The Gospel of Matthew: The Lust of the Flesh Temptation.

And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” (Matthew 4:3–4 (ESV)

Being fully confident of the Lord’s truth, however, Jesus never gave in to Satan’s lies,” Dr. Sproul concludes.

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).

Temptation’s core purpose is to not only disbelieve (Gen. 3:1-3), but also to deny what God has said (Gen. 3:4) resulting in disobedience. 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).  

There are three areas of temptations. They are implicit not only in the Genesis account, but also Matthew 4 and Luke 4. 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.

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.”

Today’s text highlights the temptation of the lust of the flesh. It is the lust of fulfilling the cravings caused by physical and bodily desires. Hunger, sex, and freedom from pain are all examples of this solicitation when fulfilling them violates God’s Word and will.

Hunger is not sinful but gluttony is ((Number 11:18-34Psalm 78:26-31). . Heterosexual sex between a husband and his wife is not sinful, but any other type of sexual behavior is (I Thess. 4:1-8). Freedom from pain, whatever form it may be, can result in ingested or injected intoxicants to alleviate the pain resulting in a dulling of the senses but possible addiction (Prov. 20:1; I Cor. 6:12-13; 10:23-33; Eph. 5:18).

The devil tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread; in order to alleviate His hunger (Matt. 4:1-2). While this would not be a temptation for normal human beings, because we lack the power to turn stones into bread, it was a real temptation for Jesus. Being God (John 1:1-4), He could turn stones into bread.

The devil’s ploy was for Jesus to prove that He was the Son of God. However, in so doing He would be violating the will of God the Father. The ultimate purpose for Jesus’ temptations were to prove that He could not sin. To give into the devil’s request, would violate that purpose; resulting in sin. This Jesus could not, and would not do.

“The first test pertained to the matter of Sonship. Satan assumed that if He (Jesus) were the Son of God, perhaps He could be persuaded to act independently of the Father. Satan’s test was subtle for since Jesus is the Son of God, He has the power to turn the stones all around Him into bread. But that was not the will of His Father for Him. The Father’s will was for Him to be hungry in the desert with no food. To submit to Satan’s suggestion and satisfy His hunger would have been contrary to God’s will,” commentator Louis A. Barbieri, Jr. explains.  

How did Jesus respond to this temptation? He quoted Scripture appropriate to the particular temptation. The quoted text was Deuteronomy 8:3, which is contained in today’s text. While satisfying physical hunger is not necessarily sinful, it can be if satisfying one’s hunger violates God’s Word. The greater satisfaction is to fill one’s soul with the Word of God.

“Jesus therefore quoted Deuteronomy 8:3, which affirms that man does not live on bread alone, but by God’s Word. It is better to obey God’s Word than to satisfy human desires. The fact that Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy showed that He recognized the inerrant authority of that book, one often criticized by scholars,” Barbieri concludes.

“Temptation invites a man or woman to take something that is good, when for some reason the person tempted does not have the right to that good thing or cannot, at that moment, use it properly. When Jesus did not drink, He got thirsty. When He ate nothing for forty days, He grew hungry. He knew He could use His powers selfishly, to turn those stones to bread, but He refused. Both the temptation and the response fit the fabric of Jesus’ life, a real human life. As a man, Jesus was susceptible to temptation (Hebrews 4:14-16),” commentator Daniel M. Doriani states. As God, He would not, and could not, comply.

Today, ask Jesus to provide you the strength to resist the devil; knowing he will flee (James 4:7). Jesus has already provided us the example.

Soli deo Gloria!

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