Overcoming Temptation (Matthew 4)

In the temptation of Christ, Satan attempts to draw Jesus to deny God by three simple challenges.  The first is turning stones into bread. The second is miraculous acts. And the third is idolatry. Jesus maintains perfect focus on the mission of God and comes out the victor. (Read it here)

Stones to bread:

Jesus kneels, hungry and exhausted, and the accuser dares to pose the challenge. “Make these stones bread.” The enemy challenges God’s provision and Jesus has the opportunity to utilize His own strength or to focus on the mission at hand. The interesting truth about this first test is that Jesus is “The Bread.” He is bread. He is what sustains life. He is the sustaining breath in our lungs and the life giving power that maintains all life on earth. Satan tempts Jesus to deny that mission. Take these stones and make something else bread… go on, you’re hungry… deny the mission of God.

Miraculous dive

In the second test the accuser leads Jesus to the peak of the temple. Imagine for a moment, Jesus stands at the epicenter of religious piety. Imagine what must go through His mind. All the people enslaved to a religious system that has really become a corruption of what true worship is. All those religious people are clamoring to earn some sort of righteousness that will never come in this way. His heart must have grown faint at the sight of some of the worshipers. The Pharisees who would never believe (John 10) are just below. He could do this amazing feat and have them eating out of His hands. Then what of the people outside the court? What about the people who cannot enter? He would be King then, for sure, but they would not know Him. They would see God from the same distance that the people Israel always  had to endure. They would stand gazing upward at the fire on top of the mountain while trembling in fear and sin in the face of a Holy Terror. No, The New Moses must come down the mountain to connect the people with their God. He cannot stay atop or the people will be caught in eternal distance from God. The mission of restoration must supersede mystical terror.

Idolatry

The final temptation is played out on a global scale. Jesus is shown the entire world and told that He can have the whole thing, so long as He agrees to make the devil God. I believe this was a tactical error on the devil’s part. You see Jesus made the world (John 1) and when He made it, it was perfect. The devil offers Jesus a marred and broken world. Imagine the sorrow that flooded Jesus as He saw His creation desperate for His restoration. Imagine His anger at sin. What fury must have raged as He looked through time and space and saw you struggling in your sin. What agony must have built as He watched every injustice played out on His beloved earth. What terrific indignation He must have garnered in that instant before He responded to Satan. What must it have been like? His face turns red, jaw clinched, tears begin to stream, hands tighten, eyes narrow to eagle like focus on the mission of restoration, and the proclamation is made!

Overcoming temptation is difficult to do, but it can be done and you in fact have been empowered to overcome by the work of Christ on the cross. (1Pt. 4:1-6, Rom.6:1-5, 15-23) When Christ overcomes temptation He does it by His connection to the Word of God and His focus on the mission of God. Likewise, we must overcome temptation by the same means. We must remain connected to the Word of God at all times. Simply put, this means that you should be reading and memorizing your Bible. To fail to do so is to weaken your own resistance to temptation. This application is simple and you should not be surprised at your failure if you never listen to the word of God! Second, we must maintain a focus on the mission of God. To see the world from an eternal perspective will alter the way you can be affected by temptation. Your resolve will be steel! The accuser will not be able to quench the light that comes from your soul. Learn to see the mission of God above all else and that cowardly accuser will flee.

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