A stained glass window of Jesus

How do we respond to temptation? How Jesus got it right when we often get it wrong

In the four Gospels we see various events in Jesus’ life. We can learn from how the perfect man, the God-man, lived. He listened; he talked; he ate with certain people; affirmed certain people; and challenged and criticized certain people.

He was also tempted by Satan.

Jesus was empowered and guided by the Spirit during his ministry. The Spirit led him to be tempted, directly by Satan, as part of his Messianic life. (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-1-13)

Jesus’ temptation by Satan shows how to defeat temptation. Others tried to do things differently and got it wrong.

Jesus and 40 days

Jesus did things right that others had done wrong.

As soon as the number 40 is mentioned as part of the temptation account our minds move to at least one other 40. The 40 years of wandering in the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land.

The people got that 40 wrong. The disobeyed God at many points. Moses reminded them that it normally took 11 days for their 40-year journey. (Deuteronomy 1:2; 9:7)

Another 40 (days) was Elijah’s immobilizing depression after his God-empowered victory over the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel. (1 Kings 19:8)

Jesus did not follow Satan’s lies nor was he immobilized after the empowering start of his ministry at his baptism.

How are we tempted

We think of the Devil (and his demons), the world, and our flesh as the sources of temptation but how do they attack us.

I think the best summary is in John’s first letter: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. (1 John 2:16)

Adam and Eve and Satan

When we look at how Satan tempted the first humans, Adam and Eve, we see these three attacks:

the lust of the flesh- tree was good for food

the lust of the eyes- it was pleasant to the eyes

the pride of life- desired to make one wise

Jesus and Satan

We also see these three points of attack when Satan tempted Jesus

the lust of the flesh- stone to bread

the lust of the eyes- showed Him all the kingdoms

the pride of life- throw Yourself down

Scripture and temptation

Jesus responded to Satan by quoting Scripture. (Deuteronomy 6:16; 8:3; 6:13; Psalm 91:11; 91:12) He refuted the false claims by presenting God’s truth.

When we are tempted, we are presented with a choice to believe the lie or assert the truth. This assertion is often a quiet, interior remembering of God’s perspective on the issue we are facing. When we read and reflect on God’s written word each day we are better prepared to face temptation.

Many preachers and teachers have observed that sins come from misbelief about God. We think he can’t see us. We think he does not care. We think it is unimportant. It just isn’t that big a deal.

However, when we are focused on God as he really is and see sin as it really is. we do not want to disobey our Creator, Savior and Lord who loves us even knowing all about us. We do not want to sin. We want to defeat temptation.

Jesus’ temptation by Satan shows how to defeat temptation. Others tried to do things differently and got it wrong.

Questions for consideration:

Which of these three points of attack is the most difficult attack for you to resist?

How have you seen all three points of attack in your life?

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