Three Temptations Matt. 4 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
We know that the three temptations of man are the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life [1 Jn 2:16]. These are the three temptations that the devil used against Jesus in the wilderness in Matt 4:3-11. We are going to study these three temptations in Jesus’ life to help us understand how the devil uses these three temptations in our lives to destroy us. The devil attacks with:
Sensual Pleasure – Matt 4:3-4 – the devil appeals to the base appetites in a man. He was tempting Jesus to eat. Notice that there is an appeal to pride, as well. If you are the Son of God, prove it. We already have tendencies toward carnal desires. The flesh lusteth against the Spirit [Gal 5:17]. So, there is just a little push needed to get us to prefer these pleasures to our spiritual desires. We are easily tempted with sensual desires.
Jesus was in the wilderness during this temptation. Remember that Jesus also fed the 5,000 and the 4,000 with bread in the wilderness. The Jews wandered in the wilderness for 40 years after they had left Egypt. They ate manna [bread] in the wilderness. Likewise, Israel will be fed for three and a half years in the wilderness during the Tribulation [Rev 12:6, 14]. In other words, the devil is tempting Jesus Christ to make bread ahead of schedule; he is going to do in the future.
Young people must be particularly careful in choosing a mate because of this problem with getting ahead of God’s schedule. Paul said, “Flee youthful lusts.” A person can choose a mate for sensual pleasure and miss the provision that God has for him or her later [Phil 4:19].
Jesus could fend off this temptation partly because he wasn’t “hungry.” Matt 4:2 says, “he was afterward an hungered.” Jesus had found contentment in his fellowship with the Father while he was in the wilderness. You and I must find contentment in our fellowship with Jesus through the words of God. When we delight in the bread of life, we will never hunger and never thirst [Jn 6:35]. The bread of life will keep us satisfied and keep us from being hungry for sensual desires.
Jas 3:14-18 shows two kinds of wisdom and the wrong one is sensual. Paul was aware of the problem with the sensual appetites of the flesh. In 1 Cor 9:25-27, he kept his body in subjection. Overweight and promiscuity are very real problems for ministers. The move toward sensual pleasures in DOWN.
Jesus quoted Deut 8:3 in fending off this temptation from the devil. When you read the entire context of Deut 8, you see that God caused his Son to suffer hunger just like he caused Israel to suffer hunger to prove what was in his heart. God is emphasizing the need for us to maintain great fellowship with Jesus Christ by obeying what the Bible says so that we will hunger for the words of God and find contentment in him rather than the sensual desires of our flesh. Ps 37:4 flows directly from this book.
Scriptural Perversion – Matt 4:5-7 – the devil said, “Cast thyself down.” Why did the devil tempt Jesus to cast himself down from the pinnacle of the temple? That doesn’t make sense. In Lk 4:9-11 we see this temptation in the context of Lk 4:16-30. There we see why this temptation is so enticing. If Jesus comes flying down from the top of the temple and is miraculously caught up by unseen angels, he is going to be viewed as Superman, as a super hero. The Jews would, therefore, be inclined to believe him [Matt 27:42]. The devil uses all power and signs and lying wonders to get a following in the Tribulation [2 Thes 2:9]. He’s offering the same thing to Jesus.
The devil quoted Ps 91:11-12 to tempt Jesus. But he left some words out of the verse and added some words that weren’t there. He left out “in all thy ways” and he added “at any time.” Again, the devil is messing with the timing of the fulfillment of the these verses. Ps 91:13 shows you that the timing of their fulfillment is the second coming of Jesus when the antichrist is destroyed.
Jesus already knew that Israel was going to reject him so he wasn’t going to cast himself down from the temple to get anyone to believe him or accept him. He was content to be approved by his Father only. Jesus is coming down in the future at the second coming.
Jesus quotes Deut 6:16 to defend against this temptation. Deut 6:16 relates to Ex 17:1-7. The Jews were thirsty and they wanted to know “Is the Lord among us, or not?” Listen, the most important thing you will ever have to do is maintain your personal fellowship with Jesus Christ. You don’t need to prove to anyone by any means that you are called by God to do something for him. If he knows, that’s all that matters. Don’t concern yourself with what the world thinks.
You must be very careful about scriptural perversion. Look again at Deut 6:4-16. Everything in your relationship with the Lord relates to your dependence upon and obedience to the words of God. It is very easy to misapply scripture like the devil did to Jesus and get tripped up. You can also be misled in your prayer life by “impressions” or “a voice” that you say is from the Lord. The devil was talking to Jesus.
From Matt 4:6 we see another potential problem area. Some people find a spiritual pride associated with describing how far they were cast down by sin before they were rescued miraculously by God. It makes you look great and promotes your ministry; but it defiles those who hear it.
You must be extremely careful with the Bible. You must stay right with what it says. Perverting it is a problem of wresting scripture to your own destruction [2 Pet 3:16]. Scripture is perverted to justify sin. Therefore, modern Bibles are satanic. They are perverted scripture. The underlying sin is PRIDE. You become convinced that you are right in your application of scripture and the truth is that you are dead wrong. You will be cast DOWN.
Surrogate Power – Matt 4:8-10 – the devil said, “Fall down.” The devil is interested in your destruction but he will give you power and elevate you to destroy you. Remember that the devil is come to steal, to kill and to destroy. “What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” You cannot serve God and mammon. If you are serving wealth, you are not serving God. You are not going to impress Jesus with your wealth or how you use it. The widow who gave 2 mites impressed him. He told the rich young ruler to give his wealth to the poor; Jesus didn’t even want it. The money was getting in the way of the relationship that Jesus wanted to have with him. He was serving that money; not the Lord.
All the devil wants you to do is put another god between you and the Lord. It could be your family, your career, your education, your hobby, your talent, your wealth, or anything else. You won’t see the devil behind it. People say, “I can’t go to church because of ______.” Whatever has come between you and God is what’s keeping from his words and the preaching and teaching of his words. The words of God are not central to many of the young families in Church today. They are consumed with other things.
The third temptation was to substitute the devil’s power for God’s. As great as the ministry of Billy Graham was, he fell for this temptation. The filling of the Spirit of God was remarkably evident in Billy Graham’s life at the beginning of his ministry. But he was “puffed” by the media and became famous world-wide. As his popularity grew among men and the power of an ecumenical ministry drew bigger crowds, the work of the Spirit of God waned. It has been said that Billy Graham believed that only half of the people who came forward in his crusades were truly saved.
If we must give up on the Spirit of God to draw bigger crowds, then we are going to give up on bigger crowds. People don’t get saved like they did 30 years ago, in this age of apostasy. And we are not going to look to the devil to help us get a bigger crowd today. You don’t draw big crowds and get rich by serving God.
Conclusion: Deut 6:13-15 shows you that God is a jealous God. He said, “Ye shall not go after other gods.” Ultimately, these three temptations are an effort to get you to disobey the words of God. The devil will give you other gods to worship. He will get you to worship your belly [Matt 4:3-4; Rom 16:17-18; Phil 3:19]. He will get you to worship the world [Matt 4:5-7; 2 Tim 4:10]; he wants you to sell out for the world’s approval. Jesus only wanted God’s approval and that got him killed. He will get you to worship him [Matt 4:8-10; 2 Thes 2:3-4]. The devil tried to get Jesus to shortcut the cross and the church age so that he could get the kingdoms now. Be careful. Everything with God is about timing and obedience to the words of God. Without those two things, you can easily get messed up. Stay in the book, stay close to Jesus Christ and wait on him.