THE FIRST TEMPTATION OF JESUS
Please read the above passage before reading this message. We have very much to learn from Satan's temptations of Jesus. He was tempted in all points like as we are. His divine nature was not involved this temptation, only His human nature. Jesus used no miraculous power to resist the devil. He was tempted strictly as a human being like one of us. He showed us how to overcome Satan and the best possible way to stand up against this malignant enemy of man. If you will study the temptation of Christ, you will not be ignorant of Satan's devices. If you see how He worsted the enemy with the same powers that all human beings possess, you will learn what weapons to use against this great adversary. If you see how Jesus conquered throughout the battle, you will learn that, as you keep close to Him, you will be more than a conqueror through Jesus who loved you. From the Lord's temptation we learn, especially, to pray, "Lord, lead us not into temptation." Let us never mistake the meaning of that petition. We are to pray that we may not be tempted, for we are poor, weak creatures of flesh and blood. The body is rebellious, and it will take its pleasures any way it can find them, be they right or wrong. It is for us to diligently petition God, "Lord, lead us not into temptation." But, if we must be tempted, and we will, we should pray, "Deliver us from this evil," or as some render this petition, "Deliver us from the evil one."
The first wonderful truth we learn from the Lord's first temptation is that the existence of Satan, also called the Devil, is not a mythological belief. The word devil is found five times in Luke 4:1-13, and Jesus had a personal conversation with this famous biblical character. By meeting this great enemy of mankind and defeating him in a personal conflict, He has removed all doubts forever about the Bible teachings on the existence of Satan. By this meeting and conversation with the Devil Jesus has verified as true all the Bible says about this powerful being. The temptation of Jesus settles this question forever. He does exist, and he will tempt us all. Time will permit in this message to give only a few biographical facts about this fearful being. He belongs to the angelic order of beings. The devil is a created angel, but he was not created an evil. . He is consistently represented in the Old Testament and New Testament as the enemy of both God and man. He sinned against God in heaven and was cast out of heaven along with a countless number of other angels. He is described in scripture as the enemy of man and is active in misleading and cursing humanity because of his intense hatred of God. He is now in prison in a place called Tartarus, awaiting the final judgment. Jesus called him the prince or ruler of the world. He ruled the world almost universally from the Garden of Eden till Jesus appeared and began His ministry. Christ came to destroy him and his power on earth. He no longer rules the whole world. The Christian world serves Christ and God It is my considered judgment that Satan's jealousy and hatred of the human race has led him into intenseantagonism with God, and consequently, to all goodness. The temptation of Christ has answered a question that has troubled mankind from the beginning of time, "Is there really a devil who is trying to destroy the human race?" Indeed there is such a being, and the human race would do well to take Jesus at His word. How he has been able to curse the human race with so much evil has not been revealed.
Another magnificent truth the temptation of Christ shows to mankind is the best possible way to defeat Satan in all our conflicts with him. In fact, He showed us the only way we can overcome his influences. The human race cannot escape his temptations. Any temptation to practice any form of evil is a temptation of Satan. The living of the Christian life is an ordeal and conflict between good and evil.. The Holy Spirit had Paul write these words to Christians, "Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the whole armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand"(Ephesians 6:10-13). How he has gained so much control over the human race is a mystery, but he has been successful in turning the human race against God. How he has introduces the principles of evil to mankind is not revealed, but God has told us all we need to know about him.
The Satanic temptation of Christ is a most valuable study for Jesus meets Satan head on. What weapons did He use in this conflict with the great mastermind of evil in this world? He used just one weapon, and it was equal to the whole armor of God Paul described in Ephesians 6. Even more amazing is the fact that Jesus just used three words to answer all of Satan's temptations, and Satan left Him every time. Satan offered no argument. Three times He was tempted, and they were all carefully thought out by a supernatural being. Three times He was tempted, three times He repels the temptation by one simple quotation from the Bible, "It is written, it is written, it is written." Satan cannot stand those words. He used but one weapon against the devil; it was the word of God. He repelled the temptations by saying, "God said." In other words Jesus said to him, "You said, but God said." He charged Satan with contradicting God. When Jesus said, "It is written" the devil withdraws the first time. "It is written," said Jesus, and he devil withdraws the second time. "It is written," said Christ, the third time, and the devil gave up the contest. We learn here that God's word is the weapon Satan most dreads. He did this for us by way of example. The devil would entangle us again and again in the snares of the world. The devil would have us believe that the Christian religion is not the only way to heaven. Good people in all religions will go to heaven, says Satan. Millions of people have fallen for that suggestion from Satan. Satan would put the question, "Is it true that the only path to eternal life is the little track on which you Christians are traveling"? That sounds so reasonable to most all people on earth. Thus argues the evil ruler of this world. It is a revealed fact that Satan controls all religions in the world, except the Christian religion. Paul rebuked Christians for attending the religious services of heathen Gentiles. Please note these wors in I Corinthians 10:20, "The things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to G od." Demons are fallen angels. We learn here that Satan and the other fallen angels are influential in all false religions of mankind. But all who will take up the word of God and at once reply what Jesus said, " I am the way, the truth and the life; no man comes to the Father but by Me,"–Satan's argument is destroyed, and you have escaped out of the hands of the great tempter. I know of nothing in all of the Bible that proves the divine inspiration of the scriptures more clearly than Luke 4:1-13.
Next let me show you how Jesus used these three words, "It is written, " to utterly defeat Satan. Jesus had no other weapon against Satan than the word of God. He used three quotations. Time will not allow a discussion of all three temptations. In this study we will consider the first temptation. Before the first temptation, the Holy Spirit sent Jesus into the wilderness for forty days and nights. Did you ever go without food for forty days and nights? It was when He was suffering from intense hunger and weakness that Satan draws near and makes his first attack. The devil begins like this, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone that it become bread." That did not seem to be an reasonable thing to ask of Him. It was as if he said to him, "Use the means at your disposal to supply your physical needs, instead of depending on God whom you call Your Father, but Who appears to have forgotten you." Forty days and nights is a long time to deny Him any food, and we are not told why God subjected Him to such a fast. I wonder how much longer He could have lived without food. He was tempted to question God's assistance and goodness. Satan challenged Him to prove He was the Son of God by working a miracle. The first temptation was of a twofold nature. He is tempted to satisfy His hunger and to prove Himself to be the Son of God.
However, Jesus refutes the enemy without hesitation by meeting him simply with this plain answer from the scriptures; "It is written man shall not live by bread alone." The Lord's answer may seem a little strange to us, and it is not clear how it answered the Devil's challenge. It is not clear on the surface just what Jesus meant by this quotation. Satan knew what He meant, but it is not clear to us. You may be surprised where Jesus went to find this quotation. It was taken from the book of Deuteronomy and from the history of the people of Israel in the wilderness. Surprisingly, Jesus did not quote the entire verse that He used against the devil. He quoted a part of Deuteronomy 8:3, words that Moses spoke Israel, "So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of he Lord." Now we know what Jesus meant by this statement. What He meant by this quotation is, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God, every word that comes from His mouth." Satan knew what that verse meant, and he made no reply, no argument with Jesus. Why did Jesus with the 39 books of the Old Testament open before Him protect Himself from Satan's first temptation with a partial quotation from Deuteronomy 8:3?
He used these words because He perceived a parallel between Himself, the Son of God, preparing to lay the foundation of His kingdom on earth and Israel's forty days's fast and temptation in the wilderness of Judea. Israel had been in the wilderness of Arabia for forty year and Jesus had been in the wilderness of Judea for forty days. God had humbled them and let them hunger, and He also humbled Jesus and let Him hunger. There was another comparison between Israel humbled for 40 years and Jesus, God also considered Israel His son, even as He considered Jesus His Sosn. The nation of Israel was God's son He called out of Egypt. Furthermore, the nation of Israel was type of Christ, God's divine Son sent from heaven. Israel, who is also presented to us as a type of the New Testament church, is also a type of Christ., the head of that church and in whom it is complete. Moreover, when Jesus was born, he was taken to Egypt to protect His life. Matthew 2;15 says, "And he was there until the death of Herod that it might be fulfilled which was spoke by the Lord through the prophets saying, "Out of Egypt did I call My son." That prophecy was Hosea 11:1. God called two sons out of Egypt; Israel was first called out of Egypt in the days of Moses, but it was fulfilled much more gloriously when Christ returned from His journey to Egypt at the beginning of the first century. This could be scripturally said because Israel was a type of Christ, and Chrst was the antiype. What a close connection there is between the Old Testament and the New Testament!
In the verse preceding the verse Jesus quoted in Deuteronomy 8, Moses said to Israel, "You shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart whether, whether you would keep His commandments or not." The 40 year wilderness wanderings was to test Israel Then begins the verse Jesus quoted to Satan, "So He humbled you, and allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the m outh of the Lord." So as Israel was humbled and allowed to hunger, so Christ was humbled and allowed to hunger and be tested as God's Son from heaven. God qualified Israel for the conquest of Canaan by forty years of hunger, privations and trials in the great desert of Arabia. In like manner God humbled Jesus for forty days and nights and let Him hunger that He might see if Christ t would keep His commandments. Let us learn from this first temptation that as God humbled. tested, chastened His Old Testament nation, He will do the same for the Christian nation, His New Testament nation, and all this for the same beneficial reason He allowed it for Israel. What was that reason? "That He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by by every word that proceeds from the mouth of Jehovah."
As God compensated for the fasting, privations, and suffering of Israel in wilderness of Arabia by feeding them with manna for forty years, never let their shoes wear out and led them with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, so God has compensated for whatever persecutions, privations and sufferings His New Testament people must endure in a world of darkness and evil, He feeds us with manna from heaven all the days of our life. Jesus said that He was the true manna from heavn and said, "I am the living bread which came down out of heaven; if any man eat of this bread he will live forever; yea and the bread which I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world."(John 6:51). God tested the earthly Jesus with far greate severity than His children in the earthly family. Satan's power on earth to tempt man is under God's providential limits. We read these comforting words in I Corinthians 10:13, "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to bear, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape that you may be able to bear it."