We all want to do great things for God. As Christians, our deepest desire should be to tell others about Him, to reach those who don’t yet know Him as Lord and Savior. But before God can fully trust us with this task, we must be tested. Jesus came to earth to accomplish the greatest mission in history; he came to die so we could inherit heaven, but even the Son of God had to be tested. In this 3-part series, I will describe the 3 biggest temptations used by the devil to knock us off our mission. Drawing wisdom from Matthew 4:1-11, we can learn from Jesus’ own wilderness experience.
Adam Failed His Test
To understand Matthew 4, we must travel back to Genesis 2 where God gave the first man, Adam, his mission.
Starting in verse 15, it says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” After Eve was created, God told them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground (Genesis 1:28).
God’s instruction was to take care of creation. In order to prove themselves loyal to the mission, God gave them a test. Adam and Eve had access to everything on the planet, except for one tree. God told them, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
We all know what happened. The devil showed up and talked Eve into eating from the one tree that wasn’t theirs. Then Adam followed suit and ate from it. They were kicked out of the garden and sin entered the world through their disobedience. Every child since then is born with their sinful character and nature. So God set in motion a plan to send another man to save the world from its sinful destiny.
God Sent Us Jesus
John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus came to fulfill his mission on the earth and like Adam, Jesus had to be tested in order to prove himself worthy to be our Savior. If he failed, he would simply be another Adam who chose himself over God. However, if Jesus passed the temptations, He would become the perfect sacrifice. He would offer up his own perfection to pay for the sin of the world.
Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit of God. He prepared for his testing by fasting forty days and forty nights…and then the devil showed up again.
The devil used three main temptations. His plan was to turn Jesus’ focus onto himself in order to prevent him from dying to pay for our sins. The devil tried to get Jesus to:
Forget God – You don’t need God. You can do it yourself.
“After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Doubt God – Is God even real? Can you trust what He says?
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”
Turn away from God – Okay, God can be trusted, but I will give you so much more if you’ll just worship me instead.
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Part 1 – Forget God
Back in the Garden, Adam and Eve were busy taking care of things. The devil enticed them to forget God and strike out on their own. He convinced them they didn’t need God and if they ate from the forbidden tree, they would be like God and could take care of themselves. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil (Genesis 2:5).” They failed the first temptation, so there was no need to use any others.
Fast forward to the wilderness. Jesus was hungry and the devil wanted Jesus to forget he was on a selfless mission to save the world and instead to focus on himself. Just forget about God. You can do this on your own. What does he know anyway? You have the power within you to feed yourself! YOU DON’T NEED GOD!!
How many kids have thought the same thing? What makes a teenager think they no longer need their parents’ wisdom and help to maneuver in the world? It’s the same temptation used in the Garden and wilderness. It’s like they wake up one day and say, “Who are they to tell me what to do? I can make my own decisions. I can be the god of my life. Forget them! I DON’T NEED THEM!”
What About You and Me?
We get upset with our kids, but what about us? Don’t we fall for the same temptation and focus on ourselves to the point of forgetting God? We’re also here on a mission, to know God and to make Him known to the world. If I kept a record of my time and spending habits, how much of it would be for either knowing God or telling others about Him? I fear the majority would revolve around my own desires. I forget God in favor of what I want, so what can I do to change?
What To Do In The Wilderness
When we find ourselves in the wilderness of temptations, we must do exactly what Jesus did. We stand in the power and strength of what God said. The Bible is an amazing gift. What’s contained within aren’t just words; they are a powerful weapon. Ephesians 6:17 reveals the Word of God is the sword of God’s Spirit. It’s ours to use for defeating every ruler, authority, power, and all spiritual forces of evil that tries to tempt us to forget about God. Jesus wielded this sword by declaring, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” He used God’s Word to slice off the devil’s temptation.
We are physical beings who will die without food, but we are also spiritual beings who will die without God. We must not forget we desperately need Him for every breath we breathe. It takes God’s wisdom to make wise decisions. Success comes only by depending on Him and doing His will. We cannot do life on our own!
“For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires will pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever (1 John 2:16-17).”
No, devil, we will not forget God!
Stay tuned for The Three Biggest Temptations, Part 2.
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