September 14, 2014  Matthew 4  Temptation 


    Why do you think this passage is in the scripture?   Do you find scripture encouraging?   Do you find the word of God living, refreshing and challenging?  I suppose some might say if this is what the Christian life is about let me out.   I do not want any part of that.   Interesting that Paul said I want to partake to experience the sufferings of Jesus.   This is kind of a tough passage.   Jesus suffers and is tempted.   Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.    Hebrews 5:8 although he was a son he learned obedience from what he suffered.  I find that is really hard to wrap my arms around.   Jesus learns obedience from suffering.   I am sure it developed character in Jesus life.   It is like God sent him out into the desert to be beat up.   The gospel of Mark makes it quite forceful.   The King James says the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.  The Living Bible says urged and the Revised Standard bible says the Spirit immediately drove him.  There is more than one way to look at that.    I also find this very encouraging.    The spirit of the living God can move people.   Are you praying for someone that is hard as rock.    God can break that rock to pieces.   In Jeremiah 23 God says is not my word like a fire and like a hammer that breaks the rocks in pieces.  Paul writers we have mighty weapons of warfare. 

          I am amazed as I look at this first verse in Matthew 4 that Jesus was led by the spirit of God into the wilderness to be tempted.   Do you want to be led by the HS?   Well maybe Lord.   Where is the HS going to lead me?   Well sometimes the spirit of God leads us out into the dry place.  He is there though.  You are never out there alone.   He may lead us out into places where we are challenged and buffeted.   Sometimes he leads us in places that do not seem to have lush green grasses and where the waters are anything but still.   Sometimes there are storms as Jonah and Peter found out. The apostle Paul said I want to partake of Christ’s sufferings.   I want to experience what Jesus suffered he said.   I want to be part of that.   We will find that it is well worth it.  The return is far greater than the loss.  The Christian life is not boring. 

       God’s spirit can push us.  Jonah agreed with God that he should go to Nineveh after spending some time deep in the water.   We are not greater than Jesus and God can allow or send similar things into our life or others.    As we think about this we need to reflect that God does not tempt us with evil James tells us.  These times are not fun.  This was not a fun time for Jesus.   Jesus was sinless so why did He have to suffer?   It does not seem fair does it?   Good people get hurt in this fallen world.    Not all of our walk with God is fun and easy.   Some might say well pastor you might have a bigger church if you preached a more of health and wealth type messages.   Truth needs to be preached.  There is more than health and wealth in the scriptures.   The world we live in is not fun or easy.  Many Christians have the wrong view about suffering in America today.  We are at war and war is tough.   As soon as Jesus started ministering it was all out war.  He was in the battle.  Jesus fasted 40 days and 40 nights and then he was hungry and then the Satan comes to tempt, to test, and to beat him up.      

      This event takes place immediately after Jesus is baptized.    The father says this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.  God blesses and then Satan hits or attacks.    Jesus always obeyed the Father and he never sinned.   I suppose we could read between the lines and say if Jesus was tempted so we will be also.    We desire to please the Father.  We want to do the right thing and that will be tested.    The HS descends on Jesus at his baptism and then bang Jesus is led into the wilderness to be tested and tempted.   Similar things can happen to us.   Deuteronomy 8 tells us that the Children of Israel were tested in the desert and they did not fare so well did they.   They had the victory of getting out of Egypt and then Pharaohs army is destroyed in the sea and then testing.     I find that when I have a spiritual high that is when the enemy comes.   Paul was given revelations and blessings and then a thorn to humble him.    Our commitment will be tested.      God fills us and blesses us and then the enemy comes.   We go from the mount of transfiguration to the valley below where the people are hurting and where Satan is destroying lives.   We go from Sunday morning to Monday morning.  We must remember that Satan’s desire is to destroy those that love God   Satan attacked Jesus and he has attacks the church. 

     Jesus gets baptized and then he gets tested.   It seems strange in a way.  Why is this passage in the scripture?   II Timothy 3 tells us well all scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.     Training in righteousness speaks to our life.   So I guess we could ask how does this passage train us or help us?   I think this passage for one thing should encourage us.   If you wanted to ice fish in the early winter but was unsure if the ice would hold you might not go.   But if you saw someone out there fishing with a snow mobile that would show that the ice could support you.    If you wanted to drive a pick up out on the ice but were unsure if the ice was strong enough and then you saw an 18 wheeler on the ice it would put your mind to ease.  It is nice to know that someone has gone before you.  When we are tempted and we can know that Jesus went before us and took everything that the devil could throw at him and Jesus did not sin or fall.  Hebrews 12 tells us let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfector of our faith who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross despising the shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.   Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  

     Hebrews 4 tells us that Jesus was tempted in every way like we are yet without sin.   Temptation is not sin.  Some believe that means that he experienced all of the depth of temptation not that Jesus was tempted to do every sin.  I do not think that Jesus was tempted to get drunk or to kill someone.  Satan appeals to Jesus in 3 ways in this passage.   Satan hit Jesus as hard as he could and Jesus stood true.  When Satan left him in verse 11 the angels came and ministered to him.  It is a good possibility that if you have experienced angels ministering to you that you have been in the battle.    The test was deep and very real.   The test was personal and it was right where Jesus was at.  He was hungry so Satan hit Jesus with food.    God made provision for Jesus for angels came to minister to Him.   In our greatest trials God is there meeting needs and helping.   He will never leave or forsake us.   He wraps his arms around us in tenderness and love.  The angel of the Lord encamps around those that trust him and delivers them.  

      We should not think that we are above temptation.   Jesus was perfect and he was tempted.    We are tempted and at times we want to do wrong.   Sometimes we desire to give up.  Sometimes we are tempted to take the easy path and not do the hard thing.  Sometimes Christians yield to temptation and then we sin.  Have you given in to temptation lately?   In the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples Jesus tells them to pray keep us from evil or keep us from the evil one.   We need that ring of protection around us.    Jesus did not take any short cuts.  We also have the promise of God that there is no temptation has seized you except what is common to man and God is faithful he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.   Jesus understands temptation.   He has been there and done that. 

    Jesus is out in the desert al alone.   It is hot and dry. We think of deserts as warm but in the day time it can get to 120 or 130 degrees and then at night drop to 70 or 80 degrees.   It can be tough on the body to have those 50 degree drops of temperature.  Those 70 to 80 degree nights are cold.    I have been out in Death Valley CA twice and the last time I was with my family and it was 128 degrees at 10:30 in the morning at the weather station there.  That was a little bit tough on the van we were driving.   I think that was a little bit warmer than what I experienced in Viet Nam.  Jesus is out with the wild animals.  Jesus is out there for 40 days.   That is difficult.   The natural body at that point would be very open for temptation and desiring food.    I suspect the body is hungry to the point that a person would do almost anything to get food.   There must have been the feeling of being desperate for food.  When you and I get hungry we just go the ice box or the cookie jar.   Do you want to grow in Christ likeness?   Cut down on the amount of food you eat and fast.   Let fasting become part of your life.  Jesus started his ministry with a 40 day fast.  There is a good example. 

    Jesus was alone and it is not good for us to be alone.   Satan likes to separate Christians and he likes to divide and conquer.   Unity in Christian fellowship and unity in the family is very precious.    Christian fellowship and corporate worship are important.  Jesus later calls a dozen men to himself.   He sends them out to minister.   Jesus does not do everything alone.   Jesus had the father in the wilderness but he was alone other than that.  

      It is encouraging that God’s spirit can move people.   It is encouraging that Jesus has gone before us and that God will not allow us to be tempted above our ability.   God entrusts us with temptation.   God knows what you can handle.    Jesus endured a lot and God entrusted him with a lot.  Did God do that to hurt Jesus?   No of course not.   But it was a season of testing and a season of being strengthened for the battles ahead.   It is tough to be in the desert.    You may feel that God has entrusted you with a lot.   Temptation is not fun and hunger is not fun.  A disciple of Jesus Christ is disciplined.   He or she is self controlled.  

      It is interesting that Jesus the word of God uses the word of God to defeat Satan.  It is very encouraging that there is power in the word of God.   Jesus soundly defeats Satan using the word of God.  The word of God is powerful.   Jesus spoke truth to Satan.   Satan spoke to Jesus to tempt him.   Satan will speak to you.  Satan can speak words to people in a church.   Satan can stir things up.  Satan says Jesus turn these stones into bread.  When you are hungry and tempted to eat you can say no the cookie jar and no the ice box.   I find it helps to change my focus.   It helps to get my eyes off me.  It helps to listen to worship music.   It helps to read the word of God.   It is important to change what we are thinking about when we are tempted.   Jesus told the enemy that man shall not live by bread alone.  In John 4 Jesus said I have meat to eat that you do not know about.  His meat was obedience to God and to minister to others.   Jesus did not fool around with Satan.   Jesus did not talk to him or consider Satan’s offers.   Jesus spoke the truth to Satan.   Sin never satisfies on the long term.  Sin cheapens and degrades us.  Sin brings people into slavery.   We cannot play with the temptation.  

     Notice that Satan attacks were personal to Jesus.   He approaches Jesus and said if you are the son of God.   Satan knew that Jesus was the son of God.  The enemy knows you and he knows your weakness.  Satan does not have all wisdom but Satan knows Jesus is hungry.  Satan waits for the right time to tempt our Lord.   It is personal.  Sometimes he attacks our character or he attacks us physically.    Job was afflicted with boils.    He knows when we are weak and where we are weak.   He tells Jesus if you are the Son of God command these stones to be made into bread.   Well Jesus could have done that.  Jesus blessed the loaves and the fishes and fed thousands.   He turned water into wine. 

     Jesus could have ministered to his own need.  Jesus could have used his power to meet his own need but he refused.   Jesus defeated the devil with the word of God.     Temptation can be resisted by using spiritual tools.   Temptation can be resisted by using the word of God and in all 3 cases Jesus used the word of God against the devil.   Satan may have said to Jesus if God loved you he would provide bread for you.   You are hungry in fact you are starving.   Bread is good for you.   You are hungry and you can be full.   Use your power to meet your needs.   Can you hear him say what is wrong with eating?   You have to eat to live.  I suspect Jesus told him I am supposed to be hungry right now.   God loves me and he will provide what I need in his time.   I am going to wait for the Father.   Lust says right now and love says to wait.  

    Jesus has gone before us.   We do have victory in him.   We do have spiritual armor.   Whatever temptation you face it is common to man and God will use it for His glory if we walk with Him.    I want to encourage you to walk close to the Lord.   It is dangerous not to have the spiritual armor on especially in these days.   It is far more dangerous to not walk with Jesus than to walk with him.   Draw near to Jesus.   He is the only one who will give you a wall of righteousness to protect you.   We need his presence.  We need Jesus to surround us.   Remember that greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world.   Jesus defeated Sat