Kyle Testing - Matthew 4a

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“The Temptation of Jesus”
Matthew 4:1–11 CSB
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. Then the tempter approached him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” He answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. Then the devil took him to the holy city, had him stand 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 give his angels orders concerning you, and they will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. Jesus told him, “It is also written: Do not test the Lord your God. Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. And he said to him, “I will give you all these things if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus told him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him. Then the devil left him, and angels came and began to serve him.
We are all tempted to sin by our adversary, the devil. We are all tested, too, and we should remember that testing reveals character, even for Jesus. Consider James’ words to us in James 1:2-4: 2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.
In the text of Matthew 4, three different Greek words are used in reference to the devil, and four time he is called diabolos, meaning “slanderer, false accuser.” Our enemy is diabolical, as we know. He’s outrageously wicked and wants nothing good for us. We remember Jesus’ words from John 10:10, don’t we? “A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” The devil doesn’t want you to live an abundant, godly life; he wants to destroy your life, and he’ll do whatever he can to accomplish that purpose.
For Jesus – and for us – Satan used temptations of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life to lure us to sin. We fall into sin sometimes because of this, but Jesus never did.
1. Jesus did not give in to the temptation of provision (Matthew 4:1-4).
This is rather interesting that this seems to be right after, or soon after, Jesus’s baptism. After his baptism, he was led into the desert to be tempted by the devil. We would do well to remember that at times of great spiritual growth, like soon after our baptism (a spiritual high), we should not assume that all in the Christian life will be sweetness or mountaintop experiences. In fact, after such a spiritual high moment, we should anticipate that the enemy will work hard to keep God’s children discouraged, distracted, and disheartened.
We must fight the good fight of faith, knowing that our adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith. We would do well to remember Ephesians 6:12, as one of our deacons likes to often quote, which says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens.” This is why it’s so crucial to “Put on the full armor of God – so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil.” It’s vital for believers to equip themselves with faith and the truth of God’s Word, and prayer. This is how we ward off our great enemy, the devil.
Notice here, too, that Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit.This was all within the boundaries of the Father’s will. This was not an accidental wandering; this was spiritually purposeful. But Satan is always looking to usurp God’s place and oppose God’s will.
Remember, church, that God is not the agent of temptation. As James 1:13 says, “No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God,” since God is not tempted by evil, and he himself doesn’t tempt anyone.” God is not the one tempting, but God may use satanic tempting for his sovereign purposes.
Part of Gods’ special purpose in this testing is that Jesus can relate with us since we too are tried and tempted. We may succumb when faced with various trials, but not so with Jesus. As Hebrews 4:15 tells us, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin.”
That’s my Jesus.
He can sympathize with me when I am weak, because he too was weak. Yet still at his weakest, lowest, and most vulnerable moments, he did not sin. Ironically, this is when we are most likely to sin. For Jesus here, after he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was hungry… Yeah, no joke. For the record, don’t try this. You’re not Moses, and you’re definitely not the Lord Jesus…
Therapists and recovery centers have used a common acronym in their line of work called HALT. They say, “If you aren’t feeling your best, taking a moment to HALT is one of the best things you can do for your overall mental and physical health.
HALT is an acronym that stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. When one or more of these areas are out of balance, it is more likely we will struggle with health and overall well-being as a result.
Can you imagine Jesus having an episode like someone who’s hungry and angry? We call this being “hangry.” Like someone on a Snickers candy bar commercial doing something outrageous because they’re experiencing hunger, and then a friend says, “Grab a Snickers. You’re not you when you’re hungry.” Jesus doesn’t need one of his disciples ready to toss him a Snickers.
Jesus said to his disciples in John 4 that he had food they didn’t know about, and that his food was to do the will of the Father who sent him and to finish his work.
Jesus is too strong, too faithful, to do or speak or think, any sort of evil.
The devil will try to thwart God’s Son Jesus and his perfect character, but as we will see, he will fail at his attempts. This is Jesus we’re talking about – God in the flesh. One commentator says that “Jesus’s temptation was a test not so much to see if he would fail (he couldn’t!), but a “test” (much like test driving a car) to demonstrate just how powerful the Son of God was, even in the face of the devil himself.
The devil had been watching Jesus go without food. He knows what we are up to, and he directs our temptations when we are weak and vulnerable. Here, Satan questioned the provision of God because God hadn’t fed his son, and so the devil tries to tempt him into using his own divinity to spin these stones into bread. It’s as if the devil is saying, “Jesus, you know you can do anything, so please yourself.” Remember, Jesus could do this. In John 2, he changed water into wine, so he could turn a stone into bread.
The enemy is sowing doubt by trying to entice Jesus to cave into his cravings and satisfy his desires. But how does he combat the enemy here? He quotes Scripture. Remember in the Genesis 3 Garden of Eden, when Satan suggested to Adam and Eve that God was withholding good from them, so they decided to fulfill their desire apart from God’s will. And that’s when sin entered the world.
A similar happening was when God tested Israel in the wilderness, and it’s the context of Jesus’s rebuttals to Satan, because each time he rebuts Satan, he references Scripture from this wilderness experience in Deuteronomy 6-8.
In Deuteronomy 8:2-3, we read:
2 Remember that the Lord your God led you on the entire journey these forty years in the wilderness, so that he might humble you and test you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then he gave you manna to eat, which you and your ancestors had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
This was a testing of the Israelites’ hearts to see if they Israelites would trust the goodness of God to fulfill their desires according to His word and His will. Israel was by their hunger in the desert to seek ways to provide for themselves. When they found out they had no resources, they grumbled. God demonstrated their need to depend on him by providing manna. Even then, they were tempted to take care of themselves by hoarding their food. But the extra manna was always spoiled the next day, so they were always truly dependent on God and his provisions for the day.
God taught Israel to be dependent on Him, surely hoping that they would apply the same lesson to future generations, since it pertains to truth and wisdom.
Like the Israelites, we also have desires that are good and God-given – desires for food, sleep, sex, relationships, and so on. Satan works at the level of our wants and desires. He works in us where our hearts are attracted. There has to be an attraction for temptation to occur. And he knows our desires and where we may be tempted to fall because of those attractions.
You desire food, and he tempts you toward overindulgent, undisciplined eating. You desire sleep, and he tempts you to be lazy or apathetic. You desire sex, and he tempts you toward the sin of lust through adultery, pornography, or homosexuality.
At the core of all these temptations is the desire to gratify ourselves, thinking that God is not providing enough for us, and so we seek to be satisfied in other things that would gratify us other than Him.
Perhaps we think that temptation works like this: Like a little red cartoon devil on your shoulder, tempting you to sin, and whispering wickedness into your ear. But temptation is not like a cartoon, and temptation is not a joke. Temptation normally comes in fifty shades of gray, not bright red…
Our enemy longs for us to cave into temptations that are against the Father’s will for us, but what does Jesus say as He quotes Scripture? “Man must not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
What’s the truth and the application here? That Jesus would have got all of his pins and badges for his Awana vest for memorizing Scripture? … You bet! But if Jesus, who is the living Word, used the written Word to deal with the enemy of the Word, how much more do you and I need it? He gave us the Bible so that we could wield it like a sword.
First, we see that Jesus did not give into the temptation of provisions,
2. Jesus did not give in to the temptation of protection (Matthew 4:5-7).
The accuser took Jesus to Jerusalem, to the highest place – on the pinnacle of the temple. Scholars say this pinnacle platform would have been at least 300 feet, possibly 450 feet high. Falling off would have certainly led to your death. Satan says to Jesus, “Show off a little bit. Flex on us, Jesus. Show us who you really are. Jump, and your Father will catch. He’ll make sure angels gotcha back.”
This was a temptation to be “showy”, at the top of the temple, the visible place that was intended to be a visible demonstration of God’s presence and protection among his people.
Jesus wasn’t interested in showing off or taking improper advantage of his divine nature. Listen to how Philippians 2:5-8 describes the life and obedience of Jesus and where that led:
5 Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus,
6 who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. 7 Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, 8 he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross.
Satan quotes from Psalm 91, a song about God’s protection, and he tempts Jesus to prove that God will be faithful to him as His Son. But Satan quoted Ps 91:11–12 out of context, trying to convince Jesus that the Father would supernaturally protect him even if he gambled with his life.
Jesus claps back at Satan by quoting Deuteronomy 6:16 which refers to the time when Israel, angry and thirsty, questioned God’s presence until he miraculously produced a stream of water from a rock: “They tested the Lord, saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’” (Ex 17:7). Had Jesus succumbed to Satan’s temptation, it would indicate that his faith was frail and depended on God’s miraculous action. Jumping from the pinnacle of the temple would test God by attempting to force him to perform a miracle.
Satan implied that God is trustworthy only when he rescues us from suffering and danger. Jesus knew better. God is trustworthy even when he allows us or even causes us to suffer. True faith recognizes this and perseveres through hard times. When Jesus suffered on the cross (27:41–44), those who tormented him used arguments similar to that of the devil: “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”
They even quoted Psalm 22 to argue that Jesus would be rescued if God really loved him, much as Satan quoted Psalm 91 to argue that God would rescue Jesus from a deadly fall if he were really God’s Son. Again, Jesus knew better. He trusted God even through a brutal scourging, even when nails were driven through his limbs, and even when God let him suffer a horrible death.[1]
Jesus refused improper dependence. He relied on the Spirit to lead him. He relied on the Father through all of this… May this be a good reminder for us as we navigate through this life. That we need to be led by the Father, and not ourselves.
“Temptation provides us with the opportunity to validate the truth of 1 John 4:4 in our own lives: “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” There is no condemnation for those of us who are in Christ Jesus. I’ve often quoted David Platt, when he expounds on 1 Peter 5:8, which says, “Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.” “This lion-like devil can claw, scratch, bite, and intimidate – but he cannot devour you. He cannot if you are in Christ.
The devil will also like to bring up past mistakes and failures, but don’t the enemy win the war with your mind. Christian, you are not condemned because of past sins and mistakes. Jesus paid for them on the cross. He shed his perfect blood for those. If you confess them, then you have free and total forgiveness of those sins… It’s been said before that, “When the devil reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.” Christians are the ones with abundant and eternal life – not Satan or his minions.
If the Holy Spirit dwells inside of you – and He does, if you are a believer in Christ – then, according to Romans 8, there is no condemnation for those of us who are in Christ. If God is for us, who can be against us? I love the end of Romans 8 (some say it’s the greatest chapter in all the Bible, and I tend to agree with them). Listen to how the NLT translates this passage in Romans 8:33-39 (NLT):
33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God almighty is worthy of my trust and my worship. God is love, and nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ… I can’t trust myself to make wise choices. In my decision-making, I need to pray and consult God’s word. If this was the regular pattern for Jesus, don’t you think it should be for us too? To consult the Father an seek his will, not ours.
Don’t trust in yourself, trust God the Father. Is this not what Solomon taught us in Proverbs 3:5-6:
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight.
Remember that old proverb. Remember that, like Jesus, we should not seek to be tempted into provisions and protection that are outside of God’s will for our life…
3. Jesus did not give in to the temptation of power (Matthew 4:8-11).
We may wonder why this would be such a great temptation if Jesus already knew these kingdoms would be his. Jesus also knows that the road ahead leading to having such authority is filled with sorrow, suffering, and a violent death. Satan’s offer would allow him to rule the earth without going through the sacrifice of the cross. Satan offers a counterfeit better plan than God’s – a kingdom and all its glory – minus the suffering.
Satan tempted Jesus to believe that someone else could provide for him in a better way than God could. And this is always satanic appeal, whether it involves power, money, personal success.
But Jesus is not swayed by this. He tells Satan to beat it. He shows the devil who is really in charge. Jesus goes back to Scripture, interpreted it accurately, and sent Satan on his way. While Old Testament Israel had bought the lie that God had competition, Jesus did not. He would be mastered by nothing, and no one, except his Father.
We are tempted by this, are we not? To exchange the love for the Lord for the love of the enemy. Satan wants your worship. He wants you to bow to him and exchange the truth of God for a lie. He will make you nice offers to get you do that, but it’s never worth the price.
If Jesus had worshiped Satan in order to gain worldly power, it would have indicated that he valued creation more than the Creator and the kingdoms of the earth more than the kingdom of God. Jesus insisted that only God is worthy of worship.[2]Jesus is superior to us in every way.
What are you tempted to do or say or think that is sinful? Our minds are susceptible to wondering, and wanting what we should not want. I don’t know about you, but my heart is bent toward pride. I am tempted to compete with other pastors over who is more spiritual and successful. What a stupid temptation… We are tempted to cut moral corners to gain a personal advantage over someone. We are prone to hypocrisy, tempted to lie to make ourselves look better, and to call people to do what we ourselves are not willing to do.
You may be tempted to trust the news more than God’s Word. You’d never say that out loud, but the time you spend reading, listening, and following the news may be terribly imbalanced compared to the Bible and Christian literature.
When you are tempted to negatively compare your life to those around you, thinking that everybody else lives a charming life; when really, comparison steals your joy.
While scrolling social media – Facebook, Instagram, TikTok – you may find it tempting to laugh at inappropriate images or videos, you may find it tempting to view more and more videos in which people have less and less clothing on.
We are prone to value appearance over authenticity – our wants over others’ needs. Our hearts are bent to seek glory that is reserved for only God.
At the core, Jesus faced every temptation that you and I face. There are no new temptations – just new ways of giving in to old temptations.
When tempted, trust Jesus who has been tempted just like we have been, and stands ready to help you be victorious over your temptation.[3]Run to him in prayer. He is an ever-present help in times of distress… Let’s pray…
[1] Robert H. Stein, “Differences in the Gospels,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1503–1504. [2]Robert H. Stein, “Differences in the Gospels,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1504. [3]Stuart K. Weber, Matthew, vol. 1 of Holman New Testament Commentary(Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 47.
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