An Even Deadlier Temptation
Text: Matthew 4:1-11
Satan may have been rebuffed, but before too long, he came right back! This time round, the temptation was even deadlier. The level of subtlety was that much more devious! The Devil is most dangerous when he starts citing Scripture.
“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 over you.’ And,
‘In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ”
Satan continued to play on the line of Jesus being “The Son of God”. There were many privileges that God had given to His beloved Son. One of these were angels to attend to Him.
The Devil knew enough of the Scriptures to call up this text and then present it to Jesus! Both texts were correctly stated. However, they were misapplied!
WOULD JESUS BE ABLE TO SEE THROUGH SATAN’S PLOY?
Would Jesus be able to see through this ploy of the Devil? He must or He would lose this round of temptation. All Satan needed was to cause Jesus to falter and fail just once, and His messianic work would end there and then.
Jesus saw through the Devil’s attempt to misquote and misapply the Scriptures. Mere quotation of the Scriptures is not the same as citing the Scriptural texts correctly. If there was any attempt to twist the meaning of the Scriptures, that would constitute violation. Jesus knew that Satan was violating the Scriptures in the way he cited the Scriptures.
Jesus did not debate the Scriptures with Satan. There was no need for debate. Jesus referred to another text in the Scriptures, that over-rode Satan’s misapplication of the Word of God.
“Jesus said to him, ‘It is written again, ‘You
shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ‘ ”
What great insight Jesus displayed. Let us ponder over how He dealt with Satan when the second temptation was attempted.
1. He saw through the Devil at once. He was not fooled nor was He impressed by the Devil’s quotation of the Scriptures!
2. Wisely, He did not enter into a debate with the Devil concerning the texts employed.
3. He merely appealed to another text that over-rode the Devil’s argument.
a) Angels were indeed given to Jesus to look after Him, however they were not held responsible for the foolish antics of a presumptuous person!
b) However, Jesus was not to tempt (read, “test”) God by foolishly risking His life by jumping off the pinnacle of the Temple.
4. Jesus acknowledged God as His Lord and thus He could not put God to the test this way. This was expressly forbidden. Jesus cited the text from the Book of Deuteronomy.
“You shall not tempt (test) the Lord your God
as you tempted Him in Massah.”
THE SECOND TEMPTATION HINGED ON THE FIRST
In actual fact, Satan sought to hinge his second temptation on the first one. The first time Satan tempted Jesus, he was trying to explore and discover areas of weaknesses if any. Finding none, he took a chance on citing the Scriptures, since this was the way Jesus chose to go.
He did not know if Jesus knew His Scriptures all that well. However, there was nothing to lose. To the casual reader of the Bible, the Devil would appear to have cited the Scriptures quite correctly. However, to an astute and discerning student of the Scriptures, both temptations may be cast aside easily, if there is a good grasp of the Biblical text!
THE ROLE OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD IN THESE TEMPTATIONS
It was the Holy Spirit who led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He would not just leave Jesus to fend for Himself. He did not unfairly limit the powers of the Devil when he tempted Jesus. There was no need to do that. The presence of the Spirit of God, His infilling and His power were more than sufficient to defeat the Devil.
Jesus was able to defeat the Devil yet again through the ministry of the Holy Spirit in His life. Though we do not have a direct mention of the Spirit’s role, the entire context of how the Spirit of God came upon Jesus, and how He led Him into the wilderness to be tested, must not be dismissed lightly. His role, as usual, is a quiet and invisible one. Nevertheless, His role is a powerful and indispensable one!
A STRONG RAY OF ENCOURAGING HOPE
Satan defeated again! What great news! Let us be further encouraged by this precious word found in the following text. We can be overcomers too.
“You are of God, little children, and have overcome
them, because He who is in you is greater than he
who is in the world.”
1 John 4:4