THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW VOLUME 1 CHAPTER 7

Section 1: The Early Events Of Jesus The King
Chapter 7

The Temptation Of The King
Or
The Leading Of The Spirit

Scripture To Consider:
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Jesus, he said, ‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’ But Jesus answered and said, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”‘

“Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: He shall give His angels charge concerning You, in their hands they shall bear You up, lest You dash Your foot against a stone.’ Jesus said to him, ‘It is written again, “You shall not tempt the LORD your God.”‘

“Again, the devil took Jesus up on an exceedingly high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And 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.”‘ Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.” Matthew 4.1-11

Something To Consider:
The most important, the most memorable, the most mysterious battle in history was the conflict between Jesus and the devil. It is not to be supposed that this was the first or last assault of the false against the rightful Ruler of this world; but the experience which closed the forty days and nights spent by Jesus in the wilderness was a type and summary of all the attacks of Satan upon mankind and a pledge and prophecy of his final defeat.

The timing is significant. “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit…” At His baptism Jesus had been assured of His divine Sonship and had become conscious of His supernatural powers. “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” And to this new awareness and experience each attack of the enemy was related.

The seasons of highest exaltation are often followed by those of greatest moral peril. After the opening of the heavens, the descending of the Spirit in the form of a dove, and the hearing of the Father’s heavenly voice, the whisper of the devil and the hiss of the serpent’s lies and temptation to sin were heard by Jesus. So, too, every enlarged power, every advancement in life, every increased privilege, may be accompanied by some new danger to the soul.

Therefore, according to Matthew, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” And the place is likely spiritually suggestive, for in the hour of bitter struggle and testing, the human heart is conscious of peculiar loneliness and isolation. Happy is he or she who is then spiritually aware of the presence of a divine Deliverer and of angelic ministers.

Jesus was led up by the Spirit to be tempted. Mark 1.12 declares that the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness; for it was in accord with a divine purpose and its issue was an unbounded benefit. Jesus was thus prepared to meet triumphantly every temptation of His earthly ministry, and His followers are assured of His sympathy in their hours of deepest darkness and of His assured strength in times of our most desperate need.

The first temptation was in the sphere of bodily appetite. After forty days of fasting there had come the reaction of ravenous hunger. And so, the tempter came and said unto Jesus, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” Why not? The desire for food was innocent, the need was imperative, and Jesus had the power to secure instant relief. But had Jesus resorted to miraculous means to gratify His human desire and to relieve His personal needs, He would have separated Himself from the experiences of humankind.

If Jesus had provided Himself food by way of a miracle, He would have surrendered the very purpose of His mission. And if He had done so there would have been no suffering and in the end no cross, and for us there now would be none to sympathize and none to save. A divine impulse had driven Him into the wilderness as a heavenly purpose had brought Him into the world. Therefore, He must endure as a man, whatever the divine purpose may involve.

There will be times and places for miracles, but never to gratify any selfish desire. Divine Sonship concerning Jesus, secured superhuman powers, but it also obligated perfect submission to the will of God. It is the custom of the tempter to entice men, women, and young people to gratify innocent desires in wrong ways. Can we read that again? It is the custom of the tempter to entice men, women, and young people to gratify innocent desires in wrong ways.

Something Else To Consider:
The real character of this temptation is revealed by the quotation Jesus made from the Old Testament. By one flash of biblical light the battle plan of the enemy is unmasked and is silenced. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Jesus recognized His need, but He was resolved to depend upon God for its supply. The devil had been tempting Him to doubt the goodness or the power of God. But Jesus declared that as His Father had sustained Israel in the wilderness, so now He would sustain His Son.

In the wilderness, many years prior, it had been by bread from heaven, how it might be on this occasion Jesus did not know. And yet, He left that in the hands of God His Father. He knew He was in His Father’s will, and He knew that His Father would supply His need. To say that the phrase, “Man shall not live by bread alone…” implies that mankind has higher powers and capacities which physical food cannot satisfy, is quite aside from the point.

It was exactly food which Jesus had in mind for this was His need. And yet, He resisted the temptation to an improper gratification of bodily appetite by His belief that God would supply His every real need, and that however strong the demand of appetite might be, the way and will of God were certain to secure satisfaction and the truest enjoyment of life. And that is indeed something else to consider!

The second temptation was in the realm of intellectual curiosity. The devil had failed to make Jesus doubt; therefore, he took Him at His word and then tried to drive Him to the other extreme of presumptuous trust. So, he led Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple and urged Him to cast Himself down. Why should He? Just to see what the experience would be like is no valid reason to test God. Even as Jesus is the Son of God, He was tempted by the devil to test the providential care of His Father.

Jesus was asked to put Himself in a situation of mortal peril and to trust God to deliver Him by supernatural power. To strengthen his evil suggestion the devil cites Scripture, as he always can for his purpose, by stating, “He [God] shall give His angels charge concerning You, in their hands they shall bear You up, lest You dash Your foot against a stone.” Here the devil, in his attempt to deceive Jesus, as in his attempts to deceive us, actually quotes Scripture found in Psalm 91.11-12 word for word.

Through deception Satan still seeks to destroy human souls. He urges men, women, and young people to see for themselves and to increase their knowledge by experiences which needlessly endanger their purity, their credit, their health, their honor, and their Christian reputation to place themselves in mortal peril, to live beyond their means, to undertake tasks beyond their strength and beyond God’s will for their lives. And this program of deception is all for the demonic purpose of stealing, killing, and destroying the Christian’s eternal relationship with God the Father in and through Jesus Christ.

The enemy does this even in the holiest of places, even in full sight of the temple where faith should be the strongest. Even in Christian service he bids believers to trust in God, and assures them that as children of God, as men, as women, and as young people of strong principles, and as followers of Christ, no harm can possibly befall them, and that God will work miracles if needed in order to preserve them. Let us not be deceived!

Jesus met the temptation and the misinterpretation of Scripture by Satan with another quotation from Deuteronomy 6.13, which showed that Satan had misapplied the Scripture, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.'” In other words, to compel God to rescue us, to put Him to the test, to see whether or not He will act, is not faith but presumption; therefore, it is not belief but distrust. In the path of actual duty, the child of God need not fear the most threatening perils, but one who puts himself or herself in unnecessary danger cannot expect divine deliverance.

The third temptation is in the area of personal ambition. Jesus is offered all the kingdoms of the world. It is noticeable that Matthew, the gospel of the King, unlike Luke, the gospel of the Ideal Man, places this temptation last, and brings the story to a climax. It was not unnatural that Jesus should desire universal rule; this He claimed, this He eventually expected, and this He will yet attain; but not on the devil’s terms, which were, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”

And men, women, and young people have fallen down and worshipped the enemy of their souls ever since in such ways and means as Matthew records here for us in the temptation of Jesus. Of course, what could be more abhorrent to the Son of God? Of course, what should be more abhorrent to the child of God?

But Jesus had ready His inspired reply, “Away with you Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’However, for even the true followers of Christ, there is subtle power in this appeal of the tempter. He does not ask them to give up their high purposes of ultimate helpfulness and service to others and to the world; he only asks them to compromise with evil as a means of attaining the goal.

Satan will always insist that the end will justify the means. He insinuates that in the world of commerce, or society, or politics, and even in the realm of religion, that evil methods are so much in vogue that success can be attained only by complicity with evil. He tells us that this is his world, and we can rule only in so far as we make terms with him.

For further convincing evidence, we simply need only to open our eyes to that which is going on around us on a daily basis in the areas already mentioned. But for the true believer a daily decision concerning Christ and our refusal to cave to the temptations of the enemy must be made!

For Christ the issue was now clearly drawn, it was submission to Satan and an easy way to worldly popularity and temporary power, or it was loyalty to God with conflict, toil, tears, and a cross, but then a universal and eternal throne. That same choice is for His followers; for us unswerving loyalty is the way of the cross, but that is also the way of the crown.

But in the end of this wilderness conflict, it is recorded; “Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.” Victory is possible, and after the conflict comes glad refreshment for all who fight with the sword of the Spirit and who trust in Jesus, the Son of God, and yet the living Word of God.

Something More To Consider:
Jesus was named by the wise men as King of the Jews. Pilate ordered the same title to be nailed above the cross on which Jesus died. It might be easily agreed upon by most, that every king, every ruler, religious, political, or military, faces temptation during their kingship, ruling reign, or leadership. The difference being, Jesus overcame every temptation to solicit evil, and did so victoriously by the power of the Word of God and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

Many worldly kings, rulers, and or leaders, have not fared as well as Jesus when coming face to face with the temptation to sin against God. King David, Israel’s most historically revered king, faced the enormous temptation of lust and failed to overcome, but was overwhelmingly overcome by his sin with Bathsheba, another man’s wife. Had King David followed the leading of the Holy Spirit in his time of temptation, he should have joined his military on the physical field of battle, where kings were accustomed to be found.

And yet, David succumbed to the lust of his flesh, and the end result was an adulterous affair with a married woman, the undeserved and further sinful plotting of the death of Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, and the consequential infant death of the child born out of David’s sinful, evil, and unlawful relationship. His choice for momentary sinful pleasure put into motion the reaping of what David had sown in his flesh.

And yet, even in the midst of murder and spiritual compromise on David’s part, due to his eventual repentance urged by God leading the prophet Nathan to King David’s doorstep to declare in the name of the Lord face to face with David, “You are the man!” Upon Nathan the prophet’s kingly rebuke, David confessed his sin and faced the inevitable consequences of his sin.

A Few Final Words:
Being led by the Spirit of God sometimes leads us into places of severe testing. At that moment, it is too late to prepare for the temptations of the enemy or of our own flesh as David faced. Even as God’s chosen king, God’s chosen vessel to rightly represent God to the people of God, if we are not yielding to the leading of God’s Holy Spirit, we too will fail in our time of testing and temptation. We must be prepared!

We must understand that now is the time, today is the day of our preparation against temptation. Now is the appropriate time to be found studying to show ourselves approved unto God, workers who are not ashamed of the gospel message, rightly dividing, rightly understanding, and as important, rightly communicating God’s truth of His Word by our words, actions, and everyday lifestyles. Otherwise, we become victims of our flesh or worse, co-workers of Satan by default.

Now is the opportune time to be found looking unto Jesus, drawing near to God, thereby allowing Him to draw near to us, while continuing in His Word as true disciples of Christ should. Today is the best time to begin or to continue to hide the Word of God in our hearts that we might not sin against Him by yielding to the many temptations that surround and permeate this evil, wicked, and adulterous 21st century generation.

In Closing:
Finally, there is no earthly temptation we cannot overcome if we are willingly being led by the Spirit of God, and willfully yielding to the living and sharper than any two-edged sword written Word of God. Be assured, temptation will present its ugly head in the circumstances of life. How we respond to temptation proves our either willingness to endure to the end, or in the end we will be found wishing we had!

Which will it be? Will we be found resisting the devil and his temptations, or will we be found deceived, and, in the end, destroyed because of our not being spiritually prepared to overcome by the blood of Jesus? The end of this present age is approaching. Many false prophets, according to Jesus and others, have come to deceive many. Let us not be found among them!

Let’s Pray:
Our Father in heaven, thank You for the biblical examples of the temptation of King Jesus and King David. We recognize it is our choice to make the correct decision concerning our response to the temptations of life that come to us. May You faithfully lead us by the Holy Spirit to make the right choices, to make the proper decisions, and to be completely prepared in advance of earthly temptations. May we side with Jesus in His resisting the temptations He faced. In Him Always, Amen!


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