Matthew 4:1-11 - Resisting the Tempter

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “It is also 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. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

This is a beautiful story of hope, encouragement, and inspiration to all of us because it shows us that we can resist temptation when it comes our way. In this story, we find Jesus tempted by the devil in three important aspects of life. Although the narrative is matter-of-fact, as Scripture often is, it isn’t hard to imagine the tremendous struggle Jesus went through in the desert. However, he resisted the temptations that came his way then, just as he resisted the other temptations he faced throughout his life. 

Now because of what Jesus went through, 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 empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet he did not sin.” (Hebrews 4:15). Therefore, he suggests that we “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

But we also learn how to resist temptation from Jesus. Three times he was tempted. Three times he resisted. How? Three times he quoted Scripture. First Deuteronomy 8:3, then 6:16, and the third time 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 many 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 them, please do so now. Audio podcasts are available through Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, and many other platforms. You can also get them delivered every morning through WhatsApp on +91 93214 56817. 

May the Spirit be with you.