The Devil Made Me Do It.

This was a line used by Geraldine, a personality invented by 70s comedian, Flip Wilson. Many people feel like when the devil tempts us to do wrong, we are compelled to give in. The devil makes us do it. But the temptation of Jesus helps us fight against any temptation we may face.

The Greek word peirazo can can be translated as “tempt” (Luke 4:1) or ‘test” (Revelation 2:2). The same event can be a ‘test’ when God stands in the forefront or ‘tempt’ where the Devil stands in the forefront. If we pass the ‘test’ we strengthen our spirit. If we yield to the ‘temptation’ we will weaken our spirit.

Satan made three unsuccessful attempts to tempt Jesus to do wrong. The fact that we have this account is because Jesus shared His temptation with His disciples to encourage us in our temptations. He was the only one there. We learn three lessons from these three temptations.

Temptation #1: Turn Stones to Bread.

And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. (Luke 4:3-4)

Don’t fulfill good desires the wrong way.

Food, hunger and eating are not wrong but the timing was wrong for Jesus.  He was in the wilderness to fast, not to eat. The Father had subjected Jesus to hunger for the same purpose Israel suffered hunger in the wilderness: to learn that man shall not live by bread alone. The source of the bread is more important than the bread itself. When we put our physical needs ahead of our spiritual needs we sin.  When we allow circumstances to dictate our actions instead of following God’s will, we sin. A life sustained by food only is a very poor life.

Behind the temptation was the implication that God was being unkind to let Jesus be so hungry for so long. The devil wants Jesus to presume on His relationship with God, to act as if God were there to serve His Son rather than the reverse. The temptation did not exist in an attempt to make Jesus doubt His sonship.  The test consisted of an attempt to make Jesus act independently of God.

Temptation #2: Fall Down and Worship Satan.

And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. (Luke 4:5-8)

Don’t take the easy way.

Jesus is given a real bargain: one momentary bow – the verb is aorist, suggesting a single act. Satan has always wanted worship, because Satan has wanted to be like God. He is offering Jesus what the Father has already promised – the kingdoms of the world.  Jesus could rule the world without the cross. He offered Jesus the kingdom without the cross, a temptation that has never lost its appeal (see Peter – Matt. 16:22). Satan had offered Jesus instant food and now instant fortune. There are no shortcuts to the will of God.  If we want to share in the glory, we must also share in the suffering.

Temptation #3: Jump from the Temple and God will catch you.

And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. (Luke 4:9-12)

Don’t expect God to bail you out.

In the first temptation the devil tried to reach Jesus through His weak spot, His hungry stomach. In the second, he tried to reach Jesus through those He loved – He could have them now. He now tries to reach Jesus through His strong spot, His faith in God’s Word. Jesus is now tempted to prove a faith He had just claimed in speech – “every word that comes out of God’s mouth”. If He refused to throw Himself down from the highest point of the Temple, it would prove that He really did not trust His Father. Jesus had rejected the first temptation because He trusted God to supply His need; now He is tempted through that very assurance. Sensationalism appeals to the flesh.  Demanding sensation proof is not evidence of faith but of doubt.

To jump from a height and then look to God to avert the natural consequences is wrong. What Satan is suggesting is that Jesus should needlessly thrust Himself into danger.  He would be creating a hazard where none previously existed. And for what?  To compel God to save Him miraculously.  It is a temptation to manipulate God.

Here are some lessons for us all:

  1. The devil tempts all of God’s people.

  2. Scripture is the best weapon against temptation.

  3. We do not have to give in to temptation.

I want you to remember something that you would much rather forget. I want you to remember the last time you were tempted and you said yes. Satan offered you something and you took it. He dropped his baited hook and you bit. I know it isn’t a pleasant thought. I know you’d rather put it out of your mind. But think about it for a moment. Now, let’s turn to a better thought. Let’s consider what you should have done instead of falling to the temptation. Do that the next time you are tempted. Resist the temptations of the devil. He is a ‘roaring lion looking for someone to devour‘ (1 Peter 5:8).

A mother took her children to the zoo. The lion exhibit had the animals in a large enclosure with guests walking on bridge-like walkway over the ground. While the mom was getting the baby out of the stroller, her other child walked through a gap in the fencing, just big enough for a 3 year old and stood on a rock inside the enclosure. When the mom realized what happened, she froze. If she screamed, she was afraid the lions would notice her child or her child would run away. She could not get through the opening – it was too narrow. So, she bent down and reached out her arms and called, “Come and give mommy a hug.” Her boy ran to her and was safe in her arms. That is what we should do when we recognize we are in danger of Satan’s temptations. Run to Jesus where we are safe in His arms.