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Entries in Temptation (5)


Facing the Schemes of the Devil

If you have become a child of God then you will need to learn to deal with temptation and to conquer it.  I don’t say this in a legalistic sense but, as the Bible shows us, we have an enemy who is working to try and either destroy our faith or neutralize it.  Let’s take some time looking at the temptation of Jesus by the devil in Matthew 4:1-11.

There Are Different Kinds Of Temptations

Three different attempts are made to tempt Jesus in this passage and they are very different.  We need to realize that Satan has a whole toolbox of tricks that he uses to trip up believers and unbelievers.  In Ephesians 6:11 the Bible says:

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (NKJV).

“Wiles” comes from the same root that we get the word “method.”  Thus our enemy has methods, strategies, and operations by which he tries to trap us.

Temptation #1, Jesus is tempted to please his flesh above the spiritual.  There is nothing wrong with eating bread.  However, Jesus had been “led” into the wilderness by the Spirit of God.  He was preparing himself for the coming ministry through prayer, fasting, and facing temptation.  Food was not a priority on this mission, but being in concert with the Father was.  The enemy loves to get us to focus on any desire of our flesh above the higher spiritual things of God.  But the stomach of Jesus is not the only target.  Satan target’s the pride of Jesus when he says, “If you are the son of God…”  This trick of the devil manipulates us to prove ourselves.  Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 8 that man lives by every word from God’s mouth, not just bread.   When you look into the context of that verse you realize that Moses was telling Israel that God took them through the wilderness and allowed them to thirst and hunger, so that they might look past the bread and seek him.  It was a test.  Thus Jesus doesn’t just throw a bible verse at the devil, rather, he shows that he knows the heart of this temptation.  Good things can get between us and God.

Temptation #2, Jesus is tempted to use God’s Word for selfish gain.  In this temptation the devil takes Jesus to the highest point in the Temple and tries to get him to jump.  The reasoning is that the Bible promises that God will keep the messiah from dashing his foot against a stone.  God will be forced to supernaturally protect Jesus in front of the multitudes at the temple.  Thus Jesus will be accepted.  God’s Word is not given for us to twist to our own ends, or to manipulate God into accomplishing our desires.  This presumes upon the goodness of God.  God will not be played a fool.  Thus Jesus quotes a verse that says you shall not tempt the Lord your God.  How is this tempting God?  You are tempting God to quit giving you his goodness and to judge you.  We can do this today by using the amazing grace of Jesus as a license to sin.  God has promised to forgive us our sins.  Thus I can sin as much as I want and just ask forgiveness after the fact.  In Romans 6 Paul says, “God forbid.”  This kind of attitude is spiritually dangerous and tempts God to judge us.  It is important to note here that the devil can quote scripture.  It is always twisted and perverted out of its context but he makes it look good.  The Bible says that the devil transforms himself into an angel of light.  That means he comes looking as if he is God’s messenger to you.  He carries a bible and quotes scripture.  He may even have a church where he preaches every Sunday.  We need to verify for ourselves that any “teaching” from another really does line up with all the word of God.  Jesus doesn’t argue Satan’s verses.  Instead he points out that there are other Scriptures.  He quotes from Exodus 17 where Moses is reminding them of an incident where they were accusing Moses and God of bringing them into the desert to kill them.  God sent poisonous serpents into the assembly as a judgment to their accusatory demands.  They were in effect rejecting God’s way through the wilderness.  Was Jesus going to reject God’s way, which involved death on a cross, or would he try to force another way?

Temptation #3, Jesus is tempted to idolatry.  Satan doesn’t quote any scripture this time nor does he employ any subtlety either.  This temptation simply comes as a brute force attack.  Following God won’t work.  Just worship me and you will get it all in a far easier way.  Will you stick with God and receive what he has for you or will you worship another to get something “better?”  Many sell their souls to the devil for the fame and wealth of this world.  But it is always far less than it looks and it never satisfies.  Jesus saw through this blatant charade and reminds Satan that man should worship God alone.

God’s Children Will Face These Temptations And More

Whether Satan is subtle or not his temptations are always strong and must be resisted.  Several lessons can be learned as we look at this passage and meditate on it.  First, a battle always comes on the heels of times when we know that God has spoken.  In chapter 3 Jesus had just been baptized as the Holy Spirit descended upon him and the Father spoke from heaven, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.”  Yet, immediately the Spirit takes him into the wilderness where the tempter tries to bring him down.

Another lesson is that we need to face temptation privately in our hearts before we can truly conquer it in public.  We should never settle for merely looking like we have avoided temptation.  God will not settle for appearance only.  But on a different note, why live such a life that would not be filled with joy?  Often we need to get alone in prayer and the word and break down the lies of the enemy.  Perhaps we need some mature, godly counsel.  But don’t settle.  Lastly, the devil uses temptation to neutralize our ability to do anything for God.  God’s way makes us useful for others, but his way fixates us on ourselves.  You may be able to find some other lessons upon further study.

Satan uses temptation to try and destroy or at least neutralize our faith.  But, he also uses temptation to keep those who don’t know God trapped in the chains of sin.  Let’s be aware of the methods of the enemy and combat them in our life.  Let’s also be wise in how we approach the lost.  May God help us to demolish the lies of the enemy in their life through love and truth.

Facing the Schemes Audio

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