Stories with Luke Week 3:
"Temptation of Christ"
Pastor Terry Inman
Today’s story is Jesus’ in a face off with Satan in the wilderness. As His ministry begins, His metal is tested, with three common temptations.
The bible calls them the “lust of the flesh”, (gratification) the “lust of the eyes” (greed) and the pride of life. (ambition) (1John 2.16)
Satan persuaded Adam and Eve that the forbidden fruit was “good to eat”, “pleasant to the eyes” and desired to “make one wise” like God. (Gen. 3.6 NIV) Today they may look more like food, sex, thrills, clothes, money, pleasure, entertainment, recognition praise and power.
Jesus endured real temptation but he overcame it. He demonstrated for us how to triumph in temptation and testing. “We do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet he did not sin.” (Heb. 4.15 NIV)
Last week Jesus ministry began with his baptism in the Jordon River by his forerunner cousin John. Three things happened. Heaven opened. The Holy Spirit descended, and the Father affirmed His son, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
It may not be as dramatic but we can expect the same results.
Our obedience gives us new assurance. Heaven opens to us. There is no longer any barriers between our heavenly Father and us. His Holy Spirit comes to live in us and He is very proud to call us His children.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! (1 John 3.1 NIV)
Luke says, Jesus left the Jordon “full” of the Holy Spirit and was guided by the Holy Spirit into the desert for forty days of fasting and testing.
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. (Luke 4.1-2 NIV)
There are several 40’s in the scriptures. Noah was 40 days and nights navigating the flood. Israel’s exodus from Egypt was 40 years in the desert. Several years ago I traveled by bus from Jerusalem to Cairo, Egypt. It’s a no mans land. Moses was 40 days on the mountain without bread or water. He was given the commandments on stone tablets.
The word “tempted” (GR: peirazo) is often translated testing, trying or proving. God tested Israel. They failed the tests and delayed their desert wandering. God allowed Satan to tempt Jesus and He passed his tests—
all the more reason for the Father to be pleased with His son!
There are different kinds of tests. Satan temps people. He entices them to do evil. God does not temp us nor can he be temped. Sometimes we are temped by our broken or weak nature.
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (James 1.13-15 NIV)
We can’t blame Satan for everything. We are seduced by our own desires.
When we take the bait, we get hooked, we get caught---then we’re fried!
Luke says, Jesus was fasting in wilderness and after 40 days became hungry. He was physically hungry, but spiritually “full” of the Spirit.
One of the helpful tools for addiction recovery is the acronym HALT. It is being aware of when we are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.
Hunger can be an unmet physical or emotional need. Some of us attempt to feed our emotional hunger and that leads to other disorders.
Anger is normal. But we have to learn to be aware of it and deal with it constructively. The bible says “be angry and sin not, don’t let the sun go down on your anger” We have to first get in touch with what and why we are angry and then express it in healthy and healing ways. Prayer goes a long ways to helping us deal with anger. Tell God what your angry about.
You don’t have to be alone to experience loneliness. We can feel very isolated and alone in a crowd. We must take responsibility for our own needs and avoid isolation and withdrawal. He has a friend who makes a friend. Reach out and connect to healthy people.
Tiredness takes a toll on our bodies, mind, and spirit. Satisfying the physical need to sleep, rest, and rejuvenate is critical to keeping healthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Ask, “Am I hungry, angry, lonely, or tired?” Honestly assessing how you feel takes only a minute. When our basic needs are not met we are vulnerable to temptation. That’s why the scriptures says, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Gal.5.16)
Jesus was in the wilderness hungry, alone, tired maybe even angry but he was full of the Spirit and walked through the desert led of the Spirit. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Gal.5.25 NIV)
Fasting cleanses our bodies of toxins. It also exposes darkness. Satan started talking after Jesus’ 40 days of fasting. He attempted to manipulate Jesus need for nourishment.
The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’’”(Luke 4.3-4 NIV)
Israel’s tests in the desert were food related. God fed them with manna. They complained about the menu so he gave them meat. Jesus also fed over 5000 hungry people and they wanted him to be their burger king!
Satan was trying to get Jesus to perform a miracle to meet his own need. I can imagine that the stones were looking a lot like scones. Jesus let him know our greatest need is to feed on the word of God!
Matthew records Jesus quotation of Deut. 8.3, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’’ Matt. 4.4)
Bread is not an evil hunger it is a necessity of life. When Job was going through one of the greatest tests any human has faced he said,
“I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.”
(Job 23.12 NIV) Fasting helps us refocus on spiritual necessities!
The best way to overcome the temptation to indulge our flesh in something harmful is to stay full of God’s word. David said, I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (Psa 119.11 NIV)
Jesus resisted Satan’s attempt to get him to misuse his power by tapping into the Spirit and the Word! He has given us the same tools. Be aware of your unmet hungers and let God satisfy you with his Spirit and His Word.
The first temptation was a manipulation of physical needs. The second one focused on emotional or psychological needs. We all want power.
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.” Luke 4.5-7
This was probably some kind of dream where he caught an instant glimpse of the world’s kingdoms. Satan claims the kingdoms are his to give. Really he is only a “prince of this world that will be driven out.” (John 12.31)
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was his eviction notice. He’s illegally parked for now. This is a temptation to skip the suffering of the cross for an immediate crown. This would have aborted our salvation.
Again Jesus answers with scripture. “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’’ (Luke 4.8 NIV)
Someone said, there is no gain without pain. Satan offers shortcuts but they are usually dead ends. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
Had Jesus accepted the devil’s offer, our salvation would have been impossible. Jesus would have sinned by giving worship to the devil.
He could not have offered himself a perfect sacrifice for our sins.
Scripture teaches that the Messiah should first suffer and only then “enter his glory” (Luke 24:26). The devil tried to prevent Christ’s voluntary death for our sins. Accepting an immediate earthy kingdom would avoid the Cross and leave all humanity with out a savior!
We are often temped to escape suffering or compromise values in order to gain some advantage or temporal benefit. When we want something apart from God’s will we make that thing or that person our God. We are here to worship and serve him only! He has already given us his Kingdom!
The last test was a taunt to prove is identity as the Son of God with a sensational miracle. This time Satan quotes scripture in Psalms 91.
The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written: “He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’’ (Luke 4.9-11)
The Jews believed the Messiah would make a grand appearance on the Temple. Testing God would be a presumptive sin. Israel put God to the test in the wilderness but Jesus refused this kind of melodrama.
This request for a sign would actually be an act of unbelief, masquerading as extraordinary faith. For the third time Jesus quotes the scriptures. Jesus answered, “It says: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’’ (Luke 4.12 NIV)
Sometimes we want God to do something supernatural to prove His existence, identity, or alleviate our suffering. Everyone likes a superstar so if we can get God to perform we feel like we are on the winning team!
God does what he does for his reasons. He is a loving God but he is not manipulated to perform at our whims and wishes. He is God. He doesn’t work for us we work for him! He always has our best interests in mind.
Satan is not very original these temptations are common to man—pleasure, possessions, power, and pride. John writes, “Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father.
(1 John 2.16 NIV)
Here’s Luke’s last word on this desert encounter, “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.”
(Luke 4.13 NIV)
Satan failed to prevent Jesus mission at the beginning.
He would try again at the end. He is a sore looser!
So how do we overcome temptation? The bible says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.Come near to God and he will come near to you.” (James 4.6-7 NIV)
We can’t resist Satan and sin on our own. If we submit to God, we won’t surrender to Satan. He will flee from us and God’s Spirit will free us!
So let’s HALT beware of when we are hungry, angry, lonely and tired. Invite His Spirit who is in us—to lead us. Jesus told us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matt. 6.13)