Greetings! In my previous blog, we looked at the topic of temptation. We defined it as enticement to evil and looked at a few ways we are tempted. We ended by asking the question, “What is the way out of temptation?” Today, we will begin to answer that question.
Before Jesus began his public ministry, the Bible records an incident in which Jesus was tempted. That’s right, Jesus was tempted, much like you and me. Matthew 4 records the true story. It begins with Jesus fasting for forty days and forty nights. At the end of this fast, Scripture simply says, “He was hungry.” I don’t know about you, but if I go longer than four hours without eating, I am “hungry,” I can’t imagine what forty days would be like. It is in this moment of desperate hunger that the devil comes knocking. In my life, when I am weak, tired, hungry, sad, or angry, that is the moment in which I am most vulnerable to temptation.
Jesus was tempted three times by the devil. The first temptation was phrased this way, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” In this first temptation, the devil attacked Jesus in two ways.
First, he attacked Jesus’ identity by asking, “If you are the Son of God…” This is similar to the original temptation of Adam and Eve, “Did God really say…?” Identity is defined as “who someone is, the qualities, beliefs, etc., that make a particular person or group different from others.” The devil was trying to get Jesus to doubt His true identity.
You may be struggling with this issue as well. Finish this sentence: I am…… Do you even know who you are? Do you feel that you don’t fit in? How do you define your identity? Is it your job? Your social status? Your number of friends on Facebook? The kind of car you drive? Do you define yourself by how happy you are? Who are you? Do you find your identity in the country you live in? The church you attend? The church you don’t attend? Or, do you let someone or something else define your identity?
A person’s true identity can only be found in Christ. Genesis 1 tells us that we were created in the image of God. This is a profound truth. John 1:12 tells us, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” Receive Christ. Believe in Him. Find your identity as a child of God!
The second way Jesus was tempted in this question was the devils appeal to Jesus’ immediate needs, “command these stones to become loaves of bread.” I’m not going to spend a lot of time on the need for immediate gratification. I will tell you that if I was as hungry as Jesus was, and if I had the power to turn stones into food, you can bet there would have been a lot of pizza around me, immediately.
Jesus fought both of these temptations, identity and immediate gratification, with a heavy dose of Scripture. He quoted Deuteronomy 8:3, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” The “every word that comes from the mouth of God” was Jesus’ way of telling us all to read our Bibles when we are tempted.
Are you struggling with your identity? Read Ephesians 1 or Colossians 3. Are you struggling with immediate gratification? Read Proverbs. If you are struggling with something that you know is not right, go to the only source for absolute truth: God’s Word. If you don’t have a Bible, go to any church and ask for one!
We will look at the next temptation of Jesus next week, but let me ruin that for you as well, Jesus counters the attack with more Scripture.
This was first published in The Chappell Register on October 16, 2015.