His Temptation Part 2
This is the fourth sermon in our current series, “Come and See…a study on the life of Jesus”
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In Part 1, we started looking at Jesus’ temptation in the desert. So, lets briefly review Part 1. We began by defining temptation. Temptation is pursuing and fulfilling what might be a legitimate need but doing it in an illegitimate way. For example, there’s nothing wrong with your desire to get a promotion at work, but if you get that promotion by lying and manipulation you’ve fallen into temptation.
We read Matthew 4:1-11, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall 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 and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
We walked you through His first two temptations, but we still need to cover the third. In verse 8 it says, “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.”
I can just imagine the scene. The devil is saying, “I’m not talking about service; I’m talking about worship.” And Jesus responds, “Whoever you serve, you worship…dopy”. I don’t know how the devil did this, but he was able to show Jesus all the kingdoms of the earth. And he said to him, all these things I will give You. Just worship me and You can have them.
The devil understood Psalm 2 very well because in Psalm 2 God said, “I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.” Satan is tempting Jesus to take a short cut, “What you need to do is skip the cross, skip your purpose. Worship me and you can have it all now. Don’t worry about the future.” How many of us skip our purpose, or miss our destiny, because we believe his lie? He’s saying to Jesus, “The future has too much pain. It has too much hurt. It has too much suffering. You can have it all now. Just worship me.” If Jesus had given in to this temptation, instead of redeeming the world, He would have been part of the world. There would be no salvation, no hope, no purpose. In the same way Satan says to all of us, “You can have it now, you don’t have to wait, forget about tomorrow.” So many people try to take shortcuts in life…shortcuts to financial success, shortcuts in relationships (if it feels good, do it). Shortcuts to what they see as fulfillment in life. I call them little fixes. You have a bad day, so you treat yourself to dinner out, or to new clothes, or something that makes you feel good in the moment even if you can’t afford it. People will sacrifice long term peace and contentment or life’s necessities for short term pleasures…little fixes. Satan whispers, “You can worry about the rent or saving for emergencies later.”
Even for mature believers following the will of God may feel like being in the desert during seasons of our lives. It was that way for Jesus. But it’s better for you to be in the desert without food and endless sand than to fulfill your desires illegitimately outside of the will of God. In our lives, Satan takes 5 or 10 years and makes them feel like an eternity. And then he takes eternity and tries to make it insignificant. He wants you to focus on the temporal. “Have it now – Why wait? Look at how much fun everyone is having”, he whispers, “you deserve that new…” We need to realize that it’s better to have nothing in the desert, but be in God’s will, then to be in Paradise and be outside of God’s will.
Psalm 84:10 says it best, “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” The person who choses now over eternity watches their hopes fade as their desires master them, and all the consequences of their choices come due. They have sacrificed their future because they want it now. Some of you really need to hear this truth as you read this.
You may be on the verge of making a decision that’s sinful or foolish because you think, “I have desires and I need to fulfill them now.” No, you don’t. If it’s sinful or irresponsible you don’t need it now. Jesus proves you don’t need it now. He teaches us to be faithful even in the dry seasons of life. People use their sexuality, or their genetic predisposition, or their past, to act out and sin against God. But God wants you to use those things to glorify Him, to develop spiritual discipline, to become more like Christ. For every story of hardship that people use as an excuse to choose the sinful path, I can share a harder story of someone who chose the right path.
Jeremiah 6:16 says, “This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
The good news is, you can overcome temptation. Let me share three ways.
First, through the Power of God’s Word. Do what Jesus did. I’m going to keep pounding away at this, but you need to read! And you need to study…to dig deeper. Because if you stay on the surface you will never find the treasure which lies beneath. Then, once you know the truth…live it! When we are under the authority of the Word, we can exercise the power of the Word. Jesus had the Word in His heart, and He was able to say, “Be gone for it is written.” In Luke 4:13 it says that the devil left Jesus (don’t miss this) waiting for a more opportune time. Don’t ever think that you can drop your guard. He’ll be back.
Second, through the Power of Jesus’ Resurrection. When Jesus rose from the grave, He won! All that’s left are the details. Colossians 2:15 says, “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” That’s actually what the Greek says. It says, “He disarmed them. He rendered them neutral.”
You may be thinking, “They don’t feel neutral in my life.” Satan may be free to cause a lot of trouble now, but his end is absolutely certain. We just went through Easter. Jesus has risen, He won…He crushed the enemy. Are you convinced of that today? You have to believe it, and act on it, so that you can fight back from a position of strength.
Third, through the Power of the Body (the church).
It’s easy to fall into temptation alone, but it’s really hard to get out of the circumstance alone. There are certain habits, sins, and addictions, where we need the help of others to overcome. We need the people of God to pray for us, to hold us accountable, and to help us because the warfare is intense.
One closing thought. Did Satan have the power or the right to offer Jesus the kingdoms of this world? He says, “Jesus, if You bow down and worship me, I will give you the kingdoms of this world.” No, it’s only God who has that right.
Here’s my point. When it comes to temptation, Satan exaggerates the value of what he has to give us. He comes to us and says, “If you do this or try that, I’ll fulfill your desires, I give you the longings of your heart. Sleep with that guy or girl and they will love you. It will complete you. You will feel valuable. Drink this or take that and I’ll make all of your problems fade away. The problem is, the true enjoyments or pleasures of this world are not his to offer. He tempts, traps and lies in order to kill or destroy us. It’s only God who can give us peace, joy and contentment. Only God brings true happiness. Satan’s power is a joke compared to God’s. I think we often make our God too small and our enemy too big. We give him too much credit. We give him too much authority. Yes, he is powerful, but his power is limited by the authority, the power, and the purposes of God.
1 Cor 10:13 tells us, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” Remember who you are and whose you are and stand your ground.
1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
So, Jesus himself through this lesson from his personal temptation taught us to overcome temptation by the use of: (1) God’s Word, (2) Jesus’ Resurrection, and (3) the Power of the Body (the church).