“1Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.” (Matthew 4:1–2 (ESV)
Temptations began in Genesis 3:1-7. They are solicitations to disobey God; either in our thinking, speaking or behavior. Although God never tempts anyone (James 1:13), they are included in God’s plan for lives (I Cor. 10:13). Temptations occur from the fallen world system, our remaining sinful nature (the flesh), and the devil (Eph. 2:1-3).
“If we overcome temptations, we are strengthened. If we succumb, we recognize more clearly our need for further sanctification,” explains Dr. R. C. Sproul.
Temptation’s core purpose is to not only disbelieve what God has said (Gen. 3:1-3), but also to deny what He has said (Gen. 3:4) resulting in disobedience. Temptations involve a lack of trust, commitment, dependence and worship of God when we give in to them. An individual does not sin when tempted. It is only when the individual gives in to the temptation that sin occurs (James 1:12-15).
The temptation of Jesus parallels the testing of Israel in the wilderness. The forty days for Jesus corresponds to the forty years for Israel (Num. 14:34). Israel’s experience foreshadowed Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness following His baptism.
“At Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit commissioned Him for ministry (Matt. 3:16–17). What was Christ’s first act? Matthew 4:1 gives us the answer: “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Of all the things that our Lord could have done after His baptism, He undertook a grueling temptation by Satan in the wilderness. Anyone who is the least bit familiar with the biblical storyline cannot help but think of Adam’s temptation in the garden when they read of our Lord’s encounter with the devil,” states Dr. Sproul.
There are three areas of temptations. They are implicit in not only the Genesis account, but also Matthew 4 and Luke 4. The Apostle John explicitly refers to them in I John 2:15-17 where he writes, 15 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
The three areas of temptation are the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. They involve our physical drives, the desire for possessions and a sense of entitlement.
“Jesus underwent a test that was similar to Adam’s, but it was actually far more difficult. Adam met Satan in paradise, where life was easy. Jesus met Satan in the desert wilderness where the environment was hardly friendly. Adam enjoyed the company of his wife, Eve. Jesus was alone. Adam was well fed from the trees of Eden. Jesus was fasting. In short, Adam failed even though he had everything going for him, but Jesus succeeded even though, humanly speaking, the odds were stacked against Him (Gen. 3; Matt. 4:1–11). Like Adam, Jesus was tempted to disbelieve God’s Word, to pit one part of it against another and to think that the Father was not telling Him the whole story. Being fully confident of the Lord’s truth, however, Jesus never gave in to Satan’s lies,” Dr. Sproul concludes.
In which of the three areas of temptation are you most susceptible? Pray that Lord would give you the strength to resist and not succumb.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Soli deo Gloria!