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The temptations of Jesus

In the article “Eve in Genesis” we looked at the sad example of Eve and her response to the devil’s temptation. In this article we will look at the opposite in response example, the example of our Lord Jesus Christ and how He responded to temptation, which will also teach us how we too should respond to it. So starting from Matthew 4:1-3 we read:

Matthew 4:1-3
"Then was Jesus led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward he was hungry. Now when the tempter came to him, he said, "If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread."

Before we say anything else, how do you think that the devil spoke to Jesus Christ here? For many years, because of religious influence, I tended to think that a dark-skin being with two horns was speaking here. But where does the Bible describes the devil like this? Nowhere. According to the Bible, the devil is a spirit being, a fallen angel, that has no material substance. How therefore did the devil speak, tempting Jesus here? The answer is obvious: by revelation. And if he managed to do that with Jesus, he can surely do that with the others of us too. Therefore, it is not enough that something comes from the spiritual ground. It must also come from the right source of the spiritual ground. Something that comes from God is always in 100% alignment with the Bible, the Word of God, and even amid persecution carries the blessing and peace of God.

Returning to our example, see that the pattern the devil followed in the temptations of Jesus is the same as the pattern he followed with Eve in Genesis, when he tempted her. He again tried to challenge what God said and which was that Jesus is the Son of God (Matthew 3:17). Did the devil not know that Jesus was the Son of God? Surely he knew it. But the focus of his temptation was to make Jesus doubt his true identity. How did Jesus answer to the devil? Verse 4 tells us:

Matthew 4:4
"But he answered and said, IT IS WRITTEN man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God"

To face the temptation Jesus knew that what he needed was the Word of God. Look how sharp He was: His first words were "it is written.." and He quoted the passage of the Bible that was relative to the temptation. That's how He defeated the devil and his temptation and that's how you and I can also defeat him.

The devil having failed in the first temptation continued to a second one. The pattern was the same:

Matthew 4:5-6
"Then the devil took him up into the holy city, 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 shall give his angels charge over you": and "in their hands they shall bear you up, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone."

As the above passage makes clear, the devil can also use the Bible. However, he misuses it. He distorts it deceitfully and intentionally, making wrong interpretations of the Word of God. So what he quoted was indeed from the Bible, from Psalms 91:11-12. But then he deceitfully interpreted this as it would still apply if Jesus went ahead and, tempting God to see whether He would save him, jumped off the pinnacle of the temple. Of course tempting God was not in the scope of the promise of Psalms 91:11-12! Jesus’ reaction was again very sharp:

Matthew 4:7
"Jesus said to him, "It is written again you shall not tempt the Lord your God"

See the straight and direct response of Jesus to the temptation. No wavering. No “let’s think… uh.. oh… I believe… perhaps…”. Instead He knew exactly what the Word said, interpret it correctly and triumphed over the devil’s temptations second time as he would also do in the next and final temptation:

Matthew 4:8-9
"Again the devil took him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; And he said to him, all these things I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me"

Here the devil plays his last card. He would supposedly give Jesus everything if He would “just” worship him. But again his temptation failed terribly, and here is why:

Matthew 4:10
"Then Jesus said to him, Away with you, Satan: for IT IS WRITTEN "You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve."

Many people say "Away with you Satan" when they feel his pressure, presence and temptation. But Jesus Christ did not stop there. He also added: "IT IS WRITTEN.......", stating accurately what the Word of God said about the subject of temptation. The result of His tactic is given in verse 11:

Matthew 4:11
"Then the devil left him"

Do you think that the devil would have left Jesus if he hadn't faced him the way he did? I don’t think so. As James 4:7 says, the only way to get rid of the devil is to resist him:

James 4:7
"Resist the devil and he will flee from you".

Jesus’ example tells us that to resist the devil and his temptations you must know accurately and apply with consistency the Word of God. Eve did not do that. The results are well-known. You and I must determine what are we going to do? Shall we rightly divide the Word of God independently of doctrines of men and denominational views or we will follow man-made traditions? As far as God is concerned there is only one right choice: "Study to show yourself approved to God a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15).

Anastasios Kioulachoglou