The Types of Temptations :: by Sean Gooding

Matthew 4:1-11

“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward hungered. And when the tempter came to him, he said, if thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

But he answered and said, it is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Jesus said unto him, it is written again, ‘Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.’ Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

Then saith Jesus unto him, ‘Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.’ Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.”

In last week’s article I presented the fact that all men are tempted and thus Jesus was tempted. We showed that He used the Word of God, our Bible, to defeat the devil and the devil left him for a time. We too are encouraged to ‘resist the devil’ and he will flee us, James 4:7.

Jesus assures us in Hebrews 4:16 that He was tempted in “all points” like we are and so He is a genuine source to help us when we are tempted.I have a confession to make, I sin. I don’t want to most of the time, but I still find myself sinning.

I must also confess that there are sometimes when I want to sin.I don’t know if the devil is involved in those times or if it is just my fleshly lusts and wants.What I do know is that I don’t have to sin as much as I do because Jesus has a way for me to say “NO!” and to resist.Sadly, I do not resist as I should.

In this article we will explore the three areas that Jesus was tempted.These are the same three areas of life in which we are also tempted; the same three areas of life that Eve was tempted and the only three areas of life that we are all tempted.

ALL sin falls under one of these three categories. All of our sins, yours and mine, fall into one of these areas.Maybe a clear understanding of the tempter, temptation and what it is trying to do will offer us some degree of resolve to resist.

The Lust of the Flesh, the Body, verses 1-4

Jesus had been fasting for 40 days and nights and He was hungry.This is a real and natural physical need.There is nothing sinful about being hungry; no law of God forbids it.It may be that Eve was hungry when the serpent tempted her, the Bible tell us that “she saw that it was good for food” Genesis 3:6.

We all have physical needs that need to be met and God has promised to meet them in His time and in His way via His provisions.The problem is that we are not satisfied with the way God meets our needs.In the case of Eve there was a garden of trees filled with delicious fruit that could have satisfied her hunger or at least her desire to eat.

Jesus was hungry; this is natural.Mankind gets hungry for food, sex, clothing, money and the list goes on.None of these needs are intrinsically evil, it is how we go about satisfying these needs that matter.The devil set about to tempt Jesus at his weakest point (in man’s ways of weakness); first of all he questioned Jesus’ position as God.

The devil knew who Jesus was; Jesus had made him.Yet twice in these few verses He questions His position asking, “If you are the Son of God?” trying to goad him into doing something.To obey a command by the devil is sin; even to do something as simple as change stones to bread.

The issue here was not that Jesus could change rocks into bread; rather it was who He was obeying.God has promised us to supply our needs according to His riches.Take a look at Matthew 6:25-33:

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, what shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, wherewithal shall we be clothed?

(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

The issue is not what you have; it is where did you get it from? Did your bread come from God? Did He provide it via a job or a gift?Maybe it just showed up in your home?(Some neighbor baked bread and God put it in his or her head to come and give you some.)God supplies the needs of all of His children; it is contrary to His nature to cheat His children.

Jesus answered the devil with a total demonstration of dependence upon God, “It is written man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.”He showed that while He was hungry, he would not allow his physical needs to cause him to doubt the faithfulness of God.

The New Testament church today is filled with the doctrines of riches and prosperity and one can argue that it is very possible that a lot of what is passed off as “the blessings of the Lord” is really just Man taking stuff from the devil.The devil gives good gifts too; he offered Jesus bread.

It is important to make sure that we know from where we are getting the provision for our physical needs.God’s supply is always in line with His Word.The devil always asks for us to worship him somehow, someway in the process. If we have to compromise a biblical principle to satisfy a physical need, then the supply is NOT from God.

The Pride of Life, Verses 5-8

Pride is a killer.It completely separates us from God and causes God to reject us, yes even as His children pride will always cause separation from the power and the presence of the Lord. This next temptation appealed to Jesus’ pride.

The devil loves partial quotes from the Scriptures and in this instance he uses a partial quote from Psalm 91:11-12 to tempt Jesus to test God.The full quote is from verse 9 and reads this way:

“Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; 11 for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”

Once one has humbled himself and made the Lord his refuge, and has voluntarily placed himself under the protection of God, then He cares for him in these wonderful ways.But we are not to test God and put ourselves in dangerous places simply to see if God will show up?

This is the height of arrogance; to think that we can place God in a position to be at our beck and call.Jesus refused to be a part of this.He would not call into question the protection of God nor would He knowingly or frivolously put himself in a dangerous position just to prove a point.

When we look back at the Garden temptation of Eve, we find in Genesis 3:6 that Eve thought the fruit was able to “make one wise.” This appealed to her pride.The devil planted the idea that God was short changing her and Adam in the area of wisdom and knowledge. She let her pride determine her actions rather than react with humble obedience.

She stepped out from under God’s protection rather than to apply Psalm 91:9 and make the Lord her refuge.Jesus made God the Father His refuge and so He was able to say no to this temptation.

The Lust of the Eyes, Verses 8-10

“Eve saw that the fruit was delightful to look at” (Genesis 3:6).

“David saw Bathsheba across the way and she was beautiful to look at” (2 Samuel 11:2).

We can go on and on with examples in the Bible but the temptation is the same, Satan shows us beautiful stuff and we just get mesmerized by it. In this passage Satan shows Jesus the kingdoms of the world in all their glory. He makes Jesus an offer that he hoped He could not refuse; the gift of power without the price of the cross.

This was a legitimate offer, “Satan is the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4).He assumed the headship when Adam surrendered his dominion for a piece of fruit. Satan is the also called the “prince and power of the air.” Part of the salvation that Jesus paid for on the cross is the redemption of the physical world, we are told in Romans 8: 19-22:

“For the creation eagerly waits with anticipation for God’s sons to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to futility—not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it—in the hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of corruption into the glorious freedom of God’s children. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now.”

Satan was asking Jesus to bypass the cross and go straight to the point of ruling the world as a king.This was not God’s plan.The way to be ruler of the physical kingdom had to go through the cross of Calvary. All too often Satan offers us the gain without the pain so to speak and that appeals to us.

The end of the matter looks so good and we forget that God’s goal is not the end but the journey of the transformation that we get so that we are ready to serve at the end.We cannot bypass God’s plan ever and win. It is an illusion whose reality is often the very opposite of the picture Satan showed us.

Eve had to see as her sons killed each other; the devil did not show her that.David had to devise a plan to kill Bathsheba’s husband and then God brought such grief to his home that the sight of that beautiful girl could not ever erase. For Jesus to take the devil’s offer would have meant hell for you and me.

Thankfully Jesus said no, get away Satan and we have been redeemed by the sinless spotless Lamb of God. By the way Jesus did eventually get all the bread He needed; He was protected by God right up until His death and he will rule as the King of king and Lord of Lords one day soon.

In the meantime God’s plan has been fulfilled and we are now children of God.Satan is defeated. The kingdom of darkness was dealt a death blow that Sunday when the tomb opened, and the risen Son of God walked out as the first fruit of the resurrection.I am thankful that Jesus never sinned and I am thankful that He still saves sinners of whom I am the chief.

Sean Gooding,
Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church Mississauga, ON Canada.