“Emmanuel’s Test” – Matthew 4:1-11

October 12th, 2014

Matthew 4:1-11

(see also: Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-14; Ephesians 6:10-18; James 1:12-18)

“Emmanuel’s Test”


Meditation/Preparation: Jesus is the only One who has endured the full blast of Satan’s temptations.  And Jesus did it for you as He suffered and agonized vicariously living the perfect life you were designed and created to live.


Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.  Hebrews 4:15


Background Information:

  • From the very nature of the event, this must be an autobiographical account from the lips of the Lord Himself. Who else could know the details?  Jesus represented it, not as a mere mental exercise, but as intense conflict with a real evil personage.  (J. Oswald Sanders, Bible Studies in Matthew’s Gospel, 21)
  • Spiritual experiences of high exaltation have their dangers. Paul was made painfully aware of this (2 Cor 12:7).  They are often followed by periods of severe testing.  (J. Oswald Sanders, Bible Studies in Matthew’s Gospel, 21)
  • Adam as our forefather and head failed. Israel as God’s son failed.  Jesus never fails.
  • (v. 1) It was called Jeshimmon, which means “The Devastation.” The hills were like dust heaps; the limestone looked blistered and peeling; the rocks were bare and jagged; the ground sounded hollow to the horses’ hooves; it glowed with heat like a vast furnace and it ran out to the precipices, 1,200 feet high, which swooped down to the Dead Sea.  It was there in that awesome devastation that Jesus was tempted.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible:  The Gospel of Luke, 38-39)
  • (v. 1) The verb “tempted” here is the same Greek root word that James uses in James 1:2 “trials” (James 1:2) Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
  • (v. 1) In English the word tempt has come to mean almost without exception “tempt to do evil.” But the word for tempt in Hebrew and Greek means “to test or prove.”  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1, 54)
  • (v. 1) The verb “to be tempted” describes continuous action because Jesus was tempted constantly during the forty days. The word “tempted” means “to put to the test to see what good or evil, strengths or weaknesses, exist in a person.”  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 55)
  • (v. 1) Peirasmos is trial or testing directed towards an end, and the end is that he who is tested should emerge stronger and purer from the testing. . . .The idea is not that of seduction into sin but of strengthening and purifying. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: James and Peter, 42)
  • (v. 2) The number forty brings to mind the forty days of rain in the great Flood (Gn 7:17), the forty days Moses spent on Mount Sinai (Ex 24:18), the forty years of Israel’s wandering in the wilderness (Dt 29:5), the forty days of Goliath’s taunting of Israel prior to David’s victory (1 Sm 17:16), and the forty days of Elijah’s time of fear in the wilderness (1 Kgs 19:8). In all those situations, God worked in his people, preparing them for special tasks.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 57)
  • (v. 3) The desert was littered with little round pieces of limestone rock which were exactly like little loaves; even they would suggest this temptation to Jesus. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 66-67)
  • In all three quotes from Deuteronomy, found in Lk 4:4, 8, and 12, (as well as in Mt 4:1-11) the context shows that Israel failed each test each time. (Bruce B. Barton, D.Min., Life Application Bible Commentary: Luke, 86)
  • (v. 5) The location and form of the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem has not been identified with certainty. It must have been part of the reconstruction ordered by Herod the Great and most likely was on the eastern side of the Temple, overlooking the Kidron Valley.  The pinnacle may have been the roof that extended out over Herod’s portico.  Josephus reports that the drop to the valley floor was some 450 feet.  According to early tradition, James, the head of the Jerusalem church, was martyred by being thrown from that portico.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 93)
  • (v. 6) It was this passage that Shakespeare had in mind when he made Antonio say: “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose” (The Merchant of Venice, Act 1, scene 3). (Abingdon Press, The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. VIII, 87)
  • (vss. 8-9) He can make the offer, the devil declares, because all the kingdoms of the world have been delivered unto him and he has the power to give them to whomsoever he will. In these words Satan appears in his true colours, as the arch-deceiver and the aspirant after the power and glory which belong only to God.  It is, indeed, true that by God’s permission the kingdoms of the world (in so far as sin rules in the hearts and lives of the leaders and also of the individual members of the nations) have been delivered to him.  Thus Jesus Himself spoke of him as the prince of this world (Jn 12:31, 14:30, 16:11).  But He did not mean it in an absolute sense as the arch-deceiver himself pretended.  (Norval Geldenhuys, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Gospel of Luke, 160)
  • (v. 11) That he did, indeed, resume his attacks afterward is clear from such passages as Mt 16:23; Lk 22:28. In the light of Heb 2:18 see also Mt 26:36-46; Mk 3:21, 31; 8:32, 33.  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 234)
  • (v. 11) That angels came and attended him in no way lessens the intensity of the temptations that Jesus faced. The angels may have given Jesus food and drink because the Greek word diekonoun, usually translated “ministering” or “attending,” can also mean “serving food” (see 1 Kgs 19:5 where angels ministered to Elijah).  More likely, the angels’ ministry was spiritual in nature–attending to Jesus’ spiritual needs.  The verb indicates continuous action.  As Satan’s temptations lasted continuously during the forty days, so did the ministrations of the angels.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 64)
  • (v. 11) Angels are continuously present. Heb 1:14 defines angels as messengers for God and ministers to people.  They show compassion for human beings.  Passages such as Mt 18:10; Lk 15:10; Acts 12:14-15; and Rv 19:10 support the idea of guardian angels.  As agents of God, angels bring special help to believers (Acts 5:19-21; 12:7-10).  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 64)
  • At any time during His wilderness experience Jesus could have asked for and received the aid of “more than twelve legions of angels” (Mt 26:53). But He waited for His Father to send them in His Father’s time.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 98)


Notes on Satan:

  • Other names for Satan in the NT include: “tempter” (Mt 4:3; 1 Thes 3:5), Beelzebul (e.g. Mt 12:24), “the enemy” (Mt 13:39), Belial (2 Cor 6:15), “god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4; cf. Jn 12:31), “power of darkness” (Lk 22:53), “prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2), “adversary” (1 Pt 5:8), “deceiver (Rv 12:9), “dragon” (e.g., 12:3), “the ancient serpent (e.g., 20:2), “father of lies” and “murderer” (Jn 8:44), “the accuser” (Rv 12:10), Apollyon (9:11), and “the evil one (e.g., 1 Jn 2:13f.). (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Vol. Four, 342)
  • Scriptural picture of Satan. 1.  His names.  Beside the two principal names already mentioned, a number of other names and descriptive designations are applied to Satan.  They serve to reveal the dignity and character of this mighty celestial being.  He is called “Abaddon” and “Apollyon” (Rv 9:11), both meaning “the destroyer”; “the accuser of our brethren” (12:10); “the adversary” (1 Pt 5:8); “Beelzebul” (Mt 12:24); “Belial” (2 Cor 6:15); “the deceiver of the whole world” (Rv 12:9); “the great dragon” (12:9); “an enemy” (Mt 13:28, 39); “the evil one” (13:19, 38); “the father of lies” (Jn 8:44); “the god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4); “a liar” (Jn 8:44); “a murderer” (8:44); “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2); “the ruler of the world” (Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11); “the ancient serpent” (Rv 12:9); “the tempter” (Mt 4:3; 1 Thes 3:5). (The Zondervan Pictoral Encyclopedia of the Bible Q-Z, 282)
  • He is the leader of a vast, compact organization of spirit-beings, “his angels” (Mt 25:41; Rv 12:7). As “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2), he skillfully directs an organized host of wicked spirits in the heavenlies who do his bidding (6:12).  The fallen angels who gave their allegiance to Satan (Rv 12:4, 7, 9) apparently retain their ranks, dignities, and titles which were divinely given them. (The Zondervan Pictoral Encyclopedia of the Bible Q-Z, 283)
  • Satan is also described as “the ruler of this world” (Jn 12:31). The “world” which he rules is the present world system organized according to his own principles, methods, and aims (2 Cor 4:3, 4; Eph 2:2; Col 1:13; 1 Jn 2:15-17).  The greed and self-centered ambitions of the nations, the deceptive diplomacy of the political world, the bitter hatred and rivalry in the sphere of commerce, the godless ideologies of the masses of humanity, all spring out of and are fostered by satanic influence.  Satan exercises his domination over “the sons of disobedience” (Eph 2:2).  The statement that “the whole world lieth in the evil one” (1 Jn 5:19 ASV) indicates that the world of unregenerated humanity lies in the grip of Satan and supinely yields to his power.  Satan has gained his power over mankind by trickery and usurpation.  As the instigator of human sin, whose punishment is death, Satan gained “the power of death” and uses the fear of death as a means to keep men under his domination (Heb 2:14, 15). (The Zondervan Pictoral Encyclopedia of the Bible Q-Z, 283)
  • Satan uses the weaknesses and limitations of men to entice them to sin (1 Cor 7:5). He also employs the allurements of the world (1 Jn 2:15-17; 4:4).  He commonly tempts men to evil by the falsehood that they can attain a desired good through the doing of wrong.  His mode of operation is vividly demonstrated in the account of the Fall in Genesis 3.  Deception is a universal feature of his activities, justifying his description as “the deceiver of the whole world” (Rv 12:9).  He constantly lays “snares” for men to make them his captives (1 Tm 3:7; 2 Tm 2:26).  A fundamental temptation employed is pride (1 Tim 3:6).

Satan opposes the work of God through his counterfeiting activities.  He oversows the wheat with darnel, placing counterfeit believers among “the sons of the kingdom” (Mt 13:25, 38, 39).  These counterfeit believers form “a synagogue of Satan” (Rv 2:9; 3:9).   Satan often disguises himself as “an angel of light” by presenting his messengers of falsehood as messengers of truth (2 Cor 11:13-15).  Those who thus give themselves over to evil and become the agents of Satan to persuade others to do evil are the children and servants of the devil (Jn 6:70; 8:44; Acts 13:10).  -The Zondervan Pictoral Encyclopedia of the Bible Q-Z, 283

  • Satan rules in the hearts of all those who are not “born of God” (1 Jn 3:8f.); they are called the “children of the devil” (v. 10; cf. Jn 8;44). Prior to regeneration all were energized and motivated by the spirit of Satan (Eph 2:2; cf. Acts 26:18).  For the time being God has granted Satan a limited power over death, and Satan uses the fear of death to keep people in bondage to him (Heb 2:14f.).  (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Vol. Four, 342)
  • Thus Jesus, through His death and resurrection, has already won the decisive victory over Satan. But the battle still continues, for according to He. 1:13; 10:12f. Jesus, who is now seated at the Father’s right hand, is waiting until His enemies shall be made His footstool.  A total separation between good and evil will be made only at the close of redemptive history, when Satan and his demons will be cast into the lake of fire (Mt 25:41; Rv 20:10).
  1. Satan’s Objective.  In the meantime Satan’s goal is to keep or get people back under his rule.  Satan employs all sorts of strategies (Eph 6:11f., 2 Cor 2:10f.; 1 Tm 3:6f.; 2 Tm 2:26) to keep people out of Jesus’ kingdom.  He snatches the word of God’s kingdom from the hearts of many before they grasp its excellence and submit to it (Mt 13:19).  He also blinds the minds of unbelievers to “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Cor 4:4).  Satan’s attacks against God’s people become increasingly intense as he realizes how quickly his time is running out (Rv 12:12).  (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Vol. Four, 343)
  • One of Satan’s most common scriptural names is the devil, from diabolos, which means accuser or slanderer. Among the many other names given him are: the ruler of this world (Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11), the prince of the power of the air (Eph 2:2), the god of this world (2 Cor 4:4), the serpent of old and the deceiver of the whole world (Rv 12:9), Abaddon and Apollyon, both of which mean “destroyer” (Rv 9:11), and the tempter, as seen in the next verse of our text (Mt 4:3; cf. 1 Thes 3:5).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 86)
  • Many people, including some professing Christians, do not believe in a personal devil. But Satan has never made himself more personally manifest than he did to Jesus in the wilderness.  The Lord’s own account shows unmistakably that the opponent He faced was personal in every sense.  Satan was so real even to Martin Luther that it is reported that on one occasion Luther threw an inkwell at his adversary.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 86-87)
  • The devil’s single purpose is to frustrate the plan of God and to usurp the place of God. He therefore continually attacks Christ and all who belong to Him.  He also pursues every effort to keep others from coming to Christ.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 87)


The questions to be answered are . . . What is going on in this strange encounter that Jesus has with the Devil?  What does it all mean?


Answers:  Because God’s beloved sons (Adam and Israel) failed to pass the test when tempted by Satan, God sent Jesus to vicariously live the life they (and we) were supposed to live and lived it perfectly for all of us.   Jesus endured every possible temptation that we face.   Only He was victorious for us.


What is temptation?  It is always, in one way or another, the deception that something is more to be desired than God and his ways.  Therefore, the prayer for deliverance is that we would not fall for that deception but always taste and know that God and his ways are to be desired above all others.  (John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God, 147)


Self-will is Satan’s will and is therefore by definition the opposite of God’s will, which is for us to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Mt 6:33).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 96)


Abraham sought what God promised in his own self-styled act with Hagar, and tragedy resulted.  It always does.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 96-97)


Satan is a counterfeiter.  He offers what seems to be the same as what God offers, and his price is much cheaper.  “God wants you to prosper, doesn’t He?” Satan asks.  “Well, I’ll give you prosperity a lot sooner and for a lot less.  Just turn your head a little at questionable practices.  Give in when it’s advantageous; don’t be a prude; follow the crowd.  That’s the way to success.”  The basic argument is always a form of the idea that the end justifies the means.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 97)


Do not say, “What a bad heart I have, or I could not be tempted so;” on the contrary, reason this way: “What a strong enemy I have, how he plagues me, and does he play his game for nothing?  Is he laying all his plots and schemes and plans that he may win a rotten straw?”  Through the force and urgency and number of your temptations, see the grandest side of your nature.  Who wastes his guns on empty fortresses?  Who wastes his fire in burning up that which is itself valueless for all the purposes of cleansing and purification?  In proportion as you are great and noble and heavenly-minded will be the force and persistency of the diabolic assault.  (Joseph Parker, The Inner Life of Christ, Studies in Matthew 1-7, 96)


The Word for the Day is . . . Tested


Here Jesus proved He was worthy to receive and to reign over the kingdom His Father would give Him.  The One of whom the Father had just said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (3:17), here shows why He was well-pleasing to His Father.  He shows that, even in the extreme of temptation, He consistently lived in perfect harmony with the divine plan. Here He first demonstrated His power over hell.  His absolute sovereignty forbade Him to bow to the “god of this world,” so He faced the full force of Satan’s wicked deception, yet remained untouched and uncontaminated.  Evil at its lowest was overcome by Him, and goodness at its highest commended Him.  The combination of both accredited Him as King.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 84-85)


One of the great truths of life, from which even the Son of God was not exempt on earth, is that after every victory comes temptation.  God’s Word warns, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor 10:12).  When we have just succeeded in something important, we are invariably tempted to think that we made the accomplishment in our own power and that it is rightfully and permanently ours.  When we are most exhilarated with success we are also most vulnerable to pride–and to failure.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 85-86)


In each instance the devil tempts Jesus to bypass the suffering that God has marked out for him and to use his power in a triumphalist, self-glorifying fashion.  (G. K. Beale and D.  A. Carson, Commentary on the NT Use of the OT, 14)


What is Matthew trying to tell us in revealing to us the details of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness?:



Halt = don’t allow yourself to be tempted because you are:







I-  As our substitute Jesus vicariously and perfectly passed all tests we failed and that we continue to fail as a result of the temptation from the Devil himself. (Mt 4:1-11: see also: Mk 1:12-13; Lk 4:1-13)


Satan’s first great frontal attack on Jesus Christ as He began His earthly ministry was in the form of three temptations, each designed to weaken and destroy the Messiah in an important area of His mission.  The temptations became progressively worse.  The first was for Jesus to distrust the providential care of His Father and to use His own divine powers to serve Himself.  The second was to presume on the Father’s care by putting Him to the test.  The third was for Him to renounce the way of His Father and to substitute the way of Satan.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 89-90)


In essence, by alluding to Deuteronomy Jesus was saying, “I will not complain.  Neither will I take matters into my own hands.  My Father has not willed to immediately provide bread.  But I will trust him and his word.”  In doing this Jesus demonstrated that no need would ever drive him to draw back from his humble human existence as a real man who lives by trusting God’s Word.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Luke, Vol. One, 133)


Satan met Adam in the paradise of Eden, where everything good was provided and nothing harmful existed.  Adam lost his battle with Satan while in the perfect situation.  The Second Adam met Satan in the desolate, forbidding wilderness, where “He was with the wild beasts” (Mk 1:13) and was without food for forty days (Lk 4:2).  Yet what the first Adam lost in an ideal environment the Second Adam won back in a terribly imperfect environment.  What better proof can there be that spiritual and moral failure are not caused by circumstances but by the character and response of the one who is tempted?  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 87)


Both in type and in direct fulfillment, Jesus’ early life has paralleled the history of Israel.  This point will be made all the stronger when we see that each of Jesus’ replies to the tempter comes from Deuteronomy, Moses’ final narration to the Israelites.  But most important, harking back to Israel’s experience emphasizes Jesus’ victory.  Jesus Messiah fulfills the nation of Israel’s experience.  Although Israel had the endowment of the Spirit given to them (cf. Nm 11:17, 25, 26, 29; 14:24; 24:2, 18), Jesus will be fully obedient to the Spirit’s leading where the nation was not.  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 157)


Offering himself implies suffering.  He suffers vicariously.  One of the forms assumed by this suffering is temptation (4:1-11): “He suffered being tempted” (Heb 2:18).  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 221)


We are unable to analyze minutely what occurred in the heart of Christ when he was tempted.  But neither do we know how sin originated in the sinless heart of Adam, how guilt can be “imputed” from the sinner to the Savior, how the latter’s righteousness can be transferred to his followers, how our Lord can be both omniscient (with respect to his divine nature) and not omniscient (according to his human nature), etc.  It ought not to surprise us, therefore, that Christ’s temptation, whether here in the wilderness or later, surpasses our understanding.  On the basis of the inspired record we believe that it was a real and intense experience.  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 224)


The reality of the temptation and the severity of the situation is compared with that of the first one.  Both were tempted by Satan.  But the difference in the gravity of the test appears from the following threefold contrast:

  1. Nowhere in Gn 3:1-7 do we read that the OT Adam had gone without food for any length of time.  Jesus, on the contrary, had been fasting for forty days.  He was famished.
  2. Even had the father of the human race been hungry, he could have easily satisfied that hunger, for he had been told, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat” (Gn 2:17).  No such provision had been made for Christ.
  3. Eve’s husband, when tempted, had, as it were, everything in his favor, for he was living in paradise.  Jesus, at the time of his temptation, was staying in this horrible wilderness!  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 226-27)


The first Adam had failed God by disobeying; the second Adam would surrender himself to the will of God in perfect obedience.  Gerhardsson suggests that this temptation and the following two correspond to the three ways of loving God as charged in the Shema (Dt 6:4; 11:13-21; Nm 15:37-41; heart, soul, strength) and expanded in the Mishnah (The Testing of God’s Son, 71ff.).  (Robert H. Mounce, New International Biblical Commentary: Matthew, 29)


He had come to do His Father’s will.  A divine “must” ruled His life.  Was He to begin His career by throwing off His allegiance on pretext of trust?  If the Captain of our Salvation commences the campaign by rebellion, how can He lead the rank and file to that surrender of their own wills which is victory?  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 1-8, 82)


Some liberal critics say that for Jesus to really understand humans and to be able to intercede for them, Christ must have experienced sin Himself.  That logic is faulty.  Only the one who has not been blown over in the hurricane knows the full force of the wind.  The one who falls over with a 70 mph gust can never experience the true force of the 200 mph gale.  The fact that Jesus never yielded to any temptation means that only He experienced the full force of what temptation really is.  (Edward Hindson and James Borland, Matthew: The King is Coming, 39-40)


Jesus appeared as the second man, Adam.  He had to face temptation even as Adam and Eve did.  It was His probation.  He could have sinned, just as Adam did, but He depended on God’s provision for His strength and thus did not sin.  This acknowledges the true human nature of Jesus.  He was 100 percent man.  He did not have a sin nature, but a sin nature is not part of true humanity.  Sin is an intrusion into humanity.  Jesus had the original sinless recipe of humanity, just as Adam and Eve did.  (Edward Hindson and James Borland, Matthew: The King is Coming, 40)


Never in all history was there such a fight with temptation as Jesus waged in Gethsemane when the tempter sought to deflect him from the Cross (Lk 22:42-44).  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 65)


The order of the temptation in 1 Jn 2:16 is the same as the serpent’s temptation of Eve in Gn 3:6, where the fruit was (1) good for food, the lust of the flesh; (2) pleasant to the eyes, the lust of the eyes; (3) to be desired to make one wise, the pride of life.  Lk 4:1-13 presents it in the same order as in Genesis and 1 John.  Matthew chooses to present it in what was probably the actual historical order, with the offer of the kingdoms of the world last.  (John F. Walvoord, Matthew: Thy Kingdom Come, 35)


Jesus met temptation as a man, but in dependence on God.  He did not draw on His divine powers.  As our Representative He would not employ powers not at our disposal.  Had Jesus not been conscious that He possessed the power to do the miracles suggested by Satan, they would have constituted no temptation.  (J. Oswald Sanders, Bible Studies in Matthew’s Gospel, 21)


Temptation is not in itself sin.  It becomes sin only when welcomed and harbored.  It reaches us along three main avenues: appetite, the desire to enjoy things; avarice, the desire to get things; ambition, the desire to be somebody.  Jesus was tempted on all these points (Heb 4:15).  In the wilderness He was tempted (a) to act independently of God, and doubt His power to provide; (b) to act presumptuously and not under the leading of the Spirit; (c) to gain the Kingdom by compromise and not by the cross.  (J. Oswald Sanders, Bible Studies in Matthew’s Gospel, 21)


What the tempter was asking Jesus to do was to distrust his Father, and to take matters entirely into his own hands.  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Luke, p. 233)


Picture a tug-of-war.  What usually happens?  At first both teams try their darnedest.  But soon the weaker team discovers who they are, and instead of pulling harder to try to overcome the stronger team, they usually give in, fall backward or forward, and collapse.  Now, let me ask you, who felt the tug more–the winners or the losers?  The winners did.

Or think of two weight lifters.  Let’s say both athletes are trying to lift 500 pounds over their head.  The first pulls the bar off the ground, then quickly up to his knees, but then he drops it after a two-second struggle.  The second lifter also pulls the bar off the ground, up to his knees, but then he lifts it up to his waist and finally, with two great thrusts, up and over his head.  Who knows better the heaviness of those weights?  The point is this: those who resist temptation are those who feel the weight of it most.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 83)


When it comes to temptation solitude can be my greatest enemy.  Along with the saying, “Idleness is the workshop of the devil,” I would add, so too is solitude.  In addition to solitude, if my body is weak (especially due to hunger), I find that it is then that the devil so often comes around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Pt 5:8).  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 85)


When Peter’s flesh was weak, what did he do?  He gave in to temptation.  He slept when his Lord most needed him to pray (26:40, 43, 45), and he lied when his Lord most needed his support (26:69-75).  Or think about Israel in the wilderness.  If they missed a meal, boy, would they grumble.  You would think they grew up in some posh neighborhood.  If they got a little thirsty, they would try to blackmail God–“If you don’t do something, we’re getting rid of Moses and you, and we’re going back to Egypt!”  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 85)


What Adam didn’t do, Jesus did.  What Israel couldn’t accomplish, Jesus accomplished.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 85)


We have at our disposal the same spiritual resources that Jesus used when He faced and defeated Satan: prayer (Lk 3:22), the Father’s love (Lk 3:22), the power of the Spirit (Lk 4:1), and the Word of God (“It is written”).  Plus, we have in heaven the interceding Saviour who has defeated the enemy completely.  Satan tempts us to bring out the worst in us, but God can use these difficult experiences to put the best into us.  Temptation is Satan’s weapon to defeat us, but it can become God’s tool to build us (see Jas 1:1-8, 13-17).  (Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Compassionate: A New Testament Study–Luke 1-13, 41)


We cannot miss comparing the circumstances of Jesus with those of Adam and Eve in Eden when they were similarly tempted.  Adam and Eve were in paradise; Jesus was in the vast, desolate wilderness of Judah.  Adam and Eve were physically content and satisfied.  They were free to eat from any of the trees of the garden, save the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; Jesus was hungry, having fasted for forty days and forty nights.  Adam and Eve were together.  They had each other for company and mutual support; Jesus was alone.  Yet Adam and Eve rapidly succumbed to Satan’s physical and spiritual death, while Jesus stood firm as the Savior who was to bring life and salvation to the race.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1, 55)


The unique lesson of all three temptations for Jesus is that he cannot bypass the road of suffering that eventually will lead to the cross.  Jesus relives the experience of the Israelites, but he succeeds where they failed.  (Hagner 1993:65).  (G. K. Beale and D.  A. Carson, Commentary on the NT Use of the OT, 15)


Today Satan offers us the world by trying to entice us with materialism, sex, and power.  The devil would like us to believe that “life is short, get all you can!”  Even Christian leaders find themselves tempted to build empires here on earth.  But Satan requires people to pay for such success by selling their souls to him.  We must resist temptations in the same way that Jesus did.  If you find yourself craving something that the world offers, quote Jesus’ words to the devil: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”  Then follow that advice, with the support and prayers of Christian friends.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 63)


The devil’s temptations focused on three crucial areas: (1) physical needs and desires, (2) possessions and power, and (3) pride (see 1 Jn 2:15-16 for a similar list).  This temptation by the devil shows us that Jesus was human, and it gave Jesus the opportunity to reaffirm God’s plan for his ministry.  It also gives us an example to follow when we are tempted.  Jesus’ temptation was an important demonstration of his sinlessness.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 56)


Jesus wasn’t tempted inside the temple or at his baptism but in the desert, where he was tired, alone, and hungry, and thus most vulnerable.  The devil often tempts us when we are at our weakest point–under physical or emotional stress (for example, lonely, tired, weighing big decisions, or faced with uncertainty).  But he also likes to tempt us through our strengths, where we are most susceptible to pride.  We guard against his attacks when we start the day with prayer, build our attitudes around the Bible’s truth, and depend on God’s Holy Spirit to keep us from spiritual harm.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 57)


Satan did not doubt Jesus’ sonship nor his ability to turn stones to bread.  Instead, he wanted Jesus to use his power in the wrong way at the wrong time–to use his position to meet his own needs rather than to fulfill his God-given mission.

In later miracles Jesus did supply baskets full of bread, but he supplied them for a hungry crowd, not to satisfy himself.  And he did the miracles in God’s timing for God’s purposes as part of his mission (see 14:13-21; 15:32-39).  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 58)


In all three quotes from Deuteronomy, found in Mt 4:4, 7, and 10, the context shows that Israel failed each test each time.  Therefore, Jesus conveyed to Satan that while the test may have caused Israel to fail, it would not work with Jesus.  Matthew showed the spiritual superiority of Christ over the nation.

Jesus, God’s Son, humbled himself in the wilderness, voluntarily undergoing the trial of extreme hunger in order to learn obedience through suffering.  Jesus came to earth to accomplish the Father’s mission.  Everything he said and did worked toward that goal; nothing could deter or distract him.  Jesus understood that obedience to the Father’s mission was more important than food–no matter what his physical body said, no matter what Satan said.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 58)


To truly accomplish his mission, Jesus had to be completely humbled, totally self-abased.  Making himself bread would have shown that Jesus had not quite set aside all his powers, had not humbled himself, and had not identified completely with the human race.  But Jesus refused, showing that he would use his powers only in submission to God’s plan and that he would depend on God, not his own miraculous powers, for his daily needs.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 59)


IA-   Jesus’ first temptation = Self-gratification


Jesus is distilling the timeless spiritual or moral principle contained in the text of Deuteronomy and applying it to his temptation.  One might imagine the devil retorting, “But the context of Deuteronomy is precisely that of the very kind of miraculous provision of food I am asking you to replicate!”  The point, however, is that the devil is asking Jesus to do it in a context that would break his fast, use his divine power for solely self-serving ends, and demonstrate his unwillingness to depend on his heavenly Father for the strength he needs.  In the Israelites’ wilderness wanderings, the provision of manna created precisely that kind of dependence because the people on their own could not provide for themselves.  (G. K. Beale and D.  A. Carson, Commentary on the NT Use of the OT, 15)


There is more to life than what is “visible and edible, tangible and collectible, bankable and investable.”  To die hungry with the gospel in your heart is to die with the hope of everlasting life.  But to die with your mouth stuffed, your belly filled, but your heart cold to the gospel is to die everlastingly.  Better to die with an empty belly and a full soul than with an empty soul but a full belly.  Do you remember the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man?  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 87)


The most obvious part of the temptation was for Jesus to fulfill His legitimate physical needs by miraculous means.  But the deeper temptation was Satan’s appeal to Jesus’ supposed rights as the Son of God.  “Why,” Satan seemed to say, “should you starve in the wilderness if you are really God’s Son?  How could the Father allow His Son to go hungry, when He even provided manna for the rebellious children of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai?  And had not Isaiah written of the righteous that “His bread will be given him; his water will be sure” (Isa 33:16)?  You are a man, and you need food to survive.  If God had let His people die in the wilderness, how could His plan of redemption have been fulfilled?  If He lets you die in this wilderness, how can you fulfill your divine mission on His behalf?  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 90)


The purpose of the temptation was not simply for Jesus to satisfy His physical hunger, but to suggest that His being hungry was incompatible with His Father’s love, and the Father’s provision.  He had every right, Satan suggested, to use His own divine powers to supply what the Father had not.  The Son of God certainly was too important and dignified to have to endure such hardship and discomfort.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 90-91)


This first temptation in the wilderness implied essentially the same mocking taunt that the crowds made at the crucifixion: “If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross” (Mt 27:40; cf. Vv. 42-43).  It also included the wicked attempt to cause the Second Adam to fail where the first Adam had failed–in relation to food.  Satan wanted Christ to fail because of bread just as Adam had failed because of fruit.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 91)


What Jesus means, therefore, may be paraphrased as follows: “Tempter, you are proceeding upon the false assumption that for a man, in order to appease hunger and keep alive, bread is absolutely necessary.  Over against this erroneous idea I now declare that not bread but the creative, energizing, and sustaining power of my Father is the only indispensable source of my, and of man’s, life and well-being.”  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 227)


The bearing of the words on Christ’s hunger is twofold: First, He will not use His miraculous powers to provide food, for that would be to distrust God, and so to cast off His filial dependence; second, He will not separate Himself from His brethren, and provide for Himself by a way not open to them, for that would really be to reverse the very purpose of His incarnation and to defeat His whole work.  He has come to bear all man’s burdens, and shall He begin by separating Himself from them?  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 1-8, 80)


The source of bread is more important than the bread itself.  Later, Jesus would say, “I have food to eat that you do not know about” (Jn 4:32).  His source of strength was obedience to the Father’s will, and He would not even work a miracle to avoid personal suffering when such suffering was a part of God’s purpose for Him.  What a Savior!  (Edward Hindson and James Borland, Matthew: The King is Coming, 41)


The devil approached with the subtle suggestion that if in fact Jesus were the Son of God, why not use his power to turn the stones that lay scattered about into bread in order to satisfy legitimate hunger?  Had not God provided manna from heaven for the grumbling Israelites (Ex 16)?  Certainly he will provide for his own Son.  (Robert H. Mounce, New International Biblical Commentary: Matthew, 29)


True human life depends not upon the satisfaction of material wants but upon obedience to the divine will.  For Jesus to have turned stones into bread would have been to place personal physical need ahead of obedience and trust in God.  God calls us to a reordering of priorities that places confidence in him as the highest good.  (Robert H. Mounce, New International Biblical Commentary: Matthew, 29)


All of us have desires that God has built into us, desires that are good–needs in our bodies and cravings in our souls.  But God has also created us to look to Him as a good Father who satisfies those desires.  That was the point of the garden of Eden, wasn’t it?  Satan suggested to Adam and Eve that God was withholding good from them, so they decided to fulfill their desire apart from God’s will.  That’s when sin entered the world (Rom 5:12).  (David Platt, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Matthew, 69)


We have desires that are good and God-given, desires for food, water, sleep, sex, relationships, companionship, etc. this is the place where Satan works–at the level of our wants.  You desire food, and he tempts you toward undisciplined overeating.  You desire sleep, and he tempts you toward apathy and laziness.  You desire sex, and he tempts you toward such sins as lust, pornography, adultery, and homosexuality.  And at the core is a desire for self-gratification that says, “God is not providing for me in the way I want, so I will seek my own gratification apart from Him.”  Satan tempts you to fulfill God-given wants apart from God’s will.  (David Platt, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Matthew, 69-70)


Had not God given his people manna in the wilderness?  Had God not said, “I will rain bread from heaven for you”?  Did not the visions of the future golden age include that very dream?  Had not Isaiah said, “They shall not hunger or thirst” (Isa 49:10)?  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 67)


Food, hunger, and eating are good, but the timing was wrong.  Jesus was in the wilderness to fast, not to eat.  And because Jesus had given up the unlimited, independent use of his divine power in order to experience humanity fully, he wouldn’t use his power to change the stones to bread.  We also may be tempted to satisfy a perfectly normal desire in a wrong way or at the wrong time.  If we indulge in sex before marriage or if we steal to get food, we are trying to satisfy God-given desires in wrong ways.  Many desires are normal and good, but God wants you to satisfy them in the right way and at the right time.  True discipleship means learning from Christ how to know the right ways and right times.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 59)


IB-  Jesus’ second temptation = Self-promoting protection


On the top of the roof of the Temple itself there was a stance where every morning a priest stood with a trumpet in his hands, waiting for the first flush of the dawn across the hills of Hebron.  At the first dawn light he sounded the trumpet to tell men that the hour of morning sacrifice had come.  Why should not Jesus stand there, and leap down right into the Temple court, and amaze men into following him?  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 68-69)


This was the very method that the false Messiahs who were continually arising promised.  Theudas had led the people out, and had promised with a word to split the waters of Jordan in two.  The famous Egyptian pretender (Acts 21:38) had promised that with a word he would lay flat the walls of Jerusalem.  Simon Magùs, so it is said, had promised to fly through the air, and had perished in the attempt.  These pretenders had offered sensations which they could not perform.  Jesus could perform anything he promised.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 69)


He who seeks to attract men to him by providing them with sensations has adopted a way in which there is literally no future.  The reason is simple.  To retain his power he must produce ever greater and greater sensations.  Wonders are apt to be nine day wonders.  This year’s sensation is next year’s commonplace.  A gospel founded on sensation-mongering is foredoomed to failure.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 69)


Some scholars believe that Satan wanted Jesus to take advantage of the prophecy in Mal 3:1; the people believed that this prophecy meant that the Messiah would appear suddenly at the temple.  What a spectacular proof of Jesus’ messiahship this would be if he suddenly appeared on the pinnacle of the temple before all the people and then jumped off, only to be carefully placed on the ground by God’s angels.  Surely everyone would believe then.

More likely, however, this temptation did not focus on Jesus proving to the people that he was the Messiah.  Instead, Satan was focusing on Jesus’ relationship with his Father.  Satan wanted Jesus to test that relationship to see if God’s promise of protection would prove true.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 60)


Satan was quoting Scripture out of context, making it sound as though God protects even through sin, removing the natural consequences of sinful acts.  Neither jumping from the roof in a public display or jumping in order to test God’s promises would have been part of God’s will for Jesus.  In context, the psalm promises God’s protection for those who, while being in his will and serving him, find themselves in danger.  It does not promise protection for artificially created crises in which Christians call to God in order to test his love and care.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 60-61)


Jesus quoted from Dt 6:16, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah” (NRSV).  In this passage, Moses was referring to an incident during Israel’s wilderness wanderings, recorded in Ex 17:1-7.  The people were thirsty and ready to mutiny against Moses and return to Egypt if he did not provide them with water.  God supplied the water, but only after the people had “quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’” (NRSV).  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 61)


Divine protection from physical disaster was promised to the faithful in the quotation from Ps 90:11, 12 quoted by the tempter in verse 6.  But when the devil quotes Scripture for his own purpose he rarely quotes it accurately.  So in this instance he significantly omitted the words “to keep thee in all thy ways” after charge concerning thee.  The omission in fact destroys the truth of the original, which does not encourage the faithful to tempt God by taking unnecessary risks, but assures him that God will keep him safe wherever his way may lead, provided, he is obedient to the divine will.  (R.V.G. Tasker, The Gospel According to St. Matthew, 53-54)


He (Satan) tries to induce Him (Jesus) to put God to the test in an idle and self-willed manner by casting Himself down from the temple.  For, as Satan declares, it is written that God will preserve Him by means of His angels.  He quotes the words of Ps 91:11, 12 but omits the words “in all thy ways”.  In this manner he uses the quotation to make it appear as though Jesus would be fully justified in risking His life arbitrarily and then expecting God to protect Him.  (Norval Geldenhuys, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Gospel of Luke, 162)


With that subtle and clever twist, the tempter thought He had backed Jesus into a corner.  If Jesus lived only by the Word of God, then He would be confronted by something from the Word of God.  “You claim to be God’s Son and You claim to trust His Word,” Satan was saying.  “If so, why don’t you demonstrate your sonship and prove the truth of God’s Word by putting Him to a test–a scriptural test?  If you won’t use your own divine power to help yourself, let your Father use His divine power to help you.  If you won’t act independently of the Father, let the Father act.  Give your Father a chance to fulfill the Scripture I just quoted to you.”  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 93)


Sensationalism has always appealed to the flesh, and many people are willing to believe almost anyone or anything as long as the claims are accompanied by fantastic happenings.  Jesus warned that “false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Mt 24:24).  But such dramatic signs, even when they are from God, do not produce faith; they only strengthen the faith of those who already believe.  The many miracles by which God provided for Israel in the wilderness drove many of the people to presumption and great disbelief.  Jesus’ miracles only hardened the opposition of His enemies.  He declared that “an evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign” (Mt 12:39; cf. 16:4).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 94)


Satan used Ps 91:11-12, urging Jesus to “throw Yourself down.”  Again, Jesus replied with Scripture (Dt 6:16) that He was not to “put the LORD your God to the test” by such a presumptuous action.  The very passage of Scripture quoted by Satan actually goes on to promise God’s ultimate victory over him!  Jesus’ use of the Scripture again silences the tempter.  (Edward Hindson and James Borland, Matthew: The King is Coming, 41)


This is a quotation from Dt 6:16, which reflects the situation of the Israelites described in Ex 17:1-7, how at a place called Massah and Meribah they made trial of Jehovah and rebelled against Moses because of lack of water.  They accused Moses of having cruelly brought them, their children, and their cattle, out of Egypt and into the desert, to destroy them all.  They were almost ready to stone him and, instead of in a childlike manner, “making all their wants and wishes known at the Father’s throne,” they insolently and provocatively challenged God, saying, “Is Jehovah among us or not?”  Jesus knows that similar ill behavior on his part, by unnecessarily exposing himself to danger just to see what his Father’s reaction might be, whether the latter would be with him or not, would amount to grievous transgression.  He knows that it has nothing whatever to do with humbly trusting in the protecting care promised in Ps 91.  He therefore very appropriately answers the tempter by quoting Dt 6:16.  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 230)


IC-  Jesus’ third temptation = Self-exaltation.  (Jn 5:19; 8:28; Phil 2:1-11)


Jesus was in effect tempted to subscribe to the diabolical doctrine that the end justifies the means; that, so long as He obtained universal sovereignty in the end, it mattered not how that sovereignty was reached–as though, forsooth, if the means by which an object is sought are corrupt, the object itself will not suffer corruption in the process.  The devil was once again mimicking Scripture.  When Moses on Mount Nebo surveyed the land that lay before him, he was told that this was the land of which God had said to the patriarchs “To your seed I will give it.”  Similarly, the devil presents to the imagination of Jesus, standing on an exceeding high mountain, a vision of the kingdoms of the world which were destined to become “the kingdoms of the Lord and His Christ,” and he offers them to Him without toil or tears or the loss of His own life, on the single condition that Jesus would pay homage to him.  (R.V.G. Tasker, The Gospel According to St. Matthew, 54-55)


The Father promised that Jesus will be King, and we see this clearly in Psalm 2 (“I will make the nations your heritage,” v. 8) as well at the end of Matthew (“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” 28:18), but only if he follows the road to Calvary.  The tempter tempts him to take the shortcut to glory by bypassing Gethsemane and Golgotha.  That’s what all these temptations are about.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 87)


The focus is not on the mountain, but on the kingdoms of the world that were (and are) under Satan’s dominion.  Presently, Satan is “ruler of this world” (Jn 12:31).  Luke records Satan’s words at this temptation as: “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please” (Lk 4:6).  Satan offered to “give” dominion over the world to Jesus.  Satan knew that one day Jesus Christ would rule over the earth (see Phil 2:9-11).  The offer wasn’t evil, but it challenged Jesus’ obedience to God’s timing and will.  Satan’s temptation was, in essence, “Why wait?  I can give this to you now!”  Of course, he would never really give them away because the offer had a catch.  Jesus would have to fall down and worship Satan.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 62-63)


Satan tempted Jesus to take the world as an earthly kingdom right then, without carrying out his plan to save the world from sin.  For Jesus, that meant obtaining his promised dominion over the world without experiencing the suffering and death of the cross.  Satan offered a painless shortcut.  But Satan didn’t understand that suffering and death were a part of God’s plan that Jesus had chosen to obey.  Satan hoped to distort Jesus’ perspective by making him focus on worldly power, not on fulfilling God’s plans.  In addition, Jesus would have to denounce his loyalty to the Father in order to worship Satan.  Satan’s goal always has been to replace God as the object of worship.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 63)


Had not God promised, “I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession” (Ps 2:8)?  The way of obedience is long and difficult.  Why not come to terms with the “god of this age” (2 Cor 4:4; cf. “prince of this world,” Jn 12:31; 16:11)?  Why not compromise just a bit and make the desired end an immediate reality?  (Robert H. Mounce, New International Biblical Commentary: Matthew, 31)


As God’s own proclaimed King of kings, Jesus had a divine right to all kingdoms, and it was to that right that Satan appealed in this last temptation.  “Why should you have to wait for what is already rightfully yours?” he suggested to Jesus.  “You deserve to have it now.  Why do you submit as a Servant when you could reign as a King?  I am only offering you what the Father has already promised.”  Perhaps he reminded Jesus that God had said to the Son, “Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Thine inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Thy possession” (Ps 2:8).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 96)


Satan’s price is always immeasurably more than he leads us to believe.

And what he gives is always immeasurably less than he promises.  For Jesus to have given in to this third temptation would have brought the same ultimate result as His having succumbed to either of the other two.  He would have disqualified Himself not only as King but as Savior.  The statement of those who mocked at the foot of the cross would have had to have been reversed: “He saved Himself; others He cannot save” (see Mt 27:42).  Instead of redeeming the world He would have joined the world.  Instead of inheriting the world, He would have lost the world.  The Christ would have played the antichrist, and the Lamb would have become the beast.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 97)


CONCLUSION/APPLICATION: What can we learn from Jesus that will allow us to also be victorious over the Father of Lies – Satan?:


A-  God’s Word, the truth; and God’s Spirit, the comforter; always trumps the Father of Lies.  (Mt 4:4; see also: Dt 8:3; 32:47; Ps 17:3; 119:11, 103, 105; Mt 6:13; Lk 4:4; Jn 17:17; 2 Tm 3:16-17 – Live in the power of the Spirit – see:  Lk 11:13; 24:49; Jn 5:19; 8:28; 10:10; 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Acts 1:8; Rom 8:1-17, 37; 1 Cor 2:4-5;  15:57; Gal 3:1-5; Col 2:15;  1 Thes 1:5; 2 Tm 2:15; Jas 4:7; 1 Jn 4:1; 5:3-4, 18 – The power and perfection of Jesus’s heart is his being led by God’s Word and Spirit see: Dt 8:3; Ps 119:103, 105; Isa 42:1-2;  Lk 24:49; Jn 4:34; 12:31; Acts 1:8; 1 Pt 2:2)


The reason for this Bible centeredness is obvious: faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom 10:17).  It is by the word that we are born again (1 Pt 1:23-25).  We grow by the “pure milk of the word” (2:2).  We are sanctified by the truth of God’s word (Jn 17:17).  God’s word is profitable and equips us for every good work (2 Tm 3:16-17).  God’s word is “living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword…and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12).  It is the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17).  It is the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16; cf. 1 Cor 2:4; 1 Thes 1:5).  It performs its work in us (2:13).  It is “like fire…and like a hammer which shatters a rock” (Jer 23:29).  It does not return void, God says, “without accomplishing what I desire, / and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it” (Isa 55:11).  (Philip Graham Ryken, Give Praise to God A Vision for Reforming Worship, 275)


If you are seeking Jesus, if you want to come to faith, be admonished by this earnest Scripture: “Then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word…lest they should believe” (Lk 8:12).  Whatever temptation there may be, either from the world or in your own heart, remember to always keep and cling to the Word.  Do not let the Devil take it away from you.  Let the precepts and promises of the Word be your meditation day and night.  “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col 3:16) (Andrew Murray; How to Strengthen Your Faith, 83)


Just as a human baby has two parents, so a spiritual baby has two parents–the Word of God and the Spirit of God.  Warren Wiersbe, Be Mature, 15)


Victory in spiritual warfare, for Christ as well as the Christian, comes from a Spirit-enabled hearing and use of the scriptures.  (Charles H. Talbert, Reading Luke, 46)


Note the expression, “It is written,” not only here in verse 4 but also in verses 7 and 10, every time with a reference to the same book, Deuteronomy, which, as is clear, Jesus regarded not as “a pious fraud” but as the very Word of God.  Other passages that give expression to Christ’s exalted view of Scripture are Lk 24:25-27, 44-47; Jn 5:39; and 10:35.  For him the OT Scriptures, as interpreted by himself, were evidently the ultimate touchstone of the truth for life and doctrine, the final court of appeal for the reason.  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 227)


The longer I continue in full-time Christian service, the more I see of evangelism and of that which goes under the name of evangelism, the more convinced I become of that power that resides only and exclusively in the naked Word of God, and to all of those involved in the ministry of the gospel, and especially those working among people with little or no religious background, I would issue this impassioned cry: ‘Never put yourself into the position where you have to evacuate the message in order to accommodate the method!’  Unless the Word of God is there, unless your work has about it the authoritative ring of scriptural truth, unmixed with the glamor, glitter and gimmickry of so many modern methods, you have no warrant for claiming for your efforts the promise that ‘Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ’ (Rom 10:17).  It is the Word of God alone that is the instrument of the new birth.  (John Blanchard, Truth for Life, 68)


Here is one among many reasons why we ought to be diligent readers of our Bibles: the Word is the “sword of the Spirit” (Eph 6:17); we shall never fight a good fight if we do not use it as our principal weapon.  The Word is the “lamp” for our feet (Ps 119:105); we shall never keep the King’s highway to heaven if we do not journey by its light.  It may well be feared that there is not enough Bible-reading among us.  It is not sufficient to have the book; we must actually read it, and pray over it ourselves.  (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries: Matthew, 19)


If you isolate verses from their contexts, or passages from the total revelation of Scripture, you can prove almost anything from the Bible.  Almost every false cult claims to be based on the teachings of the Bible.  When we get our orders from God by picking out verses from here and there in the Bible, we are not living by faith.  We are living by chance and tempting the Lord.  (Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Compassionate: A New Testament Study–Luke 1-13, 44)


Satan is perfectly able to use Scripture to make his point.  It is, however, what Filson calls “a pious-sounding misuse of Scripture” (p. 70).  (Robert H. Mounce, New International Biblical Commentary: Matthew, 30)


Satan’s deceptive use of Scripture disregards context and twists the words of God so as to make them imply something God never intended.  How often this same procedure is repeated today in order to provide an apparent justification for personal prejudice!  (Robert H. Mounce, New International Biblical Commentary: Matthew, 30)


In this reply, Jesus introduced an important principle of sound Bible study, which is not only to trust the Word of God implicitly and absolutely (that is what the first temptation was about) but to interpret Scripture with Scripture, never taking a verse out of context but rather interpreting it by use of other verses or the Bible as a whole.  This is what the Protestant reformers called “the analogy of faith,” meaning that Scripture interprets itself (Scriptura sui interpres).  The Westminster divines expressed it well when they said, “The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly” (The Westminster Confession of Faith, 1, xi).  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1, 57)


Here is Jesus–the holy Son of the almighty God, the one in whom neither Satan nor man could find any wrong or gain even the tiniest foothold.  Jesus’ eyes were always on the glory of his Father.  He lived in the closest possible communion with him.  But if Jesus, you Lord and Savior, needed to know Scripture in order to resist Satan and win the victory over him, how much more do you and I need it to win a corresponding victory!  We must know it word for word.  You say, “Well, I have a general idea of what the Bible is about.”  That is a start, but it is not enough.  You must know the Bible well and have key parts of it memorized if you are to overcome temptation.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1, 59)


Knowing and obeying God’s Word is an effective weapon against temptation, the only “offensive” weapon provided in the Christian’s “armor” (Eph 6:17).  Jesus used Scripture to counter Satan’s attacks, and you can too.  But to use it effectively you must have faith in God’s promises because Satan also knows Scripture and is adept at twisting it to suit his purpose.  Obeying the Scripture is more important than simply having a verse to quote, so read them daily and apply them to your life.  Then you “sword” will always be sharp.  (Bruce B. Barton, D.Min., Life Application Bible Commentary: Luke, 87)


What a sobering thought that Satan knows Scripture and knows how to use it for his own purposes!  Sometimes friends or associates will present attractive and convincing reasons why you should try something that you believe is wrong.  They may even find Bible verses that seem to support their viewpoint.  Study the bible carefully, especially the broader contexts of specific verses, so that you understand God’s principles for living and what he wants for your life.  Only if you really understand what the whole Bible says will you be able to recognize errors of interpretation when people take verses out of context to make them say what they want them to say.  Choose your bible teachers carefully.  Believers have much to learn from others.  Capable and wise teachers often present the broader context to help stimulate growth in Bible knowledge.  (Bruce B. Barton, D.Min., Life Application Bible Commentary: Luke, 90)


God never intended that any one should wrestle with evil without the power of the Spirit.  Indeed, in the sight of God no man is really a normal person unless he is filled with the Holy Ghost and lives by His power.  As the Ideal and Perfect Man, Jesus was completely at one with the Spirit.  Armed thus, He won the battle.  (Norval Geldenhuys, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Gospel of Luke, 164)


Here, as throughout the Gospels, we see how Jesus acknowledges the absolute authority of the Word of God and maintains it as guiding principle of His life as Man.  What is written therein gives to Him the final, conclusive answer.  So He does not argue with the devil, but again and again repels him unconditionally by means of a single pronouncements from God’s Word.  (Norval Geldenhuys, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Gospel of Luke, 161)


It is a common temptation of Satan to make us give up the reading of the Word and prayer when our enjoyment is gone; as if it were of no use to read the Scriptures when we do not enjoy them, and as if it were no use to pray when we have no spirit of prayer. The truth is that in order to enjoy the Word, we ought to continue to read it, and the way to obtain a spirit of prayer is to continue praying. The less we read the Word of God, the less we desire to read it, and the less we pray, the less we desire to pray. (George Muller in A Narrative of Some of the Lord’s Dealings with George Muller).


B-  Testing is a revelatory good from God, not an evil from Satan.  You will be tested and the testing is for your benefit and understanding and not for God.  (Gn 22:1ff; Ex 20:20; Dt 8:1-3; Ps 26:2; 139:23; Prv 17:3; Mt 26:39-42; Rom 8:2-8; 2 Cor 12:7-10; 13:5-7; Gal 6:4; 1 Thes 5:21; 1 Jn 2:15-16; 4:1)


“The genuine can be tested and God will test it so that its genuineness can be proved.”  (Steve Brown;  Living Free, 67)


My temptations have been my masters in divinity.  (Martin Luther quoted by Rick Warren; The Purpose Driven Life, 201)


The life which is unexamined is not worth living. ~ Plato


Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord. ~ Lam 3:40 (Patrick Morley; The Man In The Mirror, 36)


Whether the testing is for a good or evil purpose depends on the intent of the one giving the test.  When the scriptural context clearly indicates the testing is an enticement to evil, the word is most frequently translated by a form of the English tempt, which carries that negative connotation.  The fact that the devil was here doing the testing clearly indicates that Jesus was being tempted, enticed to do evil.

Yet God often uses Satan’s tempting to evil as His own means of testing for good.  What Satan intended to lead the Son into sin and disobedience, the Father used to demonstrate the Son’s holiness and worthiness.  That is God’s plan for all of His children.  Christians cannot be tempted in a way that God cannot use for their good and His glory.  James even tells us to “consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials [peirasmos], knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (Jas 1:2-4).  That is God’s plan and purpose–to use Satan’s temptations as a means of testing and strengthening our faith I Him and of our growing stronger in righteousness.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 87-88)


An old black woman in the Deep South put suffering in proper perspective when she said, “If the mountain was smooth, you couldn’t climb it.”  Everything God has caused or allowed in your life is for your good–to draw you into a deeper love relationship with him.  Your sufferings are not merely setbacks.  They are also springboards to the crucial task of knowing God well enough that you can trust him.  We must learn to interpret the mysteries of life in the light of our knowledge of God.  Until we can look the darkest fact full in the face without damaging God’s character, we do not yet know him as he is. (Patrick Morely; Ten Secrets for the Man in the Mirror, 74)


We do not have to look far to see the application to our own lives.  The siren song of popular culture is to avoid pain and take the easy way, the path of least resistance.  But God’s Word still speaks truly: “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tm 3:12).  Jesus embraced the cross by refusing the easy way, and as his followers, he says, we must do the same: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Mt 16:24, 25).

If we embrace the logic of Jesus’ refusal to take the easy way, we will see that taking the path of least resistance, to follow comfortable expediency, is idolatry–it is worshiping a false God.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Luke, Vol. One, 136)


B1-  Our sinful nature is vulnerable to Satan’s attack.  We need to know our weakness.  (Acts 5:1-9; 1 Cor 7:2-5; 1 Tm 3:6-7; 6:9-10; Jas 1:13-15Know yourself and your weaknesses (see: Ps 26:2; 139:23; Jer 11:20; 12:3; 17:9;  Lam 3:40; Mt 18:8-9; 26:41; 1 Cor 7:2-5; 2 Cor 2:9; 8:8; 13:5-7; Gal 6:4; 1 Thes 5:21; 1 Tm 6:9-10; Jas 1:13-18; 1 Pt 4:12; 1 Jn 2:16)


Normal desires, such as hunger, can also be the starting point of temptation if they are allowed to control our actions.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary; James, 24)


If a test becomes a temptation, it is sinful human nature that makes it so.  God does not “tempt anyone; but each one is tempted…by his own evil desire” (1:13-14).  (Daniel M. Doriani, Reformed Expository Commentary: James, 35)


One of the most important considerations when addressing temptation is to understand the proper purpose for anything we face.  Said in another way, what does God want for us in a situation?  A right understanding of the way in which our bodies are created will give us a clear understanding of how much chocolate we eat, or what kind of sexual relationship to have, or whether or not we talk about a person behind her back, or anything else we encounter.  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 166-67)


Many of us pray, Lord make me stronger and stronger so I can become more patient and less vulnerable to sin. When in reality we need to ask the Lord to make us weaker and weaker.  It is US that is the problem.  Why in the world would we want to make US stronger.  We should instead want to kill the sinful nature in us.  Think about when you are least likely to think lustful, sinful thoughts.  It is not when you are strong and life is going well.  It is when you are fasting or when you are sick with mono or some other terrible disease that weakens us.   It is when we are weak that helps to kill the sexual, sinful desires in you.   We should therefore be concerned with asking the Lord to make us weaker and weaker, not stronger and stronger. — Pastor Keith


Careful attention to our actions should be followed by regular, serious reflection on them.  This will lead us to repentance, confession and forgiveness.  But it will also help us to reinforce and strengthen our resolutions, and learn to resist and reject temptations that have previously defeated us.  Even though it was not a Christian who first suggested it, it is good advice to review and examine all the activities of a day before we go to sleep at night.  This will give us comfort for what we have done right and correction for what we have done wrong.  It will also turn the shipwrecks of one day into markers directing our voyage the next day.  This could even be called the art of godly living.  This practice would contribute greatly to our growth in holiness. (Henry Scougal and Robert Leighton; God’s Abundant Life, 67)


This is not unimportant, for the only way Jesus could have been tempted was from an outside force and not internally.  When we are tempted, we are assailed by an enemy within as well as by temptations from without.  In fact, as James says, “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed” (Jas 1:14).  We are tempted by our fleshly natures, as well as by the world and the devil.  Jesus, who had no sinful nature, could only be tempted from something outside himself, which is what happens in this account.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1, 55)


The very power of the devil lies in the fact that he breaches our defenses and attacks us from within.  He finds his allies and his weapons in our own inmost thoughts and desires.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 65)


When Adam and Eve were tempted in the garden, Satan used as the source of his temptation that he could make Adam and Eve “like God” . . . the very thing that God designed and created them to be and the very thing that God desires to restore in us (Rom 8:29-30; 1 Pt 1:1-4) — Jean Porter 8-7-12


Hunger has nothing to do with right or wrong.  It asserts itself independent of all considerations.  In itself neutral, it may, like all physical cravings, lead to sin.  Most men are most tempted by fleshly desires.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 1-8, 78)


Your temptation will always be at the point of your weakness.  (Steve Brown message,  “A Baffling Baptism” from Mt 3:13-17)


“In our members there is a slumbering inclination towards desire which is both sudden and fierce.  With irresistible power, desire seizes mastery over the flesh.  All at once a secret, smoldering fire is kindled.  The flesh burns and is in flames.  It makes no difference whether it is sexual desire or ambition or vanity or desire for revenge or love of fame and power or greed for money or , finally, that strange desire for beauty of the world, of nature.  Joy in God is . . . extinguished in us and we seek all our joy in the creature.  At this moment God is quite unreal to us, he loses all reality, and only desire for the creature is real; the only reality is the devil.  Satan does not fill us with hatred for God, but with forgetfulness of God . . .   The lust thus aroused envelopes the mind and will of man in deepest darkness.  The powers of clear discrimination and of decision are taken from us.” ( Dietrich Bonhoffer; Temptation as quoted by Chuck Swindoll; The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart, 566)


We must always remember that again and again we are tempted through our gifts.  The person who is gifted with charm will be tempted to use that charm “to get away with anything.”  The person who is gifted with the power of words will be tempted to use his command of words to produce glib excuses to justify his own conduct.  The person with a vivid and sensitive imagination will undergo agonies of temptation that a more stolid person will never experience.  The person with great gifts of mind will be tempted to use these gifts for himself and not for others, to become the master and not the servant of men.  It is the grim fact of temptation that it is just where we are strongest that we must be for ever on the watch.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 66)


The source of temptation often rests in human desires (Jas 1:13f.) e.g., desire for riches (1 Tm 6:9) or for sexual experience (1 Cor 7:2, 5); and physical weakness can make one more vulnerable to temptation (Mt 26:41).  (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Vol. Four, 784)


Heb 4:15 cannot mean, however, that the psychological process involved in being tempted was exactly the same for Jesus as it is for men in general.  For the latter, including believers, there is first, the tempting voice or inner whispering of Satan, urging them to sin.  But there is also the inner desire (“lust”) goading the tempted one to give heed to the devil’s prompting.  Thus man, being “drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire” (Jas 1:14) sins.  With Christ the case was different.  The outward stimulus–outward in the sense that it did not originate in the Lord’s own soul but was the voice of another–was there, but the inner evil incentive or desire to co-operate with this voice from without was not.  Nevertheless the temptation–that is, the sense of need, the consciousness of being urged by Satan to satisfy this need, the knowledge of having to resist the tempter, and the struggle to which this gave rise–was real even for Christ.  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 223)


Men ought to be capable of noticing God’s handiwork with the female form with perfect innocence.  They can have a detached admiration, much as a visitor to an art gallery has a detached admiration for a still-life painting of fruit on a table.  But many men have difficulty with such detachment.  Approval of beauty becomes desire for beauty, and desire for beauty becomes lust for beauty.  Where does the fault lie?  With the beauty created by God and tended by the woman?  No, it lies with the man, who so readily turns approval to lust.  A well-appointed home and a well-engineered car are similar.  I can admire a well-constructed touring sedan or I can covet it.  Physical beauty and automotive excellence are good in themselves.  Yet if we add selfish desire to them, they can become occasions for sin.  (Daniel M. Doriani, Reformed Expository Commentary: James, 35-36)


There would be no attraction of sin were it not for man’s own sinful lust, which makes evil seem more appealing than righteousness, falsehood more appealing than truth, immorality more appealing than moral purity, the things of the world more appealing than the things of God.  We cannot blame Satan, his demons, ungodly people, or the world in general for our own lust.  Even more certainly, we cannot blame God.  The problem is not a tempter from without, but the traitor within.  (John MacArthur, MacArthur NT Commentary: James, 50)


One of the most significant ways we resist the work of God for our growth toward becoming “mature and complete” is that we blame factors outside of ourselves for our sin.  (George M. Stulac, The IVP NT Commentary Series: James, 56)


What would it take for you to “sell out”?  What is there in life that would cause you to compromise your faith?  Whatever it is–sexual temptation, financial inducement, fear of alienating or offending someone–it will be placed in your path at some point.  The enemy wants to destroy believers or at least neutralize them through sin, shame, and guilt.  When that temptation rears its seductive head, do what Jesus did; rely on the Word of God, and stand fast in your commitment to worship God, and God alone, above all else.  No matter the cost or the sacrifice, no matter how appealing the come-on, believers dare not put anything or anyone in his place.  (Bruce B. Barton, D.Min., Life Application Bible Commentary: Luke, 88)


Often we are tempted not through our weaknesses, but through our strengths.  The devil tempted Jesus where he was strong.  Jesus had power over stones, the kingdoms of the world, and even angels, and Satan wanted him to use that power without regard to his mission.  When we give in to the devil and wrongly use our strengths, we become proud and self-reliant.  Trusting in our own powers, we feel little need of God.  To avoid this trap, we must realize that all our strengths are God’s gifts to us, and we must dedicate those strengths to his service.  (Life Application Study Bible, Tyndale House, Wheaton, IL, 1991, 1799)


At every point, I am prone to sin.  My mind is susceptible to wandering, and I am tempted to think unmentionable thoughts when I see an attractive woman who is not my wife.  My heart is bent toward pride, and I am tempted to compete with other pastors over who is more spiritual and more successful.  I am tempted to cut moral corners in order to gain personal advantage over others.  I am prone to pretense and hypocrisy, tempted to lie to make myself look better, and to call people to do what I am not willing to do myself.  I am prone to value appearance over authenticity, my wants over other people’s needs, and I am prone to desire the glory that is due God alone.  I am keenly, if not frighteningly, aware that one wrong look, one inappropriate meeting, one rash decision, one fleeting moment could wreak spiritual havoc on my life, my family, and my church.  I have the potential of bringing untold disgrace on my God.  (David Platt, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Matthew, 64)


The story is told of a man who was trying to teach his dog obedience.  He would take a large piece of meat and put it in the middle of the floor.  Each time the dog attempted to take the meat the man would swat the dog and say, “No.”  Soon the dog began to associate the swatting with the word no and learned to stop simply when the word was said.  When meat was placed on the floor the dog would not look at it but rather at his master, waiting for his word of approval or denial.

That is essentially the message God teaches in this passage: “When temptation comes, don’t look at the temptation but at Jesus Christ.  Keep your eyes on His example and do what he did.  Look at the ways He was tempted and at the way He resisted, and learn from Him.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 99)


Benedict of Nursia (c. 480-543) sought an increase of grace and exemption from temptation by wearing a rough hair shirt and living for three years in a desolate cave, where his scant food was lowered to him on a cord.  Once he threw himself into a clump of thorns and briars until his body was covered with bleeding wounds.  But he found no escape from temptation.  It followed him wherever he went and in whatever he did.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 84)


Chapter V – Of Providence

  1. The most wise, righteous, and gracious God, doth oftentimes leave for a season his own children to manifold temptations, and the corruption of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption, and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled; and to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends. (Westminster Confession of Faith, 33-38)

B2-  When we push, test, tempt or challenge God we reveal our lack of faith in Him.  (Ex 17:1-7; Isa 7:12; Acts 5:1-9; 1 Cor 10:9)


Trials are the means by which our faith is tested. (Alistair Begg sermon, “When Trials Comes: part 2”)


He does not for a moment waver in His trust in God and is not going to put Him to the test–for, indeed, he who tests God in this fashion proves thereby that he does not trust Him completely.  Our Lord does not point out to the devil his omission of the words “in all thy ways”, nor does He argue with him, because He knows that he is false and full of deceit.  So He again turns him away uncompromisingly with a single pronouncement from God’s Word.  He quotes the words of Dt 6:16: “Ye shall not tempt the Lord your God” (changing the plural number to the singular).  “To tempt” here means “to subject to a test or trial”, or perhaps “to see how far one can go with someone”.  (Norval Geldenhuys, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Gospel of Luke, 162-63)


The devil is well aware that God exists, and I don’t think he spends time dissuading us from a belief in God.  If we read the biblical record, his basic strategy is to make us believe that God is not trustworthy.  The basic lie is that we cannot trust God, for He wants to take all the fun out of life.  (Lloyd J. Ogilvie, The Communicator’s Commentary: Luke, 84)


It was that absolute trust and submission that Satan sought to shatter.  To have succeeded would have put an irreparable rift in the Trinity.  They would no longer have been Three in One, no longer have been of one mind and purpose.  In his incalculable pride and wickedness, satan tried to fracture the very nature of God Himself.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 91)


God’s people are never justified in complaining and worrying about their needs.  If we live by faith in Him and in obedience to His Word, we will never lack anything we really need.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 91)


The words come from Dt 6:16 and refer to the time when Moses struck the rock in order to get water to satisfy the grumbling Israelites (Ex 17:1-7).  It is not our prerogative to place God on trial.  Faith is simple trust, not “doubt looking for proof” (Barclay, Vol. 1, 69).  (Robert H. Mounce, New International Biblical Commentary: Matthew, 31)


Don’t tell God when and how your desires should be fulfilled; trust God to fulfill your desires in His way according to His Word.  Trust that God your Father is good, and realize that any attempt to satisfy your wants apart from His will ultimately leads not to delight, but to destruction.  As soon as Adam and Eve had eaten the fruit, they realized what they had done, and everything–around them, within them, and between them–changed for the worse.  What they thought would lead to delight led to destruction.  (David Platt, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Matthew, 70)


Jesus knew He had no reason to test the Father.  It’s no wonder, therefore, that Jesus’ message to us repeatedly in the book of Matthew is, “Don’t worry” (6:25, 31).  (David Platt, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Matthew, 71)


Those who acclaimed Jesus only because of His miracles and impressive words later turned against Him.  When the crowd from Galilee, astounded by Jesus’ multiplying the bread and fish, tried to make Him king, He would have nothing of it (Jn 6:14-15).  Those who scattered their garments before Jesus and waved palm branches in His honor as He came into Jerusalem did so because He had raised Lazarus from the dead (Jn 12:13, 17-18).  A short while later Jesus hid Himself from the Jerusalem crowd, about whom John says, “But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him” (Jn 12:37).  Demanding sensational proof is not evidence of faith but of doubt.  To long for the visible sign, the big miracle, the dramatic proof is nothing but masked unbelief.  It is the farthest thing from faith.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 94)


For at least two reasons Jesus refused to take part in a spectacle such as throwing Himself off the Temple roof.  First, any sensationalism inevitably is frustrated by the law of diminishing returns.  People are never satisfied.  They always want one more sign, one more miracle, one more show.  To have maintained His influence over the people by the use of miracles, Jesus would have had to produce greater and greater sensations.  Because the natural, carnal heart can never be satisfied, this year’s miracle would have become next year’s bore.  His followers would only have been lovers of sensation, not lovers of God.

Second, and more significant, no matter how noble and important we may think our reasons are, to test God is to doubt God.  And to doubt God is not to trust Him, and not to trust Him is sin.  That, of course, is what Satan wanted Jesus to do.  To induce Jesus to sin, if that were possible, would shatter His perfect holiness, and therefore shatter His divinity and man’s hope of salvation.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 94-95)


Those who willingly put themselves in the way of danger and temptation often end up blaming God when harm comes from their foolishness.  When the Lord confronted Adam about his eating the forbidden fruit, Adam’s response was to blame God even more than he blamed his wife.  “The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate” (Gn 3:12).  It was true that Eve gave Adam the fruit, but because God gave Eve to Adam, the primary blame was God’s–according to Adam’s perverted logic.  Our need is not to prove God’s faithfulness but to demonstrate our own, by trusting Him both to determine and to supply our needs according to His own will.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 95)


It is wrong to test God by demanding that he rescue us or provide for us in ways that we stipulate.  God is sovereign and omniscient and knows when it is best to allow us to go through difficult experiences and when it is better to keep us from them.  In this light, the “health and wealth” gospel (or “name it and claim it” approach to prayer) errs almost as much as Satan did!  “The security which God brings is something to be accepted in humble trust, not something to be used for personal aggrandizement” (Davidson 1998: 305).  (G. K. Beale and D.  A. Carson, Commentary on the NT Use of the OT, 16)


Satan may tempt us to doubt Christ’s true identity.  He knows that once we begin to question whether or not Jesus is God, it’s far easier to get us to do what he wants.  Times of questioning can help us sort out our beliefs and strengthen our faith, but those times can also be dangerous.  If you are dealing with doubt, realize that you are especially vulnerable to temptation.  Even as you search for answers, protect yourself by meditating on the unshakable truths of God’s Word.  (Life Application Study Bible, Tyndale House, Wheaton, IL, 1991, 1799)


B3-  The more we give in to temptation the less likely we are to repent and reform.  (1 Tm 4:1-2; Heb 3:8-9)


Solomon tells us that the eyes of man are never satisfied (Pv 27:20).  One more lustful look or one more piece of pie never satisfies.  In fact, quite the opposite takes place.  Every time we say yes to temptation, we make it harder to say no the next time.  (Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness, 95)


Sow a thought, reap an act.  Sow an act, reap a habit.  Sow a habit, reap your character.  Sow your character, reap your destiny.  (Charles R. Swindoll, James: Practical and Authentic Living, 37)


Christian living is a matter of the will, not the feelings.  I often hear believers say, “I don’t feel like reading the Bible.”  Or, “I don’t feel like attending prayer meeting.”  Children operate on the basis of feeling, but adults operate on the basis of will.  They act because it is right, no matter how they feel.  This explains why immature Christians easily fall into temptation: they let their feelings make the decisions.  The more you exercise your will in saying a decisive “No” to temptation, the more God will take control of your life.  “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phil 2:13).  (Warren Wiersbe, Be Mature, 39)


You may be tempted to surrender just a token sin or some minor fault, while allowing your most serious iniquity to remain entrenched and well-hidden.  Let us realize, therefore, that the energies we expend in keeping our sins secret are the actual “materials” of which a stronghold is made.  The demon you are fighting is actually using your thoughts to protect his access to your life.  (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 32)


Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer. — John Bunyon


There will be opposition in your life if you are a Christian.   “If you didn’t meet the Devil today, then you probably are headed in the same direction.”  STEVE BROWN


Yielding to temptation is like getting shocked with electricity.  If you catch enough of the amperage of electricity it can get to the point where you can no longer let go (as per my experience in the Guitar Gallery).


The fourth remedy against this device of Satan, is seriously to consider, That there is great danger, yea, many times most danger, in the smallest sins.  “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (I Cor 5:6).  If the serpent wind in his head, he will draw in his whole body after.  Greater sins do sooner startle the soul, and awaken and rouse up the soul to repentance, than lesser sins do.  Little sins often slide into the soul, and breed, and work secretly and undiscernibly in the soul, till they come to be so strong, as to trample upon the soul, and to cut the throat of the soul.  There is oftentimes greatest danger to our bodies in the least diseases that hang upon us, because we are apt to make light of them, and to neglect the timely use of means for removing of them, till they are grown so strong that they prove mortal to us.  So there is most danger often in the least of sins. (Thomas Brooks; Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, 42)


Demon Uncle Screwtape speaking to under-ranking demon Wormwood on getting his patient to sin:

You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness.  But do remember, the only thing that mattes is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy.  It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing.  Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick.  Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts. (C. S. Lewis; The Screwtape Letters by, 56)


B4-  Temptations reveal what needs to be renewed to become mature.  (Prv 17:3; 27:21; Eccl 3:18; Jas 1:2-4; 1 Pt 1:6-7)


Mature Christians are the end-product of testing.  (Douglas J. Moo, Tyndale NT Commentaries: James, 61)


When the fight begins within himself, A man’s worth something.”  (Browning, “Bishop Blougram’s Apology”)


Adversity makes men, and prosperity makes monsters. —Victor Hugo (Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations, 1523)


And yet, temptations can be useful to us even though they seem to cause us nothing but pain.  They are useful because they can make us humble, they can cleanse us, and they can teach us.  All of the saints passed through times of temptation and tribulation, and they used them to make progress in the spiritual life.  Those who did not deal with temptation successfully fell to the wayside. — Thomas á Kempis


“A season of suffering is a small price to pay for a clear view of God.” —Max Lucado


When push comes to shove, we will seldom disappoint ourselves.  We all harbor greater stores of courage than we think.  Adversity brings the opportunity to test our mettle and discover for ourselves the stuff of which we are made. (Jeff Salz, Reader Digest, 02/01, 32)


For us all, as for Christ, it is true that, though God does not tempt as wishing us to fall, He does so order our lives that they carry us into places where the metal of our religion is tried.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 1-8, 77)


What we call temptation is not meant to make us sin; it is meant to enable us to conquer sin.  It is 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 emerge stronger and finer and purer from the ordeal.  Temptation is not the penalty of being a man, temptation is the glory of being a man.  It is the test which comes to a man whom God wishes to use.  So, then, we must think of this whole incident, not so much the tempting, as the testing of Jesus.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 63)


Most of our school tests are designed primarily to reveal what knowledge the students already have in them.  The biblical concept of a testing, as James uses it here, is one that does reveal the genuineness of the person’s faith; but James says the test is also designed to develop something that is not yet present in full measure in the person.

This is why, for the one who wants to live by faith, the trial can be a time for rejoicing.  How many people today suffer in trials of many kinds, thinking that the issue is whether they have the faith to pass the test?  The spiritual reality is that God will use the trial to develop something that they admittedly do not yet possess.  James says, “Rejoice in that prospect!”  (George M. Stulac, The IVP NT Commentary Series: James, 36-37)


We must also be on guard at the level of our minds.  We train our minds to keep watch over our emotional desires.  Instead of rationalizing temptations, we prepare in advance to oppose them with God’s Word, just as Jesus did in the wilderness.  Paul therefore admonishes, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2).  Especially helpful in this regard is the apostle’s advice to the church at Philippi: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (Phil 4:8; cf. Col 3:2).  It is not incidental that the first and greatest commandment includes loving God not only with our hearts and souls but also with our minds (Mt 22:37).  The writer of Psalm 119 memorized the truth of Scripture to strengthen his mind against temptation (vv. 9-11).  (John MacArthur, MacArthur NT Commentary: James, 53)


The Jews had a saying, “The Holy One, blessed be his name, does not elevate a man to dignity till he has first tried and searched him; and if he stands in temptation, then he raises him to dignity.”  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 62-63)


James invites you to envision yourself in the state of spiritual maturity, rid of the jealousy or laziness or impulsiveness or impatience or bitterness or self-pity or selfishness that now mars the wholeness of your fellowship with God and the completeness of your spirituality.  Do you hunger and thirst for righteousness?  Do you long to be fully the person God desires you to be?  If so, then you now have the full reason for considering it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds.  The trials can be opportunities for testing to develop in you the perseverance which, when it finishes its work, will leave you mature in Christ!  For those who have set their hearts on becoming Christlike, this is wonderful reason for pure joy.  (George M. Stulac, The IVP NT Commentary Series: James, 38-39)


Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet.  Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved. — Helen Keller


“Trials will either turn you into gold or cinders” — Tim Keller

God prepares great men for great tasks by great trials.  —J.K. Gressett  (Patrick Morley, The Man In The Mirror, 290)


There is no tribulation or temptation whose limits God has not appointed so as to serve not for our destruction but for our salvation.  God is faithful says the Apostle, and will not permit you to be tempted (or afflicted) beyond your strength, but it is necessary for you to be so, since through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God in the steps of our Redeemer who said of Himself, Did not the Christ have to suffer all these things before entering into his glory?  If you refused to accept these tribulations you would be acting against your best interests.  You are like a block of marble in the hands of the sculptor.  The sculptor must chip, hew and smooth it to make it into a statue that is a work of art.  God wishes to make us the living image of Himself.  All we need to think of is to keep still in His hands while He works on us, and we can rest assured that the chisel will never strike the slightest blow that is not needed for His purposes and our sanctification; for, as St. Paul says, the will of God is your sanctification.  (Father Jean Baptiste, Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence, 31-33)


John MacArthur sites eight purposes for the Lord’s allowing trials to come into the lives of His people:


1-   To test the strength of our faith (Ex 16:4; Dt 13:3-4; 2 Chron 32:31; Job 42:5-6; Hab 3:17-18; Lk 14:26).

2-   To humble us, to remind us not to let our trust in the Lord turn into presumption and spiritual self-satisfaction (2 Cor 12:7).

3-   To wean us from our dependence upon worldly things (Ex 2:11-25; Jn 6:5-6; Heb 11:24-26).

4-   To call us to eternal and heavenly hope (Rom 5:3-4; 8:18-25; 2 Cor 4:14, 16-18; Phil 1:23-24).

5-   To reveal what we really love (Gn 22; Dt 10:12; 13:3; Mt 22:38-39; Lk 14:26).

6-   To teach us to value God’s blessings (Ps 63:3-7; Heb 11; 12:2).

7-   To develop in His saints enduring strength for greater usefulness (Isa 41:10; 2 Cor 12:10; Heb 11:33-34).

8-   To enable us to better help others through their trials (Lk 22:31-32; 2 Cor 1:3-6; Heb 2:18; 4:15) (John MacArthur; The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: James, 17-20)


The various hardships and afflictions that meet Christians in the world can produce spiritual perfection (v. 4) and lead to God’s reward (v. 12) if they are endured in faith.  However, they can have a harmful effect if met with the wrong attitude.  One such wrong attitude, James suggests, is to blame God for the enticement to sin that accompanies trials.  The OT makes clear that God does test his people, in the sense that he brings them into situations where their willingness to obey him is tested.  ‘God tested Abraham’ when he ordered him to sacrifice his son Isaac (Gn 22:1), he tested Israel by leaving them surrounded by pagan nations (Jdg 2:22) and he tested King Hezekiah by leaving him to his own devices in his reception of the Babylonian envoys (2 Chr 32:31; cf. 2 Kgs 20:12-19).  But while God may test or prove his servants in order to strengthen their faith, he never seeks to induce sin and destroy their faith.  (Douglas J. Moo, Tyndale NT Commentaries: James, 72)


It is crucial for us to remember always that God tests people for good; he does not tempt people for evil.  Even during temptation we can see God’s sovereignty in permitting Satan to tempt us in order to refine our faith and help us grow in our dependence on Christ.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary; James, 22)


Obviously, we can avoid many temptations simply by avoiding places and situations where we know they are most likely to occur.  We don’t read magazines or books, watch movies or TV programs, associate with friends, or go places where we know our emotions will be aroused to any sort of enticement to sin.  Instead, we make sure that we are exposed to things that feed our emotions in godly ways.  We not only gain positively and directly from the spiritual benefit of those things, but the godly joy we receive from them makes the ungodly things less attractive and even repulsive.  (John MacArthur, MacArthur NT Commentary: James, 53)


Our values determine our evaluations.  If we value comfort more than character, then trials will upset us.  If we value the material and physical more than the spiritual, we will not be able to “count if all joy.”  If we live only for the present and forget the future, then trials will make us bitter, not better.  Job had the right outlook when he said, “But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).  (Warren Wiersbe, Be Mature, 23)


Faithfulness without temptation to infidelity is not true faithfulness.  Faith without temptation of doubt is not true faith.  Purity without temptation to impurity is not true purity. (Paul Tournier; Guilt & Grace, 45)


C-  Temptation is a Spiritual Battle.  (Mt 16:23; 18:8-9; Mk 8:33; Lk 17:1-2; 2 Cor 2:11; 11:14; Gal 5:16-17; Eph 4:25-27; 6:10-18; Col 3:5; 2 Tm 2:22; Jas 4:6-7; 1 Pt 5:8)


Let us recognize before we do warfare that the areas we hide in darkness are the very areas of our future defeat.  Often the battles we face will not cease until we discover and repent of the darkness that is within us.  If we will be effective in spiritual warfare, we must be discerning of our own hearts; we must walk humbly with our God.  Our first course of action must be, “Submit…to God.”  Then, as we “resist the devil…he will flee” (James 4:7).  (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 16)


Spiritual warfare is the blood, sweat, and tears of dying to one’s self and listening to God.  (David Powlison,  Power Encounters: Reclaiming Spiritual Warfare, 119)


“Christians fight spiritual warfare by repentance, faith and obedience.”   (David Powlison,  Power Encounters: Reclaiming Spiritual Warfare, 36)


We should be prepared to fight when we are most weak.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 86)


The armor described in 6:10-20 is the armor that God himself wears, just as the power is God’s own power.  As we have noted before, New Testament spiritual warfare deepens Old Testament warfare.  When Jesus resisted the devil in the desert, he fought spiritual warfare as found in Deuteronomy.  In Ephesians spiritual warfare occurs in the Isaiah mode.

Each of the pieces of armor is rooted in the OT, mainly Isaiah.  Note that the Messiah girds his loins with the truth by fearing God and walking in the power and wisdom of the Spirit (11:5).  The LORD God puts on the breastplate of righteousness to deliver his people from bondage to sins (59:17).  The LORD himself comes–his feet shod–bearing good news of peace to those captivated in sin and judgment (52:7).  In the one piece of weaponry not rooted in Isaiah the LORD himself is the shield behind which faith takes refuge from enemies.  The LORD wears the helmet of salvation as he brings deliverance from the power of sin and gives his Spirit and Word (59:17).  The sword of the spirit is God’s Word and proceeds from the mouth of the Messiah, the Servant who will deliver the nations from the power of darkness (49:2).

Prayer is the way all this happens, for prayer relies on the Lord.  To take up the armor is to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” in order not to be captivated to the flesh, as Paul puts it in Romans 13:14.  To take up the armor is simply to live in Christ.  (David Powlison, Power Encounters:  Reclaiming Spiritual Warfare, 113-14)


He who flees temptation should not leave a forwarding address.


Opportunity knocks only once; temptation leans on the doorbell.


We must realize that it is not Satan who defeats us; it is our openness to him.  To perfectly subdue the devil we must walk in the “shelter of the Most High” (Ps 91:1).   Satan is tolerated for one purpose: the warfare between the devil and God’s saints thrust us into Christlikeness, where the nature of Christ become our only place of rest and security.   God allows warfare to facilitate His eternal plan, which is to make man in His image. (Francis Frangipane; The Three Battlegrounds as quoted in Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word, 323)


For effective victory over Satan believers must recognize that on the basis of the work of Christ Satan is a defeated foe.  They are called upon to take a firm stand against the devil.  “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (Jas 4:7).  Any attempt to flee from the devil would be useless, but in claiming the victory of Christ man can put the devil to flight.  In order to experience victory over Satan believers cannot remain “ignorant of his designs” (2 Cor 2:11).  Recognizing that he is a powerful and crafty foe, they must “give no opportunity to the devil” by allowing sin in their lives (Eph 4:25-27).  Instead, they must “be sober, be watchful,” alert to the danger from the devil, and firmly resist him in faith (1 Pet 5:8, 9).  Eph 6:10-17 repeatedly stresses the need to take a firm stand against the satanic enemy.  (The Zondervan Pictoral Encyclopedia of the Bible Q-Z, 285)


To prevent these satanic strategies from succeeding, Christians need to employ several counterstrategies.  (1) They must keep themselves purposefully occupied, since idleness leads to sin and the devil’s accusations (1 Tm 5:13-15).  To counter Satan’s role as accuser of God’s people, (2) church discipline must never be so harsh as to imply the impossibility of forgiveness (2 Cor 2:6-11), and (3) only persons with a good reputation should be appointed to church office (1 Tm 3:2f., 7).  (4) To avoid temptation through lack of self-control, husbands and wives should not abstain too long from conjugal relations (1 Cor 7:5).  (5) New Christians, no matter how promising their gifts, should not be given responsible positions in the church, since Satan works to incite the inbred human tendency to self-exaltation (1 Tm 3:6).

The essence of Satan’s strategy, however, is to weaken a Christian’s faith in such precious and great promises as, e.g., Rom. 8:38 (“in everything God works for good with those who love him”), by means of the lie that the tribulations and misfortunes that befall Christians can deprive them of any hope for a bright future (1 Thes 3:2-5).  Satan’s game plan is to destroy the Christian’s confidence that God’s plans are “for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer 29:11).  So to be victorious against Satan, Christians must understand the necessity of being armed with “the shield of faith” i.e., of having an arsenal of promises from God’s word (cf. Rom 10:17) ready for use as a shield to quench all the fiery darts of Satan (Eph 6:16).  According to 1 Pet. 5:9 Christians must resist the devil steadfastly in the faith.  Since the promises of Scripture are the proper object of faith (Rom 4:20), Christians must use, against each temptation to become discouraged, at least one of God’s “many and very great promises” (2 Pt 1:4).  If tempted, e.g., to be covetous and despondent about not having enough of this world’s good s to be financially secure, the Christian must “fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Tm 6:12) by affirming that, since God will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5f.), covetousness is totally contrary to childlike faith in God.  By meditating on this and similar promises of “the faithful God” (Dt 7:9; cf. Heb 10:23; Ti 1:2) until filled by “all joy and peace in believing” (Rom 15:13), Christians perform the essential task of holding their “first confidence firm unto the end” (Heb 3:14).  (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Volume Four: Q-Z, 343)


Resisting Temptation

Be in the Word–Ps 119:9, 11

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word…I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

Be in Prayer–Lk 22:40

“…pray that you will not fall into temptation.”

Be Transparent–Jas 5:16

“Confess your sins to each other.”

Be Steadfast–Ps 51:10

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Be Firm–1 Cor 16:13

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith.”

Be Sure to Resist the Enemy–Jas 4:7

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Be Swift to Run–1 Cor 10:12-13

“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you do not fall! 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. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

Be Accountable–Gal 6:1

“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.”

Be Dressed for Battle–Eph 6:10-18

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes…”

Be Cautious about Friends–1 Cor 15:33

“Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’”


God could have removed Satan by incarcerating him immediately at the moment of his fall, but he is using him to train His future co-rulers.

“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame; and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Rv 3:21, 22).  This is why Jesus said that He has given believers authority over all power of the enemy (Lk 10:19).

To many of us, Satan is invincible.  Not so.   He is only a created being.  Learning progressively in time to overcome Satan is the primary qualification for rulership in eternity.  This is why God looked for a man to overcome Satan instead of doing it Himself.  This also explains why God permits Satan to contest the believer—to give him exercise in overcoming. (Paul E. Billheimer;  Destined to Overcome, 64)


But if we are to win the battle on the stage of human history, it will take a prior commitment to fighting the spiritual battle with the only weapons that will be effective.  It will take a life committed to Christ, founded on truth, lived in righteousness and grounded in the gospel.  It is interesting to note that all of the weapons which Paul lists up to this point are defensive.  The only offensive weapon mentioned is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Francis A. Schaeffer; The Great Evangelical Disaster, 25)


“If you want an easy time as a Christian, all you have to do it to get far away from Jesus Christ — move away to the periphery of the battle.  If you are out there, Satan is not going to bother you much.   That is where he wants you.   However, if you draw close to the Lord, as Paul wished to do, and join with Him in the battle, then Satan’s arrows will start coming at you.  The battle will be hard.  And you will find it necessary to use God’s weapons for the conflict.”  (James Montgomery Boice; Commentary on Philippians: 3:13-14, 230)



We are commanded to “resist” the devil, to take a stand against him, now!  Those intent on submitting to God ask, “how?”

TACTICS          God has not left us without battle plans.  Here are some of his instructions:

Refuse to accept Satan’s suggestion that we can be                     Rom 8:38-39

separated from Christ.

Ignore the temptation to doubt God’s grace.                               1 Jn 3:19-24

Reject the lie that we are beyond forgiveness.                             1 Jn 1:9

Pray before, during, and after attacks by the devil.                      Phil 4:4-7; 1 Thes 5:16-24; Jas 1:2-8

Allow Christ to replace our way of thinking with his                  Phil 2:5-8; 4:8-9;

way of thinking.                                                                       Rom 12:1-2


WEAPONS       While the devil employs weapons of terror and illusion,

God equips us with weapons of real power.  They are

only ineffective when we leave them unused.  Among

them are:

The belt of truth–wherever the truth is spoken and                      Eph 6:14; Jn 8:32;

lived, the devil is unwelcome.                                                  14:6; 17:17

The breastplate of righteousness–living rightly is                       Eph 6:14; Heb 5:12-

the result of advanced training in the faith.  When we                 14; 1 Pt 2:12

are living under God’s guidance we are on guard

against the devil’s attacks.

The footwear of the gospel of peace–communicating                   Eph 6:15; Mt 24:14;

the gospel is taking back territory controlled by the                    Rom 1:16


The shield of faith–our faith in Christ makes him                        Eph 6:16; Heb 11:1;

our shield and protector.                                                          1 Pt 1:3-5

The helmet of salvation–the salvation that God offers                  Eph 6:17; 1 Thes 5:8-

is our eternal protection.                                                           9; Rom 1:16

The sword of the Spirit, God’s Word–the Bible is a                    Eph 6:17; 2 Tm 3:16;

weapon when its truth is put to use, exposing the devil’s          Heb 4:12

work and helping those who are losing the battle.

Prayer–in prayer we rely on God’s help.                                     Eph 6:18-20; Heb 4:16; Jas 5:13-16

(Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary; James, 102-03)


“Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.”  In the Christian warfare there is no release.  Sometimes people grow worried because they think that they should reach a stage when they are beyond temptation, a stage at which the power of the tempter is for ever broken.  Jesus never reached that stage.  From the beginning to the end of the day he had to fight his battle; that is why he can help us to fight ours.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 65)



D-  In Christ, we have the power to defeat Satan’s temptations. But we must know God and the Devil. (Isa 28:16; Mt 6:33; 15:18-19; Mk 14:38; 26:39-42; Lk 10:18; 22:31-32, 40, 46; Jn 10:10, 28; 12:31; 14:30-31; 16:11, 33; Rom 8:31-39; 13:14; 16:20; Gal 5:24; 1 Cor 10:13; Eph 1:20-23; 6:10-18; Col 2:15; Phil 4:19; Heb 2:17-18; 4:14-16; 12:1-2; 1 Pt 5:8-9; 1 Jn 4:4; 5:18; Rv 20:3-10Know the Devil and his schemes Job chs. 1-2; Zech 3:1-10; Mk 8:32-33; Lk 17:1-2; 2 Cor 4:3-4; 11:14;  Eph 1:20-23; 2:2; 2 Thes 2:7-9; 1 Tm 4:1-2; 2 Tm 3:11-12; 1 Pt 5:8; 1 Jn 5:19 – Look to Jesus for a healthy heart  Jn 14:30-31; 16:33; Rom 8:31-39; 16:20; 2 Thes 2:7-9; Heb 2:16-18; 4:14-16; 12:1-2; 1 Jn 4:4)


Should we practice spiritual disciplines?  Yes, we should.  But we should do so with the recognition that these disciplines are primarily means of polishing the armor that God has provided, so that we see his power more clearly (Rom 13:12).  Practicing these habits in order to overpower Satan by our own discipline and diligence actually makes us more spiritually vulnerable.  We don the armor of God by faith, repenting of our own weaknesses and believing that each element of divine protection can resist the assaults of Satan as God has promised.  (Bryan Chapell; Holiness by Grace, 155)


In the account of Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness we see the prince of the forces of darkness in all his fiendish cunning and determination intent upon causing the failure of God’s plan of redemption.  But we thank God that we also see how our Redeemer, even under the most adverse circumstances (spiritually as well as physically) emerges from the conflict as the spotless and Holy One as well as triumphant Conqueror.  And how wonderful it is to know that this conflict and victory of His took place not merely for His own sake.  Therefore we know that through Him we also are conquerors and that we must display this fact in practice for the glory of God.  (Norval Geldenhuys, The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Gospel of Luke, 163)


Thanks to the power of God’s Spirit, he has become the first of a new humanity, the leader of the faithful among the people of God.  Because he has won the victory and has poured out the Spirit (Acts 2:33), his followers have the possibility of similar victory in their spiritual warfare.  (Charles H. Talbert, Reading Luke, 47)


To use Paul’s words, “We are counted as sheep to be slaughtered,” yet “we are more than victorious through Him who loved us” (Rom 8:36-37).  (David Platt, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Matthew, 73)

Self-reliance is not the way to holiness, but the negation of it.  Self-confidence in the face of temptation and conflicting pressures is a sure guarantee that some sort of moral failure will follow.  (J. I. Packer; Rediscovering Holiness, 92)


First, Jesus resisted these great temptations as a real man.  “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Heb 2:18).  We can call upon Christ in times of temptation, for he is at our side.  When Martin Luther was asked how he overcame the devil, he replied, “Well, when he comes knocking upon the door of my heart, and asks ‘Who lives here?’ the dear Lord Jesus goes to the door and says, ‘Martin Luther used to live here, but he has moved out.  Now I live here.’” When Christ fills our lives, Satan has no entrance.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Luke, Vol. One, 138)


The expression, “Be gone, Satan,” a command which was obeyed (see v. 11), not only shows Christ’s abhorrence of the devil’s proposal, but also his supremacy over him.  The answer reflects Dt 6:3.  It also reveals the sharp contrast between Christ, who is ever doing what his Father wants him to do (Jn 5:30; 6:38), and Satan, whose purpose is the exact opposite (Gn 2:17, cf. 3:4; Zech 3:1, 2; Jn 8;44; 1 Thes 2:18; 1 Pt 5:8; 1 Jn 3:8; Rv 12; 20:8, 9); and who is true to the meaning of the name whereby Jesus here addresses him, adversary.  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 234)


“The devil…departed from him.”  In his battle against Jesus and his church Satan loses (Gen 3:15; Job 1:6-12, 20-22; 2:1-10; 19:23-27; 42:10-17; Jn 10:28; 16:33; Rom 8:31-39; 16:20; I Cor 15:55-57; Rv 12:7 f.; 20:1-3, 10).  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: Luke, 240)


Hunger not only makes us physically weak but also tends to weaken our moral and spiritual resistance as well.  When we are tired, hungry, or sick we are usually less concerned about other needs and dangers and tend to be vulnerable to anything that might provide relief from our present distress.  Satan therefore usually attacks most fiercely in such times of weakness and unpreparedness.  Temptations that have been anticipated, guarded against, and prayed about have little power to harm us.  Jesus tells us to “keep watching and praying, that you may not come into temptation” (Mk 14:38).  Victory over temptation comes from being constantly prepared for it, which, in turn, comes from constantly relying on the Lord.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 89)


When tempted, turn to God for strength by a short prayer, make a phone call to a Christian friend, or find a quiet place to pull out your Bible and read a psalm.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 64)


The NT admonishes Christians to resist temptation in three main ways.  (1) Paul urged each Christian to practice self-examination: “Look to yourself lest you too be tempted” (Gal 6:1).  Such self-examination should lead to the avoidance of situations in which temptation becomes stronger than one can bear.  (2) In the Lord’s Prayer (Mt 6:13) Jesus admonished Christians to pray that they not be led into temptation.  In Gethsemane He chided the disciples for sleeping when they should have been in prayer so that they could withstand temptation (Mt 26:41; Lk 22:40, 46).  (3) Hebrews pictures Christ as having faced the same temptations as other human beings but as not having fallen into sin (Heb 2:18).  This uniquely equips Him to help those who are being tempted.  Thus Christians are encouraged to turn to Christ, who will provide help in time of temptation.  (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Vol. Four, 784)


Say to yourself, “If I can just get through this, if I can just say ‘be gone’ like Jesus did, or run out of the room as Joseph did with Potiphar’s wife, then the devil will gain no foothold.”  But if you give him an inch, stay in the room longer by than you should, or toy with the temptation, then watch out.  He’ll have you by the heel, then the leg, then the heart.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 89)


Because fallen man’s problem is internal, the solution to his problem must be internal.  There is no external ritual, ceremony, rite, profession, or action that can change his basic evil nature.  He cannot become righteous by trying to act righteously or talk righteously.  He needs an entirely new heart, a new nature, a new being.  He needs to be re-created, changed from his old nature of sin and death to a new nature of holiness and life, for without holiness, or sanctification, “no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14).  (John MacArthur, MacArthur NT Commentary: James, 58)


The new birth results from God’s sovereignly coming down to a sinner and by His grace cleansing him, planting His Spirit within him, and giving him a completely new spiritual nature.  He then has “put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph 4:24).  (John MacArthur, MacArthur NT Commentary: James, 61)


In regeneration, God gives birth to a new spiritual life.  Regeneration is a miracle of God by which the principle of new life is implanted in man and the governing disposition of his soul is made holy.  This is the new birth, being born again (cf. Jn 3:3-8; Eph 2:5-6; 1 Pt 1:23; cf. Ez 36:25-27).

In Christ believers actually “become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pt 1:4).  The new birth is unseen by any human eye but is able to be experienced by any human heart that turns to God through faith in Christ.  (John MacArthur, MacArthur NT Commentary: James, 62)



God gives us these resources during temptation:


  • His presence. “He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Dt 31:6; see als Heb 13:5).
  • His model–Jesus. “For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.  Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Heb 2:17-18).
  • His guidance. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Ps 119:105).
  • His mission for our life that keeps us directed. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Heb 12:1).
  • His other people with whom we share encouragement. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more a syou see the Day approaching” (Heb 10:24-25).
  • His forgiveness when we fall and fail. “If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn 1:9).  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary; James, 23-24)


Worship Point: When you begin to understand that Jesus left His glory in heaven to come to earth to be severely and brutally tested in order to vicariously live the life we were supposed to live; you will worship.


Gospel Application:  See the Good News:  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.  Hebrews 4:15


The enemy’s quiver is empty.  He feels that he has met more than his match, so he skulks from the field, beaten for the first time by having encountered a heart which all his fiery darts failed to inflame, and dimly foreseeing yet more utter defeat.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 1-8, 85)


Spiritual Challenge:  Learn from Jesus how He trusted God to beat Satan.  Do not be ignorant of Satan’s devices.  Look to Jesus and the Spirit of God for the power, encouragement, resources and inspiration to live victoriously over the temptations and testing of the Devil.


God expects a man to take risks in order to be true to him, but he does not expect him to take risks to enhance his own prestige.  The very faith which is dependent on signs and wonder is not faith.  If faith cannot believe without sensations it is not really faith, it is doubt looking for proof and looking in the wrong place.  God’s rescuing power is not something to be played and experimented with, it is something to be quietly trusted in the life of every day.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 69)


Satan tempted Christ to advance the work of God by spectacular and obviously worldly means, which is exactly what many evangelicals are doing today when they try to impress people with so-called “signs and wonders” or by entertainment reminiscent of television.  We cannot accomplish invisible spiritual work by outward worldly means.  At the same time, the devil’s suggestion was also a temptation to spiritual presumption, to demand a supernatural sign from God in response to an action he had neither encouraged nor commanded.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1, 56-57)


Jesus’ temptation also shows that our spiritual victories may not always be visible to the watching world.  Above all, it shows that we must use the power of God to face temptation and not try to withstand it in our own strength.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 55)


We are always better off to obey God and to trust in His gracious sustenance than to impatiently and selfishly provide for ourselves in ways that disobey, or in any way compromise, His Word.  Underlying our readiness to justify much of what we do is the common but self-centered and carnal notion that, as God’s children, we deserve the earthly best and that it is inappropriate and even unspiritual to be satisfied with anything less.  Grabbing or demanding what we think we deserve may be an act of rebellion against sovereign God.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 92)



Our basic sin against God is mistrust.  The devil hints that God is withholding something from us and he suggests ways in which we can take care of ourselves and get what is our due.  (Lloyd J. Ogilvie, The Communicator’s Commentary: Luke, 85)


It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self: to Jesus: but Satan’s work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ.  He insinuates, “Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of his children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus.”  All these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within.  But, the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self: he tells us that we are nothing, but that “Christ is all in all.”  Remember, therefore, it is not your hold of Christ that saves you—it is Christ; it is not your joy in Christ that saves you—it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument—it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to your hand with which you art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to your hope, but to Jesus, the source of your hope; look not to your faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith.  We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul.  If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by “Looking unto Jesus.”   Keep your eye simply on him; let his death, his sufferings, his merits, his glories, his intercession, be fresh upon your mind; when you wake in the morning look to him; when you lie down at night look to him.  Do not let your hopes or fears come between you and Jesus; follow hard after him, and he will never fail you. (Alistair Begg quoting Charles. H. Spurgeon in Pathway to Freedom, 228-29)


His (Satan’s) meanness consists especially in this, that he first tempts a man into sin.  Then, when the tempted one follows his advice, the tempter becomes the accuser!  Moreover, he will even continue to accuse the fallen one after the latter’s sin has already been forgiven (Zech 3:1-05; Rv 12:10).  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 225)


At the same time Jesus’ hunger introduces us to a number of ironies to which Matthew more or less explicitly alludes.  Jesus is hungry (v. 2) but feeds others (14:13-21; 15:29-39); he grows weary (8:24) but offers others rest (11:28); he is the King Messiah but pays tribute (17:24-27); he is called the devil but casts out demons (12:22-32); he dies the death of a sinner but comes to save his people from their sins (1:21); he is sold for thirty pieces of silver but gives his life a ransom for many (20:28); he will not turn stones to bread for himself (4:3-4) but gives his own body as bread for people (26:26).  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 112)


After all, when I am perfectly satisfied, then what can tempt me?  When I am perfectly loved, then what else do I desire?  When I am eternally secure, then what can threaten me?  (Bryan Chapell; Holiness by Grace, 109)


For great insights on how looking to Christ can empower us to rid ourselves of the attraction of temptations see Thomas Chalmers’ sermon “The Explusive Power of a New Affection” available online.


When we’re honest, we have to recognize that every day in a thousand different ways we are all tempted to make ourselves the center of the universe.    (Alistair Begg sermon, Saying No To Slander)


There are many good things that God will give us even in this life.  No one desires our happiness more than our heavenly Father.  “If you then, being evil,” Jesus says, “know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Mt 7:11).  We can have the happiness God gives; why should we settle for the cheap substitute Satan proffers?  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 97-98)


If we would turn every doubt into greater faith, the Devil would soon stop allowing things that cause us to doubt to come into our view.  If we would turn every temptation into greater obedience and devotion to Christ, the Devil would soon stop allowing us to be tempted in any way at all. — Keith Porter contemplating Rom 4:18-25 (3-14-11)


Quotes to Note:

But the test was even more subtle than that, for Satan was asking Jesus to separate the physical from the spiritual.  In the Christian life, eating is a spiritual activity, and we can use even our daily food to glorify God (1 Cor 10:31; Rom 14:20-21).  Whenever we label different spheres of our lives “physical,” “material,” “financial,” or “spiritual,” we are bound to leave God out of areas where He rightfully belongs.  Christ must be first in everything, or He is first in nothing (Mt 6:33).  It is better to be hungry in the will of God than satisfied out of the will of God.  (Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Compassionate: A New Testament Study–Luke 1-13, 41)


Recall the great and noble words of Scripture–“Now are we the sons of God, and it doth not appear what we shall be; if sons [children], then heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ” [1 Jn 3:2; Rom 8:17].  There is substance in that talk; it is not a colored vapor, it is the substance of the soul’s distinct recognition of certain divine securities which God has promised never to withdraw from the faithful and loving soul.  Can you cry “Abba, Father”?  Can you ever with your soul’s tenderest trust say “God is my Father”?  Then, never let the devil write his big and hideous if upon your faith.  Fatherhood like God’s does not change with the wind; this divine relationship is not a question of the barometer; this acceptance on the part of the divine Father is not a question of your physical sufferings and moods and indigestions and numerous infirmities.  Remember that you built your house upon a rock, and do not suppose any fog can overthrow it.  (Joseph Parker, The Inner Life of Christ, Studies in Matthew 1-7, 99)


Let us learn that we must not think temptation a strange thing.  “No servant is greater than his master” (Jn 13:16).  If Satan came to Christ, he will also come to Christians.  (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries: Matthew, 19)


Suspicion may be the beginning of ruin.  Suspect your sonship and you are undone at once.  For a moment begin to wonder if you are really a child of God, and the battle is half won by the enemy.  (Joseph Parker, The Inner Life of Christ, Studies in Matthew 1-7, 998)


Jesus chose to live a life of suffering obedience to the Father instead of sinful submission to Satan, and in the end, all authority in heaven and on earth was given to Him (Mt 28:18).  (David Platt, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Matthew, 73)


It may well be that we often go wrong simply because we never try to be alone.  There are certain things which a man has to work out alone.  There are times when no one else’s advice is any good to him.  There are times when a man has to stop acting and start thinking.  It may be that we make many a mistake because we do not give ourselves a chance to be alone with God.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 63-64)


He was tempted like us yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:15


Victor Over


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