The Temptation of Jesus

Read Matthew 4:1-11

In today’s reading Matthew shares insight and wisdom from the life of Christ that will help us overcome the temptations we will inevitably face. Christ had just been baptized and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where He was to be tested. Bibleref.com explains, that “it was God’s intention that Jesus should endure this time of testing.” [For a full explanation of 4:1 visit https://www.bibleref.com/Matthew/4/Matthew-4-1.html. ] However, the focus of today’s passage for me became verse 4, which follows Satan’s pointed temptation to Jesus, who had been fasting, to turn stones into loaves of bread (4:3). While Jesus, no doubt, could have easily met this temptation He instead answers Satan, directly, with a firm “No!” He then uses Scripture to confirm His choice.

During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Matthew 4:3-4 (NLT)

Actually, every other time I have ever read or heard this Scripture taught my mind has been drawn to the use of God’s Word to combat the temptations, and rightfully so. We should always be ready with Scripture when we meet temptations – after all God’s Word is our primary weapon against sin which is why David answered his own question in Psalm 119, “How can a young man keep His way pure?” with these words, “By obeying God’s Word.” He goes on to explain how he does that, “I seek You (God) with all of my heart, do not let me stray from your commandments. I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.” Temptation is clearly combatted with God’s Word. However, it is equally clear to me today that it is good and right to be direct and firm with the ‘tempter’ and say “no”! What a great example of handling our temptations, “But Jesus told him, ‘No!'”.

How can a young man keep his way pure?

By keeping your word.

10 I have sought you with all my heart;

don’t let me wander from your commands.

11 I have treasured your word in my heart

so that I may not sin against you.

Psalm 119:9-11 (CSB)

Jesus’ example makes me think of the campaign, “Just Say No!”, used in the “War on Drugs during the 80’s and 90’s to discourage children from using illegal drugs. Perhaps, as children of God, we should make this our campaign against temptations this year – “Say No to Satan!”. We are only 10 days in to the new year, yet it is already clear to me that there will be, as with every other year, daily temptations. Perhaps we will be tempted to mimic the behavior of the world (Romans 12:2), or to fear (Isaiah 41:10), or complain (Phil 2:14-16), or become angry (Eph 4:26, James 1:20) and unforgiving (Col 3:13), or to use our words to tear down instead of build up (Eph 4:29), the list of temptations are endless (the combatting Scriptures are equally endless) … but regardless of how or when the temptation comes may our answer be, like Jesus’, a firm and resolved NO! Let’s “Say NO to Satan!” and watch him flee in 2022.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

James 4:7 (ESV)

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