Immediately following His baptism Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit, the ‘dove’ who had just descended on Him, into the desert (Matthew 4:1). He needed time to focus on what was about to come, to strengthen His spirit and commitment. He needed time alone with His Father, something that would happen time after time during His earthly life. After 40 days of fasting and praying Jesus was tempted by Satan. Whether He waited because God restrained him or because he wanted to hit Jesus when He was weakest is unknown. Satan, who had been opposing God’s plan of redemption from the beginning (Genesis 3:14-15), now focuses his attacks on Jesus.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Note that Jesus was in the perfect center of God’s will when He was tempted, for God Himself led Him to the desert (Matthew 4:1). Being tempted to sin does not mean we are out of God’s will or not following closely to Him. Often the opposite is true, like with Jesus. It is because we are following God closely that we are attacked the hardest. Be aware so you aren’t take by surprise. Don’t think it is a bad sign that you are tempted. Being attacked is actually a good sign for Satan only attacks those who are doing damage to his kingdom. When you aren’t being attacked is the time to make sure you haven’t drifted from the conflict (Luke 6:26).
LESSON FOR TODAY: Note that Satan attacks immediately, as soon as Jesus commits to doing God’s will by being baptized. For us, too, the attacks come when we move in the direction of following God. When we are not as close to God, Satan and his forces leave us alone, but when our devotion increases so do the enemy’s attacks. We soon discover that when we fade a bit in our walk with the Lord then the pressure decreases, tempting us to follow God, but not quite so closely!
LESSON FOR TODAY: Notice, too, that this battle with Satan was God’s perfect will for Jesus. “Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1). God does not prevent our battles, no matter how hard we pray for that to happen, but He does help us through them. So it is better to focus on fighting them in His strength than looking for ways to avoid them. They are part of God’s will for us because they strength us and show us that His grace is sufficient, as was true of the Jews fighting for the Promised Land behind Joshua’s leadership.
LESSON FOR TODAY: The place where Jesus was sent by God to fast, pray and battle Satan was the “desert,” considered the abode of demons (Matthew 12:43). Sometimes God leads us into strongholds of Satan’s so we can do battle for Him, knowing we can experience have victory through His power (I John 4:4). We aren’t to run from such encounters but face them with His strength.
When Satan was unable to defeat Jesus after three tries he left, and the angels came to minister to Jesus (Matthew 4:11). Satan wasn’t done, though. Luke 4:13 says he left but would return at an “opportune time.” He is never done, he never stops working against Jesus.
LESSON FOR TODAY: There will be lulls in demonic oppression against us. Often it seems oppression comes in cycles or waves. Some times things are very difficult, then it seems the attacks get milder or even disapear for awhile. But they always return. We will never have ultimate, total victory in this life. If you are going through a difficult time remember that it will one day lessen. If you are not going through a time of challenges and attackes, be prepared for when it returns. Don’t be surprised or discouraged when it returns, either. Use this rest time to refresh and prepare for the battle when it starts again.
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)