March 01, 2020 (Sunday) - Resisting the Tempter - A Reflection on Matthew 4:1-11

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’ ” Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

This is a wonderful story of hope, encouragement and inspiration as Lord Jesus is tempted by the devil on three important aspects of life and he resists the temptation all three times. There are some who say that our Lord couldn’t sin, but that is absurd because there would have been no point in his being tempted if he couldn’t sin. He was tempted, not just on this occasion, but right through his life. However, he managed to resist temptation and emerge victorious.

Consequently, he understands what we go through. The author of the letter to the Hebrews tells us that “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Therefore, he suggests that we “approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

But we also learn how to resist temptation from Lord Jesus. Three times he was tempted. Three times he resisted. How? Three times he quoted Scripture. First from Deuteronomy 8:3, then from 6:16, and the third time from 6:13. Our Lord must really have liked that book. It illustrates the power inherent in the word of God to resist temptation. Not for nothing does Paul call the word of God the sword of the Spirit (see Ephesians 6:17).  Let me illustrate how this works in real life.

Let us say the devil tempts you with a night of sensual pleasure with somebody you met at a party. He might even quote Scripture to you, telling you that Jesus did tell us to love our neighbor. However, if we knew Scripture, we’d say, “It is written: Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).

The power, of course, does not come from merely quoting the words, but from a proper understanding of what they mean and a belief in the truths they state. If we understand and believe that “our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who lives in us, whom we have received from God,” not only would we resist sexual temptation, we would resist a lot of other temptations that come our way because we would want to honor God with our bodies.

So read the word. Study it. Memorize it. And meditate upon it. These reflections are a great way to do that, so if you haven’t subscribed to these reflections, please click the subscribe button below and the bell icon alongside. God bless you.