needed here. And so what does it mean to be tempted originally written in an ancient form of Greek known as koine Greek, which was the common language of the Eastern Mediterranean from the conquest of Alexander the Great so 335 to 323 BC until the rise of Byzantine Greek around 600 AD. So the Greek word translated tempted here in our text can mean either tempt as in someone tempting you or it can mean testing so think about that for a minute.
So what's the difference? Well a temptation is an enticement to get a person to go contrary to God's will as Satan will try to do a Jesus. We're familiar with temptation. We understand temptation.
It's always a temptation to go somewhere that we are not meant to go to do something that we are not meant to do. To make one choice over another in the choice that seemed right to us is the very one that God said no,
I have a different path for you. So that's Temptation now. It's trying to get wrong, correct, but a test tries to get people to prove themselves faithful to God's will with the good intention that they passed the test and grow in your relationship with God. James 1:13 says let no one say when he is tempted. I am being tempted by God for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one scriptures clear that God never temps anyone to do evil.
God does you circumstances in our lives to test our character to test our resolve with the intended purpose of helping us to rely on God for strength to pass the test and that's in our ability to live victoriously for him in a sense Temptations kind of the the flip side of the coin to testing its kind of it's in the same area or two, very different and distinct purposes now.
Satan intends to get Jesus to go contrary to the father's will but in the middle of those circumstances the father uses Satan's evil intention to a good purpose of strengthening Jesus for his role as Messiah the savior of the world.
For the ministry that he's heading into this is now we see this in the stories of Abraham and the whole incident was Isaac that was a test going on there to strengthen him to strengthen his resolve. Or how about Job devil did everything to tempt him to curse God but he held on you did. What was right strengthen or even Joseph? Remember Joseph he finally says he was Brothers what it is some meat awful things to me sold him into slavery and when it all is said is said and done. He says you intended this thing for evil, but God intended it for good because he persevered.
He lived through it. He lived through the evil thing Through The Temptations that were thrown at him. He passed the test live for God became a great leader and a savior to his people and to the known world as his dad his time that they might live through famine for a Christian any Temptation Of The Devil can be turned into a test has simply by trusting in and relying on God for the strength to overcome Temptation instead of allowing Temptation to lead us into sin. God can use the bad thing that the devil intends for our good if we trust him enough
1st Corinthians, 10:13 says The Temptations in your life are no different from what others experience you ever think that they are. Maybe you're dealing with something right now that you're tempted to go the wrong way or to go the another way than God would have you go you think man, no one else is going through this kind of stuff.
Well, I think that's the devil. Just trying to make you think that well, it's just you, you know, I always love it when someone says am I crazy but because that usually means they're really mean you say no, you're not crazy that happens to me too.
There's no temptation that we deal with in this life that are coming to all people that's just part of being human and it goes on to say and God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand now. Let's talk about that for a minute. Okay.
Think about this somebody say what was too much Temptation. I can't stand it.
But if your trusting in Him? If you're leaning on him, if you're going with him in the power of the Holy Spirit, he can give you the power to overcome Temptation. It goes on. It says when you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. Now what does that mean? It doesn't mean that he's going to go. Okay, here's the Temptation. Let me pick you up and move you over here. So you're out of the way. It always shows you the way and then you
As a moral being as someone who has been infused with the spirit of God as a believer in Jesus Christ have the responsibility and the power you need to walk out of that Temptation in the victory.
Or you can succomb, if you so choose and fall right back into the place that God doesn't want you to be a Temptation in the hands of Satan becomes a cast in the hands of God. Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that Temptation cannot be powerful in our lives. I am well aware that there are addictions that there are really compulsions in people's lives that are very very difficult to overcome.
Let me tell you something. I know because I have experienced it that even when the Temptation is so strong when the addiction is so strong that God can lead you through to the other side. I'm not saying it won't be difficult.
You know nothing that's really really worth it in this life is truly all that easy to be truthful.
I'm not saying it will be easy.
It won't be. How's that? you like that? No, you want me to say it'll be all fine. Everything is wild flowers and cherries and it's a good day.
Temptation is real. We also through Jesus Christ in the power of the spirit and overcome temtation, but it's not based on our strength.
Let me be clear.
Often times we tried overcome Temptation. We try to overcome addiction. We try to overcome compulsions in our life by Our Own Strength by our own power in our own way in our own time folks. That's a recipe for disaster.
It really is. It's a recipe for disaster. We overcome not in our own strength, but in the strength of God, if we have put our trust in ourselves our own goodness our own willpower to overcome Temptation. We will fail just about every time
But if we continually put our trust in God it is his power in us that gives us the strength to overcome. Even the most difficult impatience of Our Lives His strength in US.
Becomes our strength as he works through us not of ourselves of him 1st. John 4:4 says this but you belong to God my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people because the spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. When I was growing up in church. We used to sing a song Greater is he that is in me than he who is in the world we sing it over and over and over again. I don't think it had 11 were you know, but it's just so great because it was so true.
Greater is he who is in you what they're talkin about?
That's talking about the spirit of God living and working in you.
You know that if you accepted Jesus Christ as your lord and savior the holy spirit moves in.
And the devil is not nearly as powerful as God. Oh, he's tricky. Oh, he works hard to tear us down. But God is far more powerful than he has. The Temptations are testing. Jesus was going through was for the purpose of strengthening his human side in order that he would be strong enough to allow God the fathers will to go on that would allow him to go through all the ridicule that allow him to have people in his own Hometown try to throw him off a cliff but go on through them and get back to work to allow him to face his accusers and even allow him to go all the way to the cross.
He first had to be strengthened. Remember we often understand Jesus and his divinity is God the second person of the Trinity, but we must understand that when he walked this Earth. He was fully God and fully man, which meant he was absolutely fully human just as you and I are and so Temptation for him was real. It's not that is Divinity took over and said go away.
It's that the Holy Spirit working in that Humanity of his gave him the strength to go on to fight the enemy and fulfill. His father's will. Let's talk about this enemy for a minute the gospels employs several terms refer to the devil in this text alone. There is three the devil and vs15 the temperature in verse 3 and Satan and verse 10.
Matthew uses the terms interchangeably so that you know, it's the same one all along. What is more significant is in the narrative is the role that the devil or Satan plays the term tempter points to someone who seduces another arrest a man in your life that tries to seduce you to do something, you know isn't within the will of God.
Well, the Bible says that we are not fighting against flesh and blood that person. We are fighting against principalities and Powers. We're fighting against the evil forces in this world were fighting against the devil and his angels the demons so the temptor at work and you can use others to tempt you, but it's still him at work.
It's still him at work. Why do you think when Peter said? Oh Lord don't even think about it. You're not going to die for us. Jesus turned him and said get away from me Satan.
He wasn't saying Peter was Satan he was saying that the devil's using you right now Peter. Don't allow him to do it. You see.
He seduces us the meaning of Satan in the Hebrew means the Accuser.
Cuz he accuses us of all those sins that God has already forgiven us of. He accuses us of being less than what God wants for us to be it also has the meaning of slander.
Just trying to make us feel less than what God has made us to be. The temptor wants to entice Jesus not to be faithful by miraculously providing for his own needs instead of following the will of the father 1st. Peter. 5:8 says be self-controlled and alert your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion lion looking for someone to devour
You ever seen video of a lion on the prowl for a meal.
That's the picture here the devil coming in coming into your house coming into your car coming into your workplace coming at you when you're walking down the street and just trying to devour your soul.
He can't do it all at once.
So it's bite by bite.
I know you've heard how you eat an elephant, right?
One bite at a time.
That's the way the devil Works in our lives and our spiritual selves one bite at a time. The devil is out to cause you to fall into sin causing us to turn away from the will of God for our lives and to a life centered on ourselves and our own desires in our text today. Satan tries to foyil God's plan for Humanity's Redemption by disqualifying Jesus as the sinless Savior savior in obedience son.
So let's take just a couple minutes to look at these Temptations themselves. The first Temptation found in Verses 3 and 4. It says the tempter came to him and said if you are the Son of God tell these Stones become bread Jesus answered it is written man Shall not live by bread alone. But by every word that comes from the mouth of god notice this temptation comes with an accusation. Remember, he's also the accuser in fact, all three Temptations come with the accusation.
The form of a question if you are the Son of God, this is the same tactic the devil has always used even going all the way back to the beginning of time the first recorded Temptation come from the same kind of place Genesis 3:3 now the serpent another name for the devil here was more crafty than any of the wild animals. The Lord God had made. He said to the woman did God really say You must not eat from any tree in the garden.
No God didn't say that. He said just the two yours is to there one. You got to leave alone. Just leave that tree alone. That's what God Said the devil just like
I think you were here in things.
Did God really say that what you trying to do confused his mind. That's what he's trying to do.
If you really are the Son of God, it's kind of like the boy that comes up you when you're a kid in school. Well, if you're really that tough, let's get going here right there trying to make you doubt yourself. They're trying to make you feel less there trying to make you get all mad and defend yourself. Right? And in this case the defense would be for Jesus is go. Okay rock bread. But what do you think of that? Satan has said very good. Thanks.
Because the will of the father at that time was for Jesus to fast not to eat and so the devil was just trying to get Jesus to go against this simple thing. Now, Is it wrong to care for yourself? Is it wrong for Jesus turn stones into bread. Well, we know he has the power to do it don't we we know that cuz later on he performs a miracle in order to feed a whole bunch of people in one when one of the gospels does he fit 5,000 people plus women and children another one that God said he said 4000 + women and children. I think these are a couple different events then maybe
But Jesus was there to fast. He was also there to have The Human Experience of going about the normal way of getting food.
Nothing wrong with food.
But it wasn't in the father's will for him at that moment often times. The devil does not use things that are at the root sinful to tempt us to move beyond the will of God for our lives. He simply will put several good choices before us that might sound better than what God has for us at the time. Let me tell you something. I don't like going for hours without eating. I can't imagine going 40 days without eating.
That's just the truth. I'm hungry about every 10 minutes. So, you know.
40 days would kill me.
The devil said turn these stones into bread and say what kind?
The truth is if I had that power that were already been all kinds of bread around me. He wouldn't have even say it.
A little weak when it comes to food if you have figured that out.
It's a matter of the will of God. It's not the breads bad, but my doctor says it is for me. It's not that so many other things in our life or bad.
It's just that sometimes all of the good choices. There's only one that is in the will of God for us.
And so when we choose one of the others then we're outside of his will.
Jesus responds to this by quoting Deuteronomy when he says man shall not live on bread alone. But on every word that comes from the mouth of God. Jesus was feasting on that attaboy moments.
At his baptism. That's what he was feasting on.
The word the said you are my son and you bring me great joy, I am well pleased in you he was feasting on the word of God. Jesus uses scripture to combat the devil and every one of these instances. This is a lesson for life that helps each of us to grow in our faith and stand up against temptations.
By knowing the word of God the word of God contains the answer to life and gives guidance for living a life that pleases him. We need to know the word. We need to feast on the words to it when we come to times of greatest temptation.
We will be able to stand.
We tell you the reason of that verse greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world means so much to me. It's cuz there were many times after the Lord first got a hold of me that I would be tempted to go back down that road that almost killed me.
And that verse would come back to mine and I would start singing that song that I was taught in church greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world.
That's the word of God spoke into my life and it became a source of strength for me.
What are the second Temptation for a minute. This is seems crazy to me some verses 5 and 6 does then the devil took him to a to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. If you are the Son of God, he said throw yourself down for it is written. He will command his angels concerning you and they will lift you up in their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
Look at that. The devil knows the scripture too. He just twist it for his own good he twisted for what he wants. You don't have to search today. There are pastors and teachers in church members who know the word of God as well as any of us and maybe better than some and they use the word of God to twist stuff in the going away that is outside of the realm of possibilities of the will of God. They Twisted they use it in a wrong way. That's not a new trick. That's the devil in them doing that.
The devil is there is picking up the devil's tactic.
There wolves in clergy clothing.
I'm not talking about any y'all, so don't get upset here.
Got to be careful picking on United message win Star National Organization for United Methodist. Women is a disaster zone of heresy. The group we have in our church is a solid solid group of women who believe in Jesus Christ. It's a good thing that the churches are holding the word of God, even if the national organizations aren't.
The devil knows how to twist.
Jesus says it also says do not put the Lord your God to the test the devil urgent Jesus throwing self down from that high place. So that is loving father will send angels to rescue him. Not really. He he tempts them to jump down just to prove his power and just how much he's loved by the father. This is a temptation of the will. This is a temptation of Pride. This is the temptation of saying daddy's not going to let me be hurt.
Later in Matthew just prior to the arrest and crucifixion.
Jesus states that if he wanted he could call on his father to rescue him by sending more than 12 Legions of angels He was capable but he didn't fall. So when the scripture isn't used correctly you ought to know because you have been in the word that's how you know.
I told some folks in Bible study the other night that I listen to the most heretical homily which is like a short sermon I had ever heard in my entire life and that man quoted scripture like crazy. He just quoted it all wrong out of context and then Twisted its meaning
We need to know the word.
You know what? We do not need to put the Lord Our God to the test. It's not that he's not up to the test. It's just simply that we are trying to manipulate God into doing what we want him to do.
We are often looking for God to do the big miraculous things in our lives to prove himself to us when in truth we simply need to look at the everyday ways God provides for us protects us and guides us into his perfect. Will the sea. It work.
His promise that he will never leave us nor. Will he forsake we do not need to put him to the test. We simply need to trust him to keep the promises. He is already made. This is the essence of biblical Faith taking God at his word and being obedient to it without needing other confirmation.
The devil would have us always looking for God to do something big and when something big doesn't happen, then we might begin to doubt cuz that's all he's trying for any way. But the truth is the more we trust him the more his work in our lives becomes evidence.
Quickly here. I want to look at the third Temptation verses 8 to 10 says again the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their Splendor all this I will give you he said if you will Bow Down and Worship me and Jesus said to him away from me Satan for it is written Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.
There are all kinds of stories about people making deals with the devil to get a shortcut to Greatness in effect. That is what this temptation is. The devil shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world offers them to him for the small price of bowing down and worshiping the devil God. That's why he fell the truth of the matter is all the kingdoms of the world already belong to Jesus, but there are no shortcuts.
He first must go through all that is before him. He must pay the price on the cross.
And then Jesus will reign supreme the devil offers a shortcut. Jesus can bypass all the pain and suffering of the Cross and get right to the goal. Sounds good, right? That's why the lottery such a big winner.
the big loser for 99.9999 9% of the people
But it promises a shortcut the wealth instead of getting your butt to work.
Poorest people in our country spend the most money on the lottery.
Why because it's a shortcut but they don't realize is every dollar they spend on that nonsense has a dollar they could have spent on something. That would have helped him a whole lot more.
Most Temptations involve the twisting of reality everything good in this world comes from God. James 1:17 reminds us that every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of Lights. With whom there is no variation or shadow of turning the very nature of Temptation is that it can be subtly construed to be a good Not a Bad Thing by perverting a good thing that God has created. A good example. This can be found in the intimate relationship between a man and a woman. God ordains that specific type of intimacy to only be in the bonds of marriage between one man and one woman.
But in our world that relationship is often turned on its head the temptation to engage in Intimate acts outside of marriage turns a good thing into a destructive thing turns a beautiful thing into something ugly and dirty. Therefore one of the most important consideration when addressing two patients is understand the proper purpose for anything. That is good.
Said another way what does God want for us? What is his perfect? Will that is what we should be considering instead.
Of what we think might be good for us. What is the perfect will of God is what we must ask with every action. We take every every relationship we have and every material thing, but we need not fall into temptation 1st Corinthians. 10:13 tells us the Temptations in your life or no different from what others experience and God is faithful. He will not allow temptation to be more than you can stand because he's going to give you a way out.
Boy, memorize those versus will you they're important. The truth is all of us have a variety of temptations that can Sidetrack us a difficult Temptation for one person may not even face. Another person. A Temptation does not have to be something inherently evil. But rather a good thing being used for evil purposes.
The very nature of Temptation is that it can be subtly construed to be a good thing Not a Bad Thing by perverting a good thing. So what we all need to remember is that being tempted is not the sin. We all have temptations. We all have struggles.
Yielding to temptation is when it becomes a sin.
James 1 14 to 15 says Temptation comes from our own desires which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions and When sin is allowed to grow it gives birth to death.
When Jesus had victory over the Temptations or text says the devil left him the devil will turn away if we simply trust in God. James 4:7 says submit yourselves therefore to God resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Don't you want him to flee from you? He ought to be afraid of us. That is a promise that comes from God the devil will flee. We need not fall into temptation instead like Jesus we have to trust in our heavenly father remembering all of his teachings and promises that are in contained in his holy word. If we do, we will live the Victorious Life God has for all of us who have committed ourselves to him and we will find ourselves right in the center of God's holy will for our lives.