"The Devil Made Me Do It"
Intro: If we were to have a tug-of-war, who would you want on your team? Probably one side would call for Tim Brown or Tim Boren, the other side would call for Mike Moore. Yet when the contest was over, where was the battle lost or won? It was not a question of who was the strongest person on your team, but who was the weakest. Not the ability of just one person, but the combined resources of the group. In the Christian life, ultimately the battles we face are not over the areas in which we are the strongest, but in the areas of our weakness.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting for 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 does 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.
Jesus was as human as we are. He is led away by the Spirit of God to be tested, to be proven. Ultimately, the goal of the Spirit is not to see him fail, but to prove that he will not fail. The Spirit that leads him into the wilderness is the same Spirit that came upon him at his baptism. The testing of Christ is ultimately a source of victory. Which of you would want to use a parachute if I said, "It’s really good, my mother crocheted it herself." We would be somewhat skeptical. Likewise, what about if I took a chemical set, mixed chemicals together and said, "Here, try this, it’s good." You’d probably say, "Let someone else try it first."
Jesus is led away to be tempted. I love the understatement of scripture. After fasting for forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. You bet he was! He was probably ready to eat those scorpions running around. In the midst of his weakness and vulnerability, Satan comes and hits him with three attacks.
I. Questioning God’s Provision - Satan first tries to tempt him on the physical area. After being so hungry, Satan points out all of the rocks around him. Satan reminds him that he has the power to turn the stones into bread to satisfy his human hunger. What is Jesus’ answer? "It is written." Jesus quotes the scriptures. Why does he do that? I once heard a powerful message by E. V. Hill, a black minister in the PromiseKeepers circles who said that the reason Jesus answered with scripture was so that we would have an example to follow. Jesus could have refuted the devil with his brilliant wisdom. He could have left and avoided the devil. But instead he chose to do something that we can do: He used the word of God.
What was Satan’s ultimate temptation: really it was to question the provision of God. Paul writes, But my God shall supply all your needs. do we really believe that? It is so very easy to believe that if we want anything, we need to get it for ourselves.
1 John 4:15-17 tells us, Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does-- comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives for ever.