These are my notes from a sermon series I did through the book of James. It has not been proofed for spelling or grammatical errors. I present it to you as-is.
Let’s dive into it. Matthew 4:1,
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. 2 For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. 3 During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say,
‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, 6 and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say,
‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’” 7 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”
8 Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” 10 “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”
11 Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.
Before we get into this I want to tell you that sometime in the future we need to come back to this event in Jesus’ life and absorb as much as we can from it. There is a gold mine of transformational truth is this encounter about life, Jesus, spiritual warfare, God, meaning, and purpose. But today, all I want you to see is the big picture when it comes to the three categories of temptation.
All temptation can be placed into one of three categories: pleasure, protection, or pride. The reason you need to know this is so that you can be aware of the devil’s schemes against your life. Knowing what you are about to hear is a part of your arsenal against the warfare the devil has declared on you.
What are the three types of temptations?
Temptations dealing with pleasure
The first type of temptation are temptations dealing with pleasure. God tells us in Matthew 4:3, During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”
- “During that time” – Jesus had been fasting forty days and forty nights. He was doing something spiritual. But it was during that time of hunger and thirst that the “the devil came” to tempt Jesus. The tempter does not just show up because he happens to be passing by. He has certain temptations that are more influential at certain times. The tempter will wait until the time is right. He will show up “during that time” when you are alone, when no one is looking, or when that person shows up. He will show up “during that time” when you are angry, when you are desperate, when you are confused, when you are doubting, when you are lonely, or when you are depressed.
- “If you are the Son of God” – When the tempter said, “If you are the Son of God,” he wasn’t questioning whether or not Jesus was who He claimed to be. The devil knew that Jesus was the Son of God. This statement, “If you are the Son of God” is a rhetorical statement. It actually means “since you are the Son of God.” The devil is agreeing with Jesus about who He is.
- “tell these stone to becomes loaves of bread” – Many of the stones in the area where Jesus lived and did ministry looked like fresh baked loaves of bread. This would be very appealing and tempting for Jesus, because He could turn the stone to bread. Later Jesus will turn water into wine, multiply two loaves of bread and fish so it will feed thousands. Turning stones into bread can easily be done by Jesus. So the tempter comes to Jesus and says, “Look, you are the Son of God and you have been fasting and praying on this spiritual retreat for 40 days. You have proven you are committed to your heavenly Father. It is now time to reward yourself. Go ahead, turn the stone to bread and eat. The sacrifice of fasting is now over, reward yourself with pleasure.”
This is very subtle by the tempter. You have done so much good. You work hard. You try to do what is right. It cost you. You know you are not perfect, but you are dedicated and you need to reward yourself. God understands. He won’t mind if you take matters into your own hands and satisfy your needs in your own way. Go ahead and turn your stone into bread. You don’t need to wait on God, you can do it your way. You deserve this, you are a child of God. It will be okay.
This little appeal to our pleasures is how the tempter gets us to act independently of God. The devil doesn’t care how far out of God’s will you step, as long you take one step out of God’s will he is happy. In this type of temptation you hear statements like this: “If it feels good do it,” “If it makes you happy go ahead,” or “It’s okay to enjoy yourself, no one will get hurt.”
Jesus responded with Deuteronomy 8:3 when He said, “People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” That “bread” can be anything. For some that bread is more money, better health, a different spouse, better children, or a better job. If I had more money then I could really live. If I had a better spouse, then my life would be complete. If I was healthy again, then I could really experience life. If I had a better job, better kids, better career… If I was smarter, better looking, had more friends… then I could have a real life. That’s all bread and we do need bread and in some degree, better the bread better the life. The Tempter comes along and wants you to be consumed with the bread ONLY.
But Jesus comes along and says, “People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” This is why people who seem to have it all find it difficult to be truly happy and experience meaning and significance and value. When your life focuses on the bread without God’s truth in your life you will eventually find yourself empty. Whatever your bread is, you don’t need it as much as you think you do to be fulfilled and in God’s will. God’s abundant life is found in the pages of God’s Word. Jesus knew that the tempter was trying to get him to focus only on the bread rather that God’s will… and he will do the same to you.
Temptations dealing with protection
A second type of temptation are temptations dealing with protection. Take a look at Matthew 4:5, Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, 6 and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’” 7 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”
This is very subtle. This time Satan tried to use the Word of God against Jesus. The tempter was saying, “Ok, Jesus. If you intend to live by God’s Word then let me quote You a verse of Scripture and see if You will obey it!” So from the “highest point of the Temple” (which was about 500 feet), the tempter quoted from Psalm 91 where God promised to care for His own. The tempter was saying, “If you really believe the Bible, then jump! Let’s see if the Father cares for you! Let’s see if He will provide. Let’s see if He will protect. Let’s see if He will keep His Word to you.”
The devil is sneaky. So, if you are one of those, like me, who believe God’s Word and wants to honor God by obeying God’s Word and doing God’s Word then you need to be aware that the devil will try to get you to believe something about God’s Word that is wrong. He will use the Bible against you. In this case, the devil misquoted Psalm 91.
- The devil’s version says, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’
- God’s Word actually says, “For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. 12 They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone” (NLT).
We must never separate one scripture from another. They all go together and are connected. In the context of Psalm 91 that little phrase the devil left out, “wherever you go,” is referring to wherever you go in God’s will. This is a promise that God will protect you in His ways. God does not promise to protect you outside of His ways. Remember, temptation is an invitation to fulfill a God-given desire or need outside of God’s ways.
One of the reasons why I teach the Bible the way I do is because of this encounter Jesus had with the tempter. When I teach a passage of Scripture like our series through James I will usually go phrase by phrase and sometimes word by word. It is important that you see the details of some scripture because the tempter will try to help you not see what’s actually there in order to get you to believe what he wants you to believe rather than what God wants you to believe and understand. Once he does that then he can get you to live outside of God’s will even when you think you are living within.
Jesus responded to the tempter by quoting Deuteronomy 6:16 which says, “You must not test the Lord your God.” We tempt God when we put ourselves into circumstances that force God to work miracles on our behalf. The diabetic who refuses to take insulin and argues, “Jesus will take care of me,” may be tempting the Lord. We can do this with our health, our finances, our relationships, or our safety.
The tempter wants to tempt you to try to force God’s hand on a matter. Because the tempter knows if God does not come through the way you think God should come through then there may be a good chance of you to start doubting God, rejecting God, or even hating God and turning your back on God.
Temptations dealing with pride
A third type of temptation are temptations dealing with pride. Take a look at Matthew 4:8, Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” Here is what the tempter was saying, “Jesus, if you will do it my way I will give you power, prestige, and wealth. You can have it all. All you have to do is do it my way. My way is a shortcut to what you really want. It’s easier than God’s way and you will find yourself happy and fulfilled. Instead of loving God and sacrificing for Him, love me and sacrifice for me and you can have it all.”
Here is what this looks like…
- “kneeling down and worshipping” the tempter is ignoring God with your finances by not tithing and giving, by not having a biblical budget that includes Him, blessing others, savings, paying your bills, etc. and you focus all your money on your needs, your desires, and your happiness.
- “kneeling down and worshipping” the tempter is ignoring God with your marriage by not loving your spouse, cherishing your spouse, honoring your spouse and ignoring what the Bible says about your relationship with them.
- “kneeling down and worshipping” the tempter is ignoring God with your relationship with others. Instead of being loving, you reject. Instead of being forgiving, you hold a grudge. Instead of being kind, you are rude. Instead of being compassionate, you are insensitive.
All the devil wants you to do is to accept his invitation to fulfill your desires and wants outside of God’s will.
Jesus responded by quoting Deuteronomy 6:13 when He said, “You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him” (NLT). Jesus knew what the tempter was trying to do. The tempter was trying to get Him to live His life outside of the will of God and the tempter is trying to do the same to you. You purpose in life is found in worshiping and serving God, not serving just you. When you are being selfish and self-centered you are doing exactly what the tempter wants you to do.
Just as the devil tempted Jesus, he will tempt you.
- First, he will try to get you to distrust God’s providential care and to try to solve your problems, win your struggles, and meet your needs by your own plans and in your own power.
- Second, the devil will try to get you to presume on God’s care and forgiveness by willingly putting yourself in the way of danger – whether physical, economic, moral, spiritual, or any other way. Satan wants you to tempt God by forcing His hand to rescue you.
- Third, the devil will appeal to your selfish ambitions and try to get you to use your own schemes to fulfill the promises God has made to you. Instead of God doing it, you are doing it.
Regardless of the temptation, Jesus demonstrates THE key to victory… God’s Word. Knowing it, declaring it, and doing it. This is why it is so important for you to be faithful in reading and studying the Bible, attending a Bible teaching church, and committed to a Life Group to discuss God’s Word.
This event between Jesus and the tempter ends by saying, Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus. God is going to take care of you. When you are tired, God will give you strength. When you are emotionally worn out from dealing with the testings, temptations, and trials in this world, God will encourage you.