What Christians Pursue
The Pursuit of Resisting Temptation
Matthew 4:1 - 11
10 July 2016
Nations have a plan for dealing with national threats like war. As Christians, are we equipped to fight the "fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul" (1 Pet. 2:11)? In Matthew 4:1 - 11, we see that Christ has conquered temptation, and therefore can help us too.
We are to resist self-reliance (v. 1 - 4). The first temptation Jesus faced in the wilderness was to stop relying on the provision of God. Satan said to Him, "if you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." Having not eaten for 40 days and nights, He was at the point of starvation, but refused to doubt God's providence and make bread Himself. He answers Satan from the Word: "Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." He knew that God, who by His very words made and sustains the entire universe, was able to provide bread for Him at the right time.
We are to resist forcing God's hand (v. 5 - 7). Second, Satan took Jesus into Jerusalem, at the top of the Temple. Knowing that Malachi 3:1 prophesied that the Lord would suddenly appear at His temple, Satan tempts Jesus to reveal Himself as the Messiah before His time by throwing Himself down. Satan even quotes Psalm 91 out of context to presume upon God's protection, but Christ again quotes Scripture: "you shall not put the Lord your God to the test."
We are to resist instant gratification (v. 8 - 10). Last, Satan showed Jesus "all the kingdoms of the world and their glory," promising Jesus the world if He would worship him. Psalm 2 promised Christ all the nations as an inheritance, but Satan offered a shortcut by doing things his way. Christ again rebukes Satan with Scripture, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only." When Satan offers us glory, we must choose God for who He is, not what He gives us.
Christians are in a state of war against sin. But we are not without defense. Christ has gone before us, defeated sin, and we can follow in His stead. What are things to remember when facing temptation?
- Keep God first. Find your fulfilment in God, not things.
- Believe in the inerrancy and infallibility of God's Word. Jesus fought temptation by quoting Scripture because He knew "it is written" by God, and is living and active (Heb. 4:12).
- Believe in the sufficiency of scripture. Christ relied upon the written Word in the wilderness in order to face temptation.
- Be sound in doctrine. The devil can twist Scripture to make it say what He wants. We must know what it really says (2 Tim. 2:15).
- Trust God, not yourself (Prov. 3:5 - 8).
- Watch and pray, knowing that the Christian life is a constant state of war. We must be on alert.
- Be encouraged, "for we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15).