Summary: The Devil does not appear to us in a red suite with a pitchfork. In fact, Satans temptations are often attractive and fill legitimate needs - or seem to. Learn how Jesus fought these temptations and how we can as well.
An attorney was sitting in his office late one night, when the Devil appeared before him. The Devil told the lawyer, /’I have a proposition for you. You can win every case you try, for the rest of your life. Your clients will adore you, your colleagues will stand in awe of you, and you will make embarrassing sums of money. All I want in exchange is your soul, your wife/’s soul, your children/’s souls, the souls of your parents, grandparents, and parents-in-law, and the souls of all of your friends and law partners./’ The lawyer thought about this for a moment, then asked, /’So, what/’s the catch?/’
Not all temptations present themselves as overtly evil:
Last week a good friend told me a story of a time when he visited a place in a remote part of Oregon - normally dry and dusty, the citizens of this community had transformed the place into a paradise. There were lush gardens, huge bookstores and top notch facilities. All the women were beautiful. All the men were probably hot too but he was too busy looking at the women. In addition, he knew that this place had a very "free love" philosophy. Everyone was so nice and welcoming - it was very intoxicating. In that huge bookstore they had a whole section for James Dobson books - right next to one for Buddha.
It was a very attractive and tempting place - but my friend, who is a Christian, also sensed an evil in that place - it was an eerie, spiritual sense - but he felt it none the less. The place he was visiting was Rashneesh Puram - home to the Baghwhan Shree Rashneesh. This was the same group who tried to poison a U.S. attorney and were later run out of town. Now it/’s a youth camp owned by Young Life - I like the irony of that.
The subject of today is temptation. Someone once paraphrased a famous prayer: "lead us not into temptation for we can find the way ourselves." Temptation seems to find us in all kinds of places - and often when we least expect it.
Temptation is when you want to do something that glorifies self rather than glorifies God. Sin is when you actually do it. It/’s not wrong to be tempted. In fact, as a Christian, you will be tempted. The question is what we will do with it. Jesus too experienced temptation - and how He handled it gives us real instruction on how to face our enemy - the devil, who comes much more subtly than to the attorney - but with no less evil intent.
Verses 1 - 2
A couple of things to notice here.
1. Jesus was led "by the Spirit" to be tempted by Satan. Doesn/’t that seem a little odd? Doesn/’t God always lead us along garden paths full of good things and joy and peace? Yet here the Spirit leads Jesus to a time of great personal struggle and temptation. Why? I/’ve often wondered about this. Was there ever any question that Jesus would fail? I don/’t think so. So why did God do it and why did Satan do it?
2. Was Lucifer simply a puppet playing out some divine show? I don/’t think that either. I think Satan would try anything to disrupt God/’s plans - even if he knew it was a suicide mission. Clearly from some of the rest of this chapter, the demons already knew who Jesus was - so their master would have too.
The testing I think wasn/’t so much to find out whether Jesus would fail but to prove that He would succeed against any odds.
3. Notice too that Jesus was hungry. He really went 40 days without food. It is humanly possible, but on the far fringes of possibility. So He was weak and probably tired too. Ever tried to camp out in the wilderness for a night or two? How about 40 nights?
And that/’s when Satan pounces. You know, Satan knows just the right time to strike you too. Do you often wonder why when you are discouraged something really awful happens? When you are weak some big temptation just happens to come along. It/’s no accident.
Satan/’s temptations here go along a very important path:
Verses 3 - 13
This is familiar territory for the devil. These three temptations are of the same ilk that he used of the first human he encountered in the Garden of Eden: Eve. In Genesis 3 Satan, in the guise of a serpent, got Eve to do the one thing God told her not to do: eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil.
Satan did it by getting Eve to doubt God/’s Word that if they ate of it they would die.