Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. — Matthew 4:1–11 (ESV)
There Will Always Be Temptation
As a five year old child, the desire for a cookie before dinner was overwhelming. Even though it was forbidden. Especially because it was forbidden. More than once, the temptation called out to me and my dinner was ruined by a few snickerdoodles.
As I grew in to my teenage years, the temptations changed. Rather than being tempted by pre-dinner cookies, I was tempted by my parents’ alcohol cabinet. Even though it was forbidden. Especially because it was forbidden. And more than once, the temptation called out to me and my next day was ruined by the after-affects of few too many strong drinks.
Temptation is no stranger to mankind. From our youngest years, we desire things that we should not have or ought not do. Being tempted by sin or by our flesh is something that every person has to deal with. Even Jesus dealt with temptation. In Matthew 4:1–11, Jesus is tempted three times by Satan. But where you and I so often fall in to sin through our temptations, Jesus remained steadfast.
How To Overcome Temptation
So how did Jesus do it? By observing Jesus’ example in Matthew 4, I think we can learn how to overcome temptation.
- Jesus Knew The Father Intimately
In the first temptation, Jesus professes His love for the Father by declaring that God’s word is more life-giving and satisfying than the very physical thing that sustains human life — food! This is because Jesus had cultivated an intimacy with the Father through prayer and meditation on God’s Word. Intimacy with God dampens the allure and temptation of sin.
- Jesus Knew The Scriptures Intimately
When faced with all three temptations, Jesus immediately fires back at Satan by quoting Scripture. In the second temptation, Satan tried twisting Scripture to reinforce the temptation to reveal His divine nature inappropriately. Yet Jesus rebuked Satan by quoting Scripture in its proper context. Knowing God’s word intimately will be one of our best weapons in overcoming temptation.
- Jesus Sought The Father’s Will Over His Own
In His third temptation in the wilderness, Jesus rebukes Satan by reaffirming His commitment to the Fathers’ will — “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.” Jesus submitted His desires to the Fathers will and overcame His greatest temptation.
Seek intimacy with the Lord through His Word so that when temptation comes back around, you’ll be able to resist it much more easily. Just as a fencer is familiar with their foil and dangerous when wielding it, so you must be with God’s word as you seek the Father’s will in your life and fight the good fight against sin and overcome temptation.
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