After being baptized by John Jesus immediately went to the wilderness to pray and prepare Himself for what was to come. At the end of that time Satan used his best three temptations to defeat Jesus. He uses them against us as well!
The first temptation was for physical needs – Jesus was hungry after 40 days of not eating. Jesus could turn the stones to bread, but that was not God’s will. This was a legitimate need but not God’s way of meeting it.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Sin is using an illegitimate way to meet a legitimate need. Hunger is a legitimate need, but Jesus must meet it in God’s way, not is his own or Satan’s way. When tempted look for the legitimate need behind it (peace, comfort, companionship, joy, etc.) and seek to have that need met God’s way instead of taking a ‘shortcut’ that is sinful.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Building on what was just said, the fact that we have a legitimate need doesn’t mean it has to be immediately met. The very common “entitlement mentality” today seems to say we should have everything we want as soon as we want it, and that parents, God, the government, or life itself owes it to us! That is a very unbiblical attitude and quite dangerous. In fact, it’s the very lie Satan used with Eve in Eden – “You are entitled to this fruit!”
The second temptation Satan used was an appeal to Jesus’ pride. He was due recognition from all so Satan suggested an easy way to get it – by throwing Himself down from the highest part of the temple and letting angels come rescue Him in the sight of the watching crowds. If Satan wanted to defeat Jesus, why would he offer to help Him have everyone come worship Him? While this might have seemed like something that would benefit Jesus, it really was a subtle way to give him recognition without having to go to the cross. This would have been a short-cut to His Kingship – giving Him the throne of Israel without having to go through the agony of crucifixion. But if He had taken this route, then there would be no salvation for us – and that was exactly why Satan tempted Him in this way. He was willing for Jesus to have His temporary throne on earth as long as He didn’t pay for our sins in the process.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Pride is what motivted Satan to sin and rebel against God (Isaiah 14:13-14). It is still one of his best tools against us today (1 Timothy 3:6). There is no short-cut to maturity or spirituality, no easy way to grow. The way up is down. God exalts those who humble themselves (James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6). He humbles those who exalt themselves (Luke 18:14). Pride is self-centeredness, a focus on ones self. It is pride if we think we are better than others or if we think we are worse than others. Either extreme is pride, an inordinate attention to self. Either extreme is wrong. Satan doesn’t care which direction he gets us to fall as long as we fall!
Satan’s third temptation was a final desperate measure. He put it all on the line, something he didn’t have to do with Adam and probably didn’t want to do with Jesus. But everything was at stake so he offered Jesus ruler ship of the whole world if Jesus would bow down to Satan. Ruler ship of the world was what Jesus had come to win back, and Satan was offering to give it to Jesus for free. But there was one condition – Jesus would have to recognize Satan as His authority instead of God the Father. Again we see that the end does not justify the means.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Satan seems to offer people today everything they want if they turn to this world system. He received ownership from Adam of the world system of values and motives as it operates today (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). He tries to get us to think that we, too, can have everything we want. Adam and Eve believed this lie, and many today believe it as well. But it is a lie. It is Satan’s bait to trap people into bondage.
by Rev. Dr. Jerry Schmoyer, Christian Training Organization