Summary: Only through Christ can we have victory in life.

Matthew 4:1-11

“Dueling With The Devil”

By: Kenneth Emerson Sauer

Pastor, Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA

If I recall correctly through my very limited

knowledge of Greek mythology, Achilles was the guy who was dipped head first into the River

Styx, and this made him immortal and invulnerable, except for his heel that he had been held by.

Achilles later suffered a mortal wound to his heel---his vulnerable spot.

And Satan is quick to notice our Achilles heels....and this is where he stoops for his


Since Jesus had fasted 40 days and nights, the devil figured He would be famished and,

like Esau, be willing to sell His soul for a pot of stew or loaves of bread.

But Jesus was ready with the defense: “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone,

but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

The devil tempted Christ to use His own power to meet both a personal and a world-wide

need: hunger.

No doubt Jesus had seen how Roman taxes ground down the poor.

Humanity’s pathetic struggle for livelihood must have touched Christ’s heart.

Surely it is righteous and merciful to overturn social injustice; surely it is by that path

that the kingdom shall come.

What a subtle temptation!

But the problem is that Christ came to save humankind from sin and death.

We all sin and fall short of God’s glory, and the payment we receive for these sins is


Therefore, the center of Christ’s mission was not an economic crusade.

Jesus would not live merely for time, or forsake the Cross for a bakeshop.

Human beings do live by bread, and economic righteousness is a Christian concern; but

we do not live by bread alone.

All the bread in the world can not save a single soul.

Bread gives us life for a brief time, but Jesus gives us life for eternity.

Remember how the crowds followed Jesus after the feeding of the five thousand?

And what did Christ tell them?

“You are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the

loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal


Then Jesus went on to say, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has


There is a spiritual hunger that is just not met by bread.

As a matter of fact there is nothing that can fill our spiritual hunger other than Christ.

This is why Jesus has declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never

go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Do Christians experience physical hunger and physical thirst?

Of course! And in this life we always will!

Can Christians die of starvation or lack of water?

You better believe it!

But when a person comes to Christ....when a person believes in Christ...really believes in

Christ for his or her salvation.....his or her spiritual needs are fulfilled!

Can someone who has been born again through the Bread of Life die the death that one

deserves and go to hell?

Absolutely not!!!

I’m sure most of you have heard Frank Sinatra’s song: “I Did It My Way.”

And this is what sin is.

Satan was tempting Jesus to do things from a perfectly logical human perspective....

And we are also often tempted to try set up a different means of accomplishing

something...a means that is our way--not God’s way.

Basically what Jesus said, and what we too need to do is to make the sing a

different sing... “I’m Going To Do It God’s Way.”

Here at the beginning of His ministry Jesus is subjected to the devil’s scheming and


Like the Hebrew word for “Satan,” the Greek word for “devil” means “accuser” or


The devil is a personal being, not a mere force or influence.

He is the great archenemy of God and the leader of the hosts of darkness and everything

that is evil.

Just as God loves us more than we can comprehend or imagine...and is doing everything

to save us, the devil hates us more than we can comprehend or imagine and is doing everything

he can to destroy us.

Every time the devil attacked Jesus....Jesus spoke the Word of God.

This shows us the importance of knowing who we are.

All sin comes from a deluded or perverted sense of the self.

In His baptism, Jesus received affirmation of His identity as the Son of God.

In all these temptations, Satan’s tactic is to bring about doubt in the mind of Jesus

concerning the truth of His identity.

Satan led off his assault, “If you are the Son of God....”

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