March 12, 2017Matthew 4Temptation   


      Life seems to be very difficult today.  It seems like many of us have a lot of issues in our life.   There is a lot of stress.   It seems like there is a lot on our plates.   I know that God is humbling his people.   There is a lot of pressure.   I am reminded today as I consider scriptures that Jesus did not have an easy life.   We see that he is baptized and then he is sent into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  Jesus came to give his life.   Jesus put others before himself.  He served and gave.  He ministered and scripture is plain that it cost him.   Jesus felt the power go out of his life.  He got tired and hungry.  Satan threw everything he could at Jesus.    Adam and Eve had it so good and they sin.   Jesus had a lot against him and he did not sin.  This passage is very encouraging because Jesus was victorious.   We are victorious in Jesus.   

    Jesus grew in wisdom and became strong and God’s hand was upon him.  Though Jesus was the son of God he learned obedience by the things which he suffered.   Jesus matured and grew in character and trials.  The Son of God – God learns obedience from suffering.   That is amazing.   We grow and mature through trials. I suppose some would consider that discouraging.     God uses people who have been through the fire.  God uses people who He has purified.  Isaiah 48:10 See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.  God tests us and tries us.   We grow in trials.  In first Peter we read do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial that we face.   If you are struggling it is not a strange thing.   I think Christians and non-Christians are struggling.  The world seems to be at war. 

    It is pretty stupid in my opinion for preachers or Christians to say everything is OK when things are not OK.  Yes we are positive and we have joy but we also need to speak the truth.  It seems to me like there is a huge push against truth today.  Jesus said he was truth.  We need to invite the truth and the truth is things are tough.  Things are better the closer we get to God I believe.   Things are right when we get close to God and obey God. 

    Jesus did not run from the tough stuff.  Jesus told it like it was.  Jesus spoke of heaven but Jesus also spoke of hell.  If you want to be a true friend to others tell them about hell.  If their house was burning you would wake them up if you knew they were asleep.  If you want God to answer your prayers and desire that God uses you in great ways you must draw near to him.   There are many things that your friends might do but God may say it is sin for you.  Jesus could have turned those stones into bread but it was wrong for him so Jesus did not do it.  Jesus would not follow Satan’s advice.  Jesus would not do what Satan wanted him to do.  Praise you Jesus. 

    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.  It is very encouraging that Jesus overcame temptation.   How does the Christian overcome temptation?   We use the word of God.  Jesus quoted from the Old Testament to defeat the devil.  Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy which was Moses sermon to the Children of Israel.  Jesus defeated the devil by using scripture.  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 can speak to you.  Satan can speak words to people in a church.   Satan can stir things up.   God has given you tools to defeat Satan.  James tells us to resist the devil and submit to God and the devil will flee.  I Corinthians tells us that no temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful who will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  God will provide a way out so you can stand.  Better to defeat temptation to do wrong than to submit to it. 

    We may not like the temptation or the struggle but Paul said I want to partake to experience the sufferings of Jesus     I am sure this time in the desert developed character in Jesus life.   It is like God sent him out into the desert for a face off with Satan.   There are no short cuts to Christian maturity and strong faith.  .    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.   The spirit of the living God can move people that you and I cannot move at all.    Are you praying for someone that is hard as a rock.    God can break rocks into pieces.  Jonah found that out.   In Jeremiah 23 God says is not my word like a fire and like a hammer that breaks the rocks in pieces.  Paul writes we have mighty weapons of warfare. 

      God’s spirit can push us.  Jonah agreed with God that he should go to Nineveh after spending some time in deep water.   We are not greater than Jesus and the path way to God is filled with denial.   As we think about this we need to reflect that God does not tempt us with evil James tells us.  God does not tempt us but God does test 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?  Probably Jesus temptation was for our good.  Jesus suffered being tempted and he understands temptation.   He has been there and done that.  You will probably struggle with things so that you can minister to others so if you want to be used by God welcome your trials.    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 harass him.     

      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.     Following a great victory is a trial.   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.   Elijah has a huge victory on Mount Carmel and then he runs.    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 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.   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.

   James tells us we are tempted by our flesh.  We can be tempted by the devil.  Jesus was hungry.   When we get hungry we are tempted to eat or we want to eat.  That is natural.  When the flesh and the devil team up it can be a tough battle.  .   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 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.  

      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 the devil says.   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.  

     Sometimes we may not even be aware that Satan is attacking us.   Jesus was hungry so Satan hit Jesus with food.  But turning stones into bread was wrong and Jesus said no way.  Jesus was not going to do a miracle in this situation to meet his personal; need.    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.   Jesus understands temptation.   He has been there and done that. 

  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.   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 can hit us when we are 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.  

    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.  

       Temptation is not meant to make us sin – it is meant to make it possible for us not to sin. If we stay in prayer and in the bible it will help us not to be tempted so much.   If we dabble with sin we will tempted more.   Challenging times are not meant to make us bad it is meant to make us good.     It is not meant to weaken us – it is meant to make us stronger, more mature and pure.    Temptation is not a penalty – temptation is a privilege of the person undergoing the trial – knowing that they are being strengthened for use by God.     Our reaction to trials and testing, our understanding of their purpose and their necessary place in life, where, when and how they will occur will help us to understand how God uses them in our lives for the glory of His Kingdom.  

       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 Satan.  

   The enemy whispers in our ear it is OK to eat more than we should.   Or to eat that second scoop of ice cream.   It is OK to sleep in – you need your sleep you know and you can just pray for your quiet time.   He whispers it is OK to miss bible study.   Satan will whisper it is ok to skip church.   You are tired today and you need to sleep in.  Satan will say you don’t need to read the bible today.     A disciple is disciplined.    Jesus always sought to please the father.   Jesus did not avoid suffering.   What a great example he is for us today.   Adam in the best of conditions in the Garden chose to sin and Jesus in the worst conditions chose not to sin.   I do not think Jesus ever used his divine powers to meet his own needs.     He did not step out of the Father’s will. 
   And if our Lord learned dependence and compassion through a wilderness experience, so will we.   Jesus was not here for his own comfort.   He sacrificed and poured out his life unto death.   Jesus did all of this because he loved you and if love God and others we will do the same.   

    For years, workers and visitors flocked to the sight of silvery dust flakes that floated to the floor in a mill where steel strips rolled over pads in a tall cooling tower. In his book The Heat: Steelworkers’ Lives and Legends, steelworker Joe Gutierrez tells how beautifully “the snow danced in August.”  Then people discovered the dust was asbestos. “Everybody breathed it,” wrote Gutierrez. He now suffers from the slow, choking grip of asbestosis, as do many plant workers.  “Who am I? I’m everybody. Can’t walk too far now. I get tired real fast, and it hurts when I breathe sometimes. And to think we used to fight over that job,” he says.  How many things in our culture resemble the silver flakes in that steel mill? They’re enchanting but deadly.   Lee Eclov, “Deceptive Appeal,”  Temptation can be enchanting but deadly.