There is much that we can learn from the time of Jesus’ temptation in the desert; here are 10 things that we can learn – but make sure you read the text first…
- This was a God-ordained, God-purposed time of testing.
Jesus was driven by the Holy Spirit.
We must remember that God is working all things 1) according to the counsel of his will (Eph. 1.11), 2) toward its proper end (Prov. 16.4), and, 3) together for the good of those who have been called according to his purpose. (Rom. 8.28). What we may see as random has been purposely willed by God.
That is why James says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1.2-4)
- Satan can only come as God ordains and allows. He does not come after us when God’s attention is diverted elsewhere, or when he thinks he can get the upper hand (refer to arm wrestling meme).
God is omnipresent – there isn’t a place where he is not; he is omniscient – there isn’t anything that he does not know; he is omnipotent – there is no power that can overcome him.
Remember Job; Satan could only do what God allowed (Job 1.12; 2.6). Remember Peter; Satan demanded to “sift him like wheat.” (Luke 22.31)
- We can only successfully pass through times of testing in the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus entered this time of testing full of the Holy Spirit.
We may think that we’re strong and self-sufficient, but the reality is we cannot face the devil on our own, in our own strength, for greater is he who is in us, than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4.4)
- We will be tempted when we are feeling strong, and we will be tempted when we are feeling weak. Jesus went directly into the desert from his baptism. “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Cor. 10.12)
- Whatever our particular weakness might be, Jesus can sympathize – he knows what we are going through. We do not know what specific temptations Jesus was subjected to outside of what is given in the text, but we do know that Jesus was “tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.” (Heb. 4.15).
- There are 3 areas of desire in play when temptation comes, described by the apostle John in his first letter (1 John 2.15-16): “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.”
- The lust of the flesh – the desire for things that bring us physical pleasure.
- The lust of the eyes – the desire for possessions.
- The pride of life – the bragging that comes from accomplishment and status.
These are the same desires that were at play when Eve ate of the fruit (Gen 3.6); they are the same desires that are at play in us. She “saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise…”
- It’s interesting to note that the tree of which God said not to eat from was not the only tree that was good for food and a delight to the eyes as “The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.” (Gen. 2.9)
We must be careful that we don’t start to view God’s provision as insufficient, or worse – we start to despise it. In Numbers 11.1-6, the Israelites came to despise the manna that God sent from heaven to feed them in the desert. If we do that, we open the door for temptation and become vulnerable to deception.
- We need to understand the deception of Satan; it is the two-fold lie that says: 1) there will be no consequences for our actions (“you will not certainly die.”), and 2) that you are lacking something – God is keeping something from you (“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil”).
When we start to see things that we desire as entitlements that have somehow been denied to us – look out –temptation is on its way.
- Just as Jesus was armed with the Word of God when he faced the devil, we need to be armed with the truth as we face temptation:
“Everything created by God is good…” (1 Tim. 4.4).
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…” (James 1.17).
God “has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (Eph. 1.3
“those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” (Prov. 34.10)
- Most of all, we need to remember that “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Cor. 10.13)
(“The devil made me do it” is not a valid defense.)
God has given us all that we need to face temptation and endure it.
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life” – (2 Peter 1.3)
At the end of his time of testing, Luke’s gospel says that the devil “departed from [Jesus] until an opportune time.” Satan is always on the prowl, “looking for someone to devour.” God himself tells us that “sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Gen. 4:7)
Let us be watchful; let us be diligent; let us stand firm – always.