“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.'” (Matthew 4:10)
Some time today, read Matthew 4:1-11. In that passage you see how Jesus handled the devil and temptation. Three times, Jesus confronted the devil with Scripture to counteract the temptation the devil brought to Him. And in each of those instances, I believe Jesus was saying the exact same thing…“Devil…I will NOT serve you.”
The temptations Jesus faced represent the same frontal attacks you and I have to face as believers. Satan’s temptations appeal to the appetite, to avarice, and to ambition. Those are the three categories into which sin falls. John, the Apostle called them “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (I John 2:16). In the Garden of Eden, Eve saw that the tree was “good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise” (Genesis 3:6).
The devil’s tricks have not changed since Eden. Every temptation you and I face still falls into one of those three categories. So today…let’s commit ourselves to following three simple statement when we meet temptation.
1. I will not compromise my body. The devil offered Jesus bread and Jesus didn’t ignore the necessity of bread. Instead, He refused to give it priority in His life. What does that mean for me and you?
Simple…we cannot give ourselves over to the “eat, drink and be merry” philosophy of life. This philosophy prioritizes personal pleasure and spectacular entertainment. Our culture is obsessed with immediate satisfaction and the result is often disappointment, depression and discouragement.
I heard about a patient who visited his doctor. After the exam, the doctor said, “Sir, you need an uplift in your life. You need to forget the cares of this world. As a matter of fact, I suggest that you go and familiarize yourself with Grimaldi. Grimaldi is a great entertainer who lives the free and easy life. If you will read his books and model his lifestyle, I believe you will find life so much more enjoyable.”
The patient interrupted the doctor and said, “Excuse me doctor. I don’t think you caught my name. My name is Grimaldi!”
Remember, as a believer, your body is the temple of God. The Holy Spirit dwells there. Don’t compromise with a world that says do “whatever makes you happy.” Instead submit yourself and your body to God’s plan and ask Him to use you for His glory.
2. I will not submit to unholy ambitions. The second temptation the devil brought to Jesus was for Him to throw Himself off the temple in order to gain popularity with the crowds in a cheap, theatrical way. And this time…the devil even quoted a little Scripture. And what he said to Jesus seems logical. Hadn’t God promised to protect His own Son?
But there was another side to it. Jesus reminded the devil and He reminds us that we are never to put ourselves in a dangerous position by our own foolishness and then expect that God is somehow obligated to save us.
Listen…as long as you are in the will of God and following God’s plan for your life, God will be with you. BUT when you stray from His will in order to satisfy your own ego or some vain ambition, don’t expect God to feel any obligation to rush to your rescue.
Pride is one of the greatest sins. Early Christians listed it as first of the “seven deadly sins.” James Russell Lowell said that “pride and weakness are Siamese twins.” Ben Franklin said, “Pride breakfasted with plenty, dined with poverty, and supped with infamy.”
Wayne Martingale said, “Put first things first and we get second things thrown in: Put second things first and we lose both first and second things.”
Jesus said it this way. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
3. I will not worship material things. The third temptation contained no innuendo or nuance. The devil was direct. He said, “Jesus, here’s the bottom line. You put material things first in your life. Sell out your soul, and I will give you the treasures of the world.”
Can the devil actually do that? In a sense, yes he can. When you ignore the Bible and ignore what God teaches and you concentrate solely on the material…for a limited time, you may succeed. BUT eternity is coming! One day you will answer to God.
For a believer – if you try to serve the devil for material gain, God will discipline you! There is a great difference in the way God deals with a believer versus a non-believer. If you claim to be a Christian, and you can continue to sin without discipline from God…then I think you should examine your experience and see if you are truly a born-again believer!
So, what is the best course of action for us when we are tempted? For a lost person, the only course is to repent of sin and trust Jesus Christ as personal Savior. There is no other option. Until you become a Christian, there is no basis for dealing with temptation.
For a Christian, it is different. We have Jesus Christ, our High Priest. The Bible says that He was tempted in all points as we are and yet is without sin. As we live in fellowship with Him and study His Word, He provides us the strength we need to resist the devil.
Remember these words from Billy Graham…
“We can’t flee from temptation in our own strength — but God will give us the strength we need, if we’ll only seek it. A friend of mine says, ‘When the devil knocks, I just send Jesus to the door!'”
Have a great day.