Last week I spent an enjoyable morning reading about Jesus temptation as is found in Matthew 4. The Spirit brought new truths to mind as He opened my eyes to see this familiar passage in a new light.
If you know the passage (I just can’t call it a story. It’s not a story, it’s truth), you know that after Jesus was baptized God the Father descended on Him like a dove. God spoke His Words of Truth over the Word and the Truth. Jesus was then led by the Spirit into the wilderness where He first fasted for 40 days and nights, then the tempter came to Him and tempted Him.
I don’t know how it works in your life, but in my life it works just like this. I will have time of God’s revealing His pleasure of me and I’m hearing His voice speak loud and clear to my soul. Immediately afterward I’ll have a sense that I’m going without something, that I’m fasting only not intentionally. Then the tempter comes in and seeks to remove and destroy all evidence of God’s pleasure.
I’ll start to doubt I heard God’s voice at all. Or that He’ll keep His word to me. Or that I heard right. I’ll be tempted, sorely tempted to doubt.
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone but on every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'” Matthew 4:4 (nasb)
When I’m being tempted if I respond with anything other than the Truth of God’s Word, I battle on my own and I will not win. If I slap truths on the temptation and rely on my own strength to muscle through the temptation. I will lose the battle every time. It’s guaranteed.
Then the devil took Him into the holy city; and there he had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple. Matthew 4:5
Again the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. Matthew 4:8
Even when I battle with the Word, the temptation might not go away but the devil will change tactics and attack from another angle.
When this happens I must still respond with the Truth and in the Truth and I must rely on the Truth to bring my deliverance. If I respond to temptation with truth in myself I will continue to suffer from the deadly disease of pride as if I did it all.
I must not only know the truth, I must believe the truth is true for me. I must be able to apply to every situation in my life, every temptation that comes must be met with truth. But not any truth, it must be met with THE Truth!
I must be aware that temptations to sin can come from anywhere and can change. I must be ready for the rapid-fire changes and tactics or I will be caught off guard and will confuse the voice of temptation with the voice of my Savior.
If I wait the first time I heard something and then act when I hear it again I could be responding to temptation and not Jesus. Notice how the devil tempted Jesus to worship him all three times, but each time he changed the wording, the temptation didn’t change though.
And the tempter came and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” Matthew 4:3
Temptation (and the enemy–self or satan) attacks first who I am to bring doubt and confusion as to my identity. When he has me questioning who I am, he has me on the ropes because I will answer to and fall for anything he says next.
The temptation then expects me to prove my identity by my doing something it requires. Satan expected Jesus to prove His identity by obeying satan.
Jesus knows who I am and will never ask me to prove it. He, even in His testing me, does not use “if” statements. He will never say, “If you’re truly My child then do……” Just as I don’t expect my children to prove they are mine, He doesn’t expect us to prove it to Him either. He knows we are His. We are the ones who doubt.
He does, however, use “because” statements. “Because you are My child this behavior needs to (either) stop (or) grow.”
Temptation seeks to sound like God so I will fall for it every time. Temptation always seeks my worship. It seeks to draw my worship away from God. The more I–through the power of God–resist the more blatant the temptation becomes. Satan started tempting Jesus to make bread, then he moved to more blatant temptations of worship.
The only way to battle temptation is to stand firm in Jesus and in who He declares us to be. Apart from that we have no hope, and haven’t a leg to stand on when faced with temptation. Thankfully Jesus brings us His identity and He battles for us. When we forget who we are and when we are cocky and battle on our own in our own strength we will lose every time.