Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 4:1-11.
Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil (Matthew 4:1).
There is much to learn in the inspired account of Christ’s temptation (Matt 4:1-11). Most importantly, we learn about our Lord; we also learn about Satan and his devices; and we learn about our defenses against Satan.
First, we learn how Christ was tempted, not succumbing to temptation, but he triumphed over it through obedience.
In this he not only proved himself to be one who knows our frame, who knows what it is to suffer all manner of temptation, but he also provided us a model for overcoming temptation by obedience.
Consider Hebrews 4:15: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”
Second, we learn about the devices of Satan.
He is like a roaring and prowling lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). He attempts to strike at us when we are most weak and vulnerable, especially when we are alone and in the wilderness. He tries to deceive us by twisting God’s Word and casting doubt on his propositions and promises to us. He will appeal to our desire to satisfy our physical appetites, to have peace and security, and to have power and prosperity. He will twist the Word of God and try to justify our sin by adding a veneer of piety and religiosity. He will even quote Scripture to serve his own ends. He will masquerade as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14).
Third, we learn how to resist and defeat Satan by following the model of Christ.
Our first defense is listening to the voice of God and not the voice of Satan. We follow God’s commands, not Satan’s suggestions.
Every temptation is not only an opportunity to fall into sin, but also an opportunity to stand firm in obedience. The man who lifts weights builds up his muscle by resisting and pushing away the weight. So spiritual strength comes by resistance. See James 4:7: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
We need also avail ourselves of the armory of God’s Word. When Paul lists the whole armor of God in Ephesians 6:17 the last thing he commends is taking up “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” We need to hide God’s Word in our hearts that we might not sin against him.
Some of you have heard me suggest the idea of taking one simple verse and using it as an "arrow verse" to repeat and pray when you are feeling attacked and overwhelmed. Shooting out a Scripture arrow from your lips or heart can help in times of trouble.
For fear and anxiety, one might use Psalm 56:3: “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.”
For struggles with lust, Psalm 101:3: “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes.”
For struggles with unresolved anger, Ephesians 4:26: “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.”
For struggles with pride, Proverbs 16:18: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
You can build up your own arsenal, your own reserve of scriptural resources, that might become a means of grace for your sanctification.
Finally, we are reminded that God allowed the temptation of our Lord, and he will allow us to suffer this as well. But he also gave deliverance, and respite, and he gave his angels to minister to him (Matt 4:11). We can also be sure he will do the same for us.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle