The Temptations of Jesus

Text: Luke 4:1-13


I.         We all face temptations - I Corinthians 10:13

            A.        But Satan’s power to tempt is limited. He only has so many tricks to use.

            B.        Consider the temptation of Jesus

                        1.         We understand that Jesus is the Son of God

                        2.         So often we believe that Jesus’ temptations were not like our own

                        3.         They would have been extraordinary and have little to no bearing on our own problems with temptation.

                        4.         We do not want to be ignorant of Satan’s devices - II Corinthians 2:10-11

II.        Changing stones into bread - Luke 4:1-4

            A.        Could we be tempted to change stones into bread?

                        1.         If you really, really hungry, would it be a temptation to you?

                        2.         It might be tempting to eat stones as if they were bread, but we cannot be tempted to change stones into bread. It is beyond our ability, no matter how hungry we become.

                        3.         But this doesn’t mean there is little to learn from this temptation

            B.        Notice what Satan did not do

                        1.         He did not try to get Jesus to commit a blatantly immoral act.

                                    a.         He wasn’t tempted with intoxicating beverages

                                    b.         He wasn’t asked to take the name of God in vain

                                    c.         He wasn’t pressured into stealing

                        2.         Satan knew he was dealing with the Son of God. He need a more subtle sin

            C.        The nature of Satan’s challenge

                        1.         Satan’s challenge was basically moral

                                    a.         There is nothing corrupt or immoral about turning stones into bread

                                    b.         Not long after Jesus turned water into wine; so, changing the nature of things is not the issue.

                        2.         The challenge contained a beneficial result

                                    a.         Jesus needed to live to fulfill his mission, but he has been 40 days without food.

                                    b.         The eating of food would not be wrong, and in this case necessary.

                        3.         The challenge wasn’t forbidden

                                    a.         There is nothing specifically in the Scriptures forbidding the changing of stones into bread

            D.        Consider people’s basis for judgment today.

                        1.         People think that if something is moral, has a benefit, and isn’t forbidden, then it must not be a sin.

                                    a.         “I don’t see anything wrong with it.” In other words, they see it as moral.

                                    b.         “Looks to me like it would do a lot of good.” In other words, they see it as beneficial.

                                    c.         “Where in the Bible does it say not to?” In other words, they understand that it is not forbidden.

                        2.         Is this not how instrumental music, kitchens in building, the use of institutions by the church, and such like justified?

            E.        The flaw in this type of reasoning

                        1.         Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3, but let’s read the context of the quote - Deuteronomy 8:1-3

                                    a.         Moses referred back to the time when the people ran short on food - Exodus 16:2-7

                                    b.         The people wanted to take matters into their own hands. They wanted to return to Egypt.

                                    c.         God provided food, but He wanted to know if the people would obey His instructions

                        2.         It wasn’t a matter that God didn’t forbid turning stones into bread. The problem was that God hadn’t authorized it.

                                    a.         Our goal is not to please ourselves - Galatians 1:10

                                    b.         Must not be self-seeking - Romans 2:8

                                    c.         Teaching man’s goals and man’s desires constitutes vain worship - Matthew 15:8-9

                                    d.         Lawlessness is acting without authority - Matthew 7:21-23

            F.        Israel’s problem was a lack of trust in God - Hebrews 3:7-19

                        1.         We should not worry - Matthew 6:25-33

                        2.         Jesus’s trust was not misplaced - Matthew 4:11

                        3.         Yet, many continue to think with their bellies - John 6:26-27

                        4.         Choices are made based on worldly priorities - Luke 8:14

III.       The Kingdoms of the World - Luke 4:5-8

            A.        Satan offered to give Jesus his kingdom

                        1.         All who sin are in his realm - I John 3:7-10

                        2.         He is the ruler of this world - John 12:31

                        3.         Jesus’ purpose was to draw men to him - John 12:32

                        4.         In essence, Satan was offering to fold without a fight, if Jesus would just give up.

            B.        What Satan asked

                        1.         It wouldn’t harm anyone

                                    a.         Many teach that as long as no one is hurt, it can’t be wrong.

                                                (1)       By this pornography, fornication, and any other sin where all parties consent is justified.

                                    b.         It is even extended that if there are no severe consequences, then it is no big deal

                                                (1)       Pre-marital sex is seen as fine since one can practice “safe sex”

                                                (2)       As long as disease and pregnancy is avoided, then there is no harm

                                    c.         Hence, sins are defended.

                                                (1)       “If one has a drink in his own home, then no one is harmed. It is not as if he is not taking care of his family. He is not out on the highway jeopardizing lives.”

                                                (2)       Or gambling. Bill Bennett was defended for his gambling because, while it was large sums, it wasn’t money needed by his family because they were wealthy.

                                    d.         The core of all of these arguments is that things we might call sin are not really sin if they don’t harm others.

                                                (1)       It could have been argued here. Worshiping Satan is wrong, but it was just Jesus and no one else was involved.

                                                (2)       No one else would have been hurt, so how could it be a sin?

                                                (3)       But sin always causes harm - I Corinthians 6:18-20

                        2.         Everyone else does it

                                    a.         Many judge right and wrong based on its general acceptance in society.

                                                (1)       It can’t be all that wrong if others are involved in the same sin.

                                                (2)       Hence, when political figures are found in sin, you find a rash of articles about how others have done similar things.

                                    b.         Ever try to talk to today’s teens about the immorality of pre-marital sex?

                                                (1)       I talked to several and the question is not whether to do it or not, but when would be a good time and with whom.

                                                (2)       Brethren, it is not questioned in society at large. It is accepted as what everyone does!

                                    c.         We talk that divorce is wrong, but even Christians readily consider it because it carries no sigma.

                                    d.         Improper attire is accepted because on the beach or in the swimming pool, everyone dresses in this fashion.

                                    e.         Yet, the majority simply indicates the easy path - Matthew 7:13-14

                        3.         No one needs to know

                                    a.         Satan had taken Jesus to a high mountain - Matthew 4:8

                                    b.         Many sins are done under the cover of darkness - I Thessalonians 5:4-8

                                    c.         Once sins are committed, they are hidden from others

                                                (1)       David committed adultery

                                                (2)       He tried to hide his sin by making it look like it didn’t happen

                                                (3)       He lied

                                                (4)       He eventually committed murder

                                                (5)       Hiding sins makes things worse - Proverbs 28:13

                                    d.         Men forget that nothing is hidden from God - Proverbs 15:3

                                                (1)       God sees and we must give an account - Hebrews 4:13

                                                (2)       There is no hiding from God - Psalm 139

                                    e.         But, you know you can’t hide from yourself either - Romans 2:15

                                                (1)       Our hearts can condemn us - I John 3:20-21

                                                (2)       We need the good testimony of our conscience - II Corinthians 1:12

                        4.         It will only be this one time

                                    a.         Just one fling, just one drink, just one drug.

                                    b.         The danger before marriage of fornication because, “We’ll be getting married anyway.”

                                    c.         The true danger is when the sin is committed, the consequences are minimized.

                                                (1)       “No harm was done.” I got away with it.

                                                (2)       “It was only a little thing.” I am able to handle it.

                                                (3)       “It is not like I do it all the time.” I still can resist.

                                    d.         Sin leads to death, because its searing power numbs us to the consequences - I Timothy 4:1-3; Ephesians 4:17-19

                        5.         Some good will come of it

                                    a.         Jesus could rule over Satan’s kingdom and avoided the cross.

                                    b.         Situation ethics is the idea that some thing wrong can be right depending on the situation.

                                                (1)       Joseph Fletcher, in his book “Situation Ethics, the New Morality” tells of a woman in a Nazi labor camp. The Germans had a rule that pregnant women could be released from the labor camps. Thus, a woman seduced a German guard, got pregnant, was sent home, and everyone in her family was happy.

                                                (2)       People argue for church sponsored meals because look how many will come and hear the gospel.

                                                (3)       Cooperative pooling of money was argued the same way. “Look at how many people will be reached and converted.”

                                    c.         David wanted to bring the ark to Jerusalem, so he put it on a cart even though it violated God’s law - II Samuel 6:1-10

                                    d.         The problem is that doing wrong is always wrong.

                                    e.         Even when choosing the lesser of two evils, the lesser is still evil.

            C.        What Jesus responded - Luke 4:8

                        1.         Resist - I Peter 5:8-9

                        2.         We must resist Satan - James 4:7

IV.      The pinnacle of the temple - Luke 4:9-12

            A.        Satan offered Jesus two verses to prove that Jesus ought to prove himself to be the Son of God

                        1.         The context of the quote is Psalm 91:9-13

                        2.         Notice that protection is offered to the one who first trusts in God.

                        3.         The passage was written to encourage faith, not to put God to the test as Satan used it.

            B.        Jesus’ response puts the passage back into context

                        1.         God’s word harmonizes in the details. Jesus’ quote is in harmony with Psalms 91 if it is read properly.

                        2.         But Jesus’ quote contradicts the way Satan attempted to use the verse.

                        3.         God protects but to place yourself into harm’s way is to bring God to a test and testing God is a sin.

                                    a.         Think about what Jesus pointed out in connection with prayer; do we put God to the test?

                                    b.         “Lord, if you want me to take this job, give me a sign this week.”

                                    c.         “Lord, if you’ll give me a job tomorrow, then I’ll know it really came from you.”

                                                (1)       Notice the test.

                                                (2)       What if the job came two days later? Does the petitioner then believe that God didn’t have a hand in it?

                                    d.         “Lord, if you will help me, I’ll go to church Sunday.”

                                                (1)       Is it right to make our service to God conditional on His responding in the manner that we want?

                                    e.         People are not in the position to bargain with God

                                                (1)       Keep your words few before God - Ecclesiastes 5:2

                                                (2)       The mistake of the wicked to assume silence is approval - Psalm 50:16-23

            C.        Application

                        1.         Quoting Scriptures doesn’t necessarily makes a person right

                                    a.         There are a number of people in the denominational world who manage to quote passages.

                                    b.         But we must ask

                                                (1)       Is it quoted correctly

                                                (2)       Is it applied properly to the situation

                                                (3)       Is it in harmony with the rest of the Bible?

                                    c.         An old-time preacher, A.G. Freed once said that one could prove anything by the Bible. A young man didn’t believe him. “Prove to me,” he asked, “that it’s wrong to split wood.” With only a moment’s thought, brother Freed answered, “Whatsoever God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”

                                    d.         Without context, just about anything can be “proven.”

                        2.         Avoiding showiness

                                    a.         Think what would have happened if Jesus did make a miraculous descent from the top of the temple in the arms of angels.

                                    b.         From the human viewpoint, they would be impressed.

                                    c.         The Jews were looking for a spectacular Messiah.

                                                (1)       “By far the most popular view of the Messiah was a warrior king, who would appear as a political champion and military hero to rally Jews from every nation and lead them in a victorious onslaught against their enemies. Heathen oppressors would be annihilated and God’s elect would become the world’s conquerors.” H.E. Dana, New Testament World, pages 133-134.

                                                (2)       Show in the multitudes attempt to make Jesus king - John 6:15

                                                (3)       They continued to look for signs from God - I Corinthians 1:22-23

                                    d.         Jesus refused what the Jews were looking for

V.        Jesus met Satan’s temptations with knowledge of God’s Word

            A.        We need the whole armor of God - Ephesians 6:10-17

            B.        By it, we learn of Satan’s devices

            C.        By it, we learn how others have met with temptation

                        1.         We can follow the examples of those who overcame - James 5:10-11

                        2.         We can avoid the paths of those who fell victim - I Corinthians 10:6-12

            D.        Will you join us it the fight against Satan? Will you renew your efforts to resist his will? Will you come to God this day?

[Based on a lesson by David Riggs]