We encounter temptations often and sometimes daily. There is a constant battle between the flesh and the spirit of God in us. The flesh seeks to make us rebel against God and ultimately lead us to hell. The spirit of God in us wants us to live in righteousness, resist temptation so we can continue to walk in the victory of Christ. In this bible study we will be looking at temptation in-depth and i pray you learn a thing or two from this post.
What is temptation?
It is a cause or occasion of enticement.
Google defines temptation as the desire to do something, especially something wrong or unwise and enticement as to attract or tempt by offering pleasure or advantage.
What causes temptation?
God does not tempt us. He is not up there trying to make us do something wrong. Temptation comes from evil desires inside us. God tests us. Google defines test as a procedure intended to establish the quality, performance, or reliability of something, especially before it is taken into widespread use. His aim when He test us is for us to know who we are. He doesn’t test us for Him to know our performance and quality because He already knows. Test is for us to know the level we are in our faith, grow and to help us grow our dependence of Christ. The root cause of temptation is the devil who our flesh seeks to please.
The temptation of Jesus covers every area we can be tempted by the devil. As such it makes the perfect case study for this topic. In this bible study, i will be going indepth into the temptation of Jesus Christ
The temptation of Jesus Christ Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-13
From what we have seen so far, we understand that God does not tempt us. One may ask if God does not tempt us, why then does Matthew 4:1 say ‘Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil?’ To understand the temptation of Jesus, i suggest we don’t study it from one book only. It’s important to see how other writers put it. This account is also narrated by Luke in Luke 4:1-13. In Mark 1:12, Mark clarifies that Jesus was not led by the Spirit into temptation. Rather Jesus was led into the wilderness where He was tempted.
When does temptation occur?
Low Point – Wilderness
Wilderness signifies isolation, weakness, dryness, lack, delay, hunger and loneliness. Temptations occurs when we are mostly vulnerable. Jesus wasn’t tempted inside the temple or at his baptism but in the wilderness, where he was tired, alone, weak, hungry, isolated, and thus most vulnerable. The devil often tempts us when we are vulnerable. He watches out for times when we are under physical and emotional stress and also for moments when we are under pressure of weighing big decisions. Moments when we are faced with uncertainty is also a good time for him because he understands that we are vulnerable and in most cases want immediate answers in those seasons.
When we are at our high moments, it’s very easy to become relaxed and complacent. This gives the devil another avenue to tempt us. He likes to tempt us through our strengths, where we are most susceptible to pride. The devil also tempted Jesus in the areas of His strength. We will see how and where he did this in a bit.
Temptation – Make bread: Food
Real need used as basis for temptation – Physical need: Hunger
Possible doubt that made the temptation real – Would God provide food?
Potential weakness Satan sought to exploit – Hunger, impatience, need for Jesus to “prove His sonship”
Jesus’ answer – Deuteronomy 8:3 “Depend on God”. He focused on God’s purpose.
Jesus was hungry and weak after fasting for 40 days, but He chose not to use His divine power to satisfy His natural desire for food. The desire to eat was good, the timing and the principle behind the miracle He was asked to perform was wrong. It’s a good thing doesn’t mean it’s a God thing. Jesus’ ultimate goal was to please God and not His flesh. Jesus was in the wilderness to fast and not to eat. There is a saying that when the purpose for a thing is not known, abuse is inevitable. He knew His purpose and He wasn’t distracted by fleshy desires.
We may be tempted to satisfy a perfectly normal desire in a wrong way or at a wrong time. A good example of this is the temptation to satisfy sexual desires outside marriage. The desire itself is from God but within marital boundary. Many of our desires are God given and are normal and good, but God wants them to be satisfied in the right way and at the right time. In order to overcome this temptation, Jesus focused on His purpose.
The sin in this temptation was not in the act but in the reason behind it. The devil was trying to get Jesus to take a shortcut, to solve his immediate problem at the expense of His goals. Comfort looked ideal at this moment but it wasn’t right. We should always check if we are being led by the Holy Spirit or our flesh which seeks to get us off the track.
Temptation – Dare God to rescue you (based on misapplied scripture, Psalm 91:11-12)
Real need used as basis for temptation – Emotional need: Security
Possible doubt that made the temptation real – Would God protect?
Potential weakness Satan sought to exploit – Pride, insecurity, need to test God
Jesus’ answer – Deuteronomy 6:16 “Don’t test God”. He focused on God’s plan.
The temple was in a very strategic location. It was the tallest building in the area. It was also the religious center of the Jewish nation and the place where the people expected the Messiah to arrive (Malachi 3:1). Satan brought Jesus to the highest point of this tall building. From this spot, Jesus could see all of Jerusalem behind Him and the country in front of Him. If Jesus had jumped, it would have been a show. Of course He wouldn’t have been hurt but that kind of fame wasn’t part of the plan of God for His life. Jesus was secure in God’s plan for His life. He didn’t need an alternative. He was emotionally stable in God. Some of us aren’t stable in our faith. We wobble and find ourselves swaying all the time. We need to be grounded in the word of God especially in these times. This isn’t the time to be shallow. We have to ensure that our foundation is deep so when the storms of life comes, we can stand.
God is not a magician in the sky waiting to perform magic on request. The intention of Psalm 91 is to show God’s protection of His people, not to incite believers to use God’s power for sensational or foolish displays. God wants us to live by faith, not by magic. Signs can be good for confirmation but we shouldn’t try to manipulate God by asking for signs.
Satan targets our emotional needs. He isolates us and tells us lies about ourselves. He tells us we are not beautiful and that we are not smart. He tells magnifies our weakness and makes us feel helpless. He tells us that in order for us to feel good about ourselves we need drugs, sex, alcohol, etc. Many have fallen victim to this trick and they have found themselves in a deep pit where they are struggling to leave.
Satan used scripture to try convince Jesus to sin. I can’t even begin to count the number of times i have heard scriptures being used to encourage people not to call out sin. What this results in is believers minding their business and no longer being ‘brother’s keeper’. Sometimes friends and loved ones will present attractive and convincing reasons why we should try something we know is wrong. They use phrases like ‘it isn’t that deep’. They may even back it up with bible verses. This is the more reason why we can’t just feed off blogs and messages we hear. We need to study the bible for ourselves ensuring we study in context. This is only when we will be able to recognize errors of interpretations when people take bible verse out of context.
Temptation – Worship me (Satan)
Real need used as basis for temptation – Psychological need: Significance, power, achievement.
Possible doubt that made the temptation real – Would God rule?
Potential weakness Satan sought to exploit – Desire for quick power,easy solutions, need to prove equality with God
Jesus’ answer – Deuteronomy 6:13 “No compromise with evil.” He focused on God’s person.
The devil arrogantly hoped to succeed in his rebellion against God by diverting Jesus from His mission and winning His worship. He told Jesus that the world was his and that He needed to follow his rules if He wanted to succeed. Does this sound familiar? I’m sure it does. Compromise. We are faced everyday with opportunities for us to compromise so we can prove a point. Our pride sometimes gets the best of us. We try to prove our worth to others and end up doing things we shouldn’t do and going to places we shouldn’t go. We are puffed up by our achievements to the point where they become our idols. Our sense of worth is so glued to what we have achieved. Go no longer gets the glory.
The devil no longer take us to the top of a tall building to tempt us. He whisper lies into us daily, giving us reasons why we should tell a white lie, or stay in unforgiveness, or lie to our boss that we sick so we can skip work for the day, or lust over someone.
Satan offers us the world by trying to entice us with materialism and power. He presents himself as powerful thereby making us doubt our worth, value and significance. He tries to control our minds to think that we are not who God says we are. The voice we obey is our master. In those moments when we are tempted, our worship goes to the devil when we obey him by falling into those temptations.
Jesus didn’t argue with the Satan about who owns the world. He already knew who the owner was/is. The devil knew as well, as such there was no need for Jesus to engage in this conversation with him. Jesus refused to validate Satan’s claim by worshiping him. He knew that God’s plan was for Him to redeem the world through His death on the cross, not through making an alliance with a corrupt and fallen angel.
What would it take for us to compromise? What is there in life that would cause us to compromise our faith? Sexual temptation? Financial inducement? Homelessness? Fear of alienation or offending someone? These will be placed in our path at some point. The devil wants to destroy believers or at least neutralise us through sin, shame and guilt. When that temptation comes, rely on God’s word and stand fast in your commitment to worship God alone.
In conclusion, the temptations we face are regarding our physical needs, emotional needs and psychological needs. When devil tempts us, he wants us to doubt; God’s plan for our lives, God’s purpose for our lives and who God is (God’s person). All the temptations recorded in the bible can be linked to these three points. Jesus Christ overcame all. I pray that this post helps open our eyes to his tactics so we can fight better.