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Just dropping by ... Temptation

Yevet Tenney Published on 06 February 2014

Scriptures are like a rosebud that continues to bloom. Each petal that opens reveals more beauty and depth. At first glance, the scriptures are just interesting stories, but as you re-read and ponder them, they come alive with meaning and practical applications for life.

The life of Christ is replete with depth, hidden meanings and principles that will lead to a better life. The account of Matthew of the temptations of Christ is an example of the rosebud effect of the scriptures. (Matthew 4:1-11)

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1. Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil
Christ was the example in all things. Like Christ, we all face temptation in our lives. Most Christians agree that there are seven deadly sins that all humans face: pride, greed, envy, anger, lust, gluttony, sloth.

Christ in His season of temptation faced and overcame each one of them, though they were presented in only three different temptations. Christ only had to be tempted once because His decisions were final and irrevocable.

We are not so perfect, but there are sins we can’t be tempted to commit because our decisions are so unyielding. For example, if we have made a firm decision early in life not to steal or commit adultery, we will stick with that decision our entire lives. With those kinds of decisions, there comes a point where stealing or illicit sexual relationships are no longer temptations.

2. And when he had fasted 40 days and 40 nights, he was afterward an hungered
Christ was more than a mortal man and was able to withstand much more than we can, but after 40 days, He was in a weakened and vulnerable state. He, like us, was most susceptible to sin when He was tired, hungry and weak.

Humans make the biggest mistakes when their defenses are down, when they are not thinking clearly. So it was with Christ. When Satan came to Him, Jesus could have fallen prey, but His decision overrode His appetites.

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3. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread
This temptation was designed to appeal to the bodily appetites. Anger, lust, gluttony and sloth are among those sins. If the devil could get Jesus to make the stones bread, he could lead him to a multitude of sins. Jesus would never have to work to have food to eat.

It would have been easy to be slothful and idle all of His days. He would be able to make the stones into bread any time He wanted. He would have been able to eat more than was needful and thus would be under the yoke of gluttony.

Finally, because His bodily appetites were out of control, He would have been easily led to the greater sins of fornication and moral wickedness. Anger would be an easy reaction to unfulfilled desires. Temper tantrums are symptomatic of unleashed passion and lack of self-restraint.

4. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God
Jesus’ answer is revealing to where His priorities were. Food is not the answer to life, but spiritual direction is the most important. In other words, Christ’s relationship with His Father was paramount. He had a firm conviction that God would direct His life. God would lead Him to the bread He needed.

He would have His needs met as counseled with His Father. We too, will have that assurance as we give our lives over to God and make firm unyielding decisions to follow Him no matter what the outcome. Decisions are so much easier if we know to whom we owe our allegiance.

5. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple

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6. And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone
This temptation takes in the sins of pride. If Jesus succumbed to the temptation, He would be the Messiah the Jews had been expecting. He would have shown off His great power, and everyone would have looked at Him with awe and wonder.

Everyone would have believed because of the miracle they had seen. Satan would have won the victory because Jesus would have been stopped from His mission, which was to give His life for all mankind.

The simple changing of hearts that happened to thousands of His followers would have been lost. They would have been looking for outward signs, not inward signs. The humble Christ we know would have been filled with pride and self-glory.

7. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God
The answer Jesus gave to this temptation was profound. It is a reflection of His inner commitment. In effect, He is saying, “My decision is already made.” He refers back to the scriptures and lets Satan know that He is going to do exactly what is right – no more, no less.

We too, can gain power in reading the scriptures and using them to help us make irrevocable decisions to do what is right. If we have grounded our souls in the scriptures, and know what is right and wrong, it is not as easy to be swayed.

8. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them

9. And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
This temptation, of course, appeals to the desire for wealth, fame and power. Greed and envy leap out as underlying causes for such desires.

From Satan’s perspective: “Who would not want the whole world? Who would not want to be King over everything?” He has trapped many a man with that same temptation and has ruined them: Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, Napoleon and Hitler, to name a few.

Jesus was not to be fooled with the well-woven web of Satan. He again turns to the scriptures for His answer.

10. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
He cast Satan out of His life by not giving any room to continue the conversation. Whether Satan was actually with Jesus or the conversation took place in His mind, we are not sure, and it doesn’t matter. Satan no longer had power to tempt Him.

Casting Satan out of our own minds is powerful. We cannot entertain two thoughts at one time. If we are bothered by a thought, we do not have to allow it to stay in our minds. A simple “Get thee hence, Satan” will stop any thought from taking root and leading to an action.

Many people allow their thoughts to travel without restraint from one thought to another. They do not realize that learning to control thoughts is the power behind a great life. Consider, divorces start with a single thought that is allowed to play over and over in one’s mind.

Murder, adultery and thievery, all start in the mind and are allowed to go unchecked until the thought becomes an action. Every crime or evil deed that has ever been committed began in someone’s mind.

If at the first tickle of the thought, the person had said, “Get thee hence, Satan,” the crime would never have been committed because the temptation would have died in that instant.

Gossip begins with a thought. Unrighteous judgment begins with a thought. Unkindness and hatred begins with a thought. What a wonderful world we would live in if everyone said, “Get thee hence, Satan” at the first sign of an evil thought.

11. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him
Satan left Christ and angels came to minister to Him. It is interesting how that works for us, too. Satan must go when we ask him to leave. He may come back to check the depth of our commitment, but if we keep kicking him out, he won’t have the stamina to keep coming back.

He will have to find some new way to tempt us. When we make the right decisions, angels will come to us. We won’t generally see them, but the sweet feeling of love that sweeps over us is an indication that they are not far away. PD

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