Temptation in the Wilderness

The fourth chapter of Matthew starts out with Jesus’s temptation. I’m sure it’s familiar to you, so I won’t recap it. Here are the main points I see in this passage.

– Sometimes the wilderness is God’s idea. This time it definitely was. It clearly says the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness. But just like in this situation, there is always a good reason for the trip. This particular time it was necessary to secure our salvation. Other times (like with the Israelites), it’s to ‘break off’ things we don’t need or can’t have if we’re going to enter our Promised Land. It can be to change our mindset before we face something we’re not prepared for yet. Whatever the reason, if God takes you there, it’s for your good and His glory. You can always trust Him.

– Jesus fasted. So it’s probably a good idea. Fasting is a great way to hear God more clearly. Choosing to do without food or possibly something else you’re used to consuming regularly, creates a ‘hunger’ that grabs your attention throughout each day. And every time it does, you have to choose whether or not you’re going to surrender that appetite to God and whether you want to know God and His will for you MORE than you want to satisfy your appetite.

– Satan tempts us by getting us to doubt God’s love for us.

—- 1) One of the main ways is by trying to get us to meet our unmet needs in ways that are outside God’s will. I can just hear him now: “But, Jesus! You must be starving! You haven’t eaten in 40 days! You don’t really think God wants you to suffer like this, do you? Just do what you do and fix your problem.”

—- 2) Another way is by getting us to doubt and/or misuse our position in God. “If you ARE God’s daughter/God’s son, just go ahead and do this crazy thing you know you want to do. He’s not going to let anything bad happen to you! He’s your all-powerful Heavenly Daddy. He can clean up any mess you make.”

—- 3) And Satan’s ultimate goal is to capture our praise. He wants us to worship him. His goal hasn’t changed since he was kicked out of Heaven. And he’ll promise you the world . . . or whatever little piece of it he knows you want really bad. And if you’re really following after God, he’ll promise you the piece of the world that God has set as your purpose here on earth–your destiny. But Satan’s way is a shortcut. Or so he says. It’s really a trap that’s extremely costly. The cost is your heart.

– Satan uses God’s word (which he knows very well) — with just a little twist — to try and trap you. Remember in the Garden of Eden when he asked Eve, “Did God really say . . . .” He knew exactly what God said, but he wants us to doubt what we heard. If he can just plant a little seed of doubt, he knows it will grow.

– Speaking God’s word aloud is one of the best ways to escape Satan’s traps and to fight temptation. This means we have to spend time in the word so we know what it says and can recognize Satan’s distortion of it. And we have to know what it says so we can use appropriate verses that speak to our most common temptations.

– If you put up a good WORD fight, Satan will eventually leave you alone — at least for a while. Satan came back and tempted Jesus again. And he’ll come back for you, too. But you can be prepared and you can successfully fight him again.

– One of the jobs of angels is to minister to people on earth. Angels are God’s messengers and He’s still using them today.

 

Application Questions:

– When did you last spend time in the wilderness? Did God lead you there or were you there because of your own choices? What purpose did your time there fulfill? What did you learn? About God? About you?

– When did you last fast for spiritual purposes? What did you hear from God?

– How does Satan tempt you to get your needs met outside God’s will? How often is he successful?

– When has Satan tempted you to do something crazy and expect God to rescue you? What was the outcome?

– What shortcut has Satan offered you? What has he promised you?

– When has Satan tried to get you to doubt what God has said to you?

– When have you spoken God’s word aloud to fight temptation? What verses did you use?

– What do you need to do to be prepared for your next battle with Satan?

– When do you think you may have “entertained angels unaware” (Hebrews 13:2)?

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Matthew 4:1-11 / NIV

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him 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.’”

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

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.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

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