Summary: Eight sermons that deal with eight unique characteristics of Jesus. Got the idea from Joe Causey.
Eight Unique Characteristics of Jesus
Several weeks ago we began to look at some of the unique characteristics of Jesus Christ. So far we’ve looked at His birth and His baptism. This morning in this message, we’re going to consider "His Temptation." We’re going to examine the temptation of Jesus and look at some tips on how you and I can overcome the devil’s trials and temptations. Read Matthew 4:1-11.
Remember three Sunday’s ago we looked at the virgin birth and talked about how it was a miracle. If you will remember our definition of a miracle is an interruption of the laws of nature. There are several miraculous aspects in this encounter, not all of which were performed by Jesus. Satan actually utilized some of his miraculous power. Don’t be surprised that the devil can perform miracles. That’s what makes the temptation of Jesus unique.
In the book of Exodus, Pharoah’s magicians were able to copy Moses’ miracles. And the Book of Revelation predicts the Antichrist will be able to perform miracles to deceive people. So don’t be enamored with miracles church, because not everything that is supernatural in this world is from God--Satan is capable of a few miraculous tricks as well. But the primary miracle is the method Jesus employed to overcome Satan, and it can be duplicated by every believer today. As we think about dealing with the devil and resisting temptation, I want to share some general spiritual principles from this passage, and then conclude by giving you some personal take-away truths.
(1) WE WILL SOMETIMES FACE GREAT CHALLENGES IMMEDIATELY AFTER GREAT BLESSINGS.
When we last saw Jesus He launched His ministry by being baptized. You would have thought He would have started preaching and healing right away. But instead, we read that immediately after His baptism, the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. The verb literally means the Spirit “drove” Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted—it was if God insisted Jesus go and face Satan.
So what’s wrong with this picture? One minute Jesus is standing in the Jordan River with water dripping off his face as the Holy Spirit flutters down and God the Father spoke His approval. In the next moment, Jesus is a hungry, worn out and under attack by the enemy. Dr. Adrian Rogers, called it “the principle of the devil after the dove.” He would say, “Whenever God opens the windows of heaven to bless you, the devil will open the doors of hell to blast you.”
There are plenty of examples in the Bible to prove this principle. The prophet Elijah stood on the top of Mt. Carmel and challenged 450 prophets of Baal. He said, “If Baal is God, then worship him, but if Jehovah is God, then worship Him, but stop wavering between the two.” He said the God who answered by fire would be the true God. The prophets of Baal built an altar and danced around all day begging Baal to send down fire. They even cut themselves to entice their false god to send fire. Toward the end of the day, Elijah started to mock them. In the scripture he literally says, “Hey, where is your Baal? Maybe he’s just out using the bathroom or he’s hard of hearing!” Finally Elijah said, “That’s enough. It’s time for church!” Elijah looked up to heaven and simply said, “Show ‘em who’s Boss!” And, “BOOM!” fire fell from heaven and burned up the sacrifice.
This had to have been one of the spiritual highlights of Elijah’s life. But do you remember what happened immediately afterward? Elijah became discouraged and we see him pouting under a juniper tree saying, “God, that’s enough. Take my life.” He was so low he was asking God to end his life. It’s the principle of the devil after the dove. Be prepared, because sometimes immediately after we enjoy great blessings we will encounter great challenges.
Why? It’s because God doesn’t want us to become arrogant or complacent. So don’t be amazed if you’re riding high in August and shot down in September. Jesus allowed Himself to go through this temptation experience so that it would be an encouragement to us as we deal with spiritual challenges.
(2) WE CAN RECOGNIZE THE TEMPTATION STRATEGY OF SATAN.
There were three specific temptations Satan tossed at Jesus, and they are the same temptations we face today. Satan isn’t very creative. He is the opposite of God and God is the ultimate Creator. Satan is the same old tired tempter he’s always been. He doesn’t have any new tricks. He’s stuck in a rut, and we really can recognize his strategy. That’s exactly what Paul wrote when he observed, “In order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” (2 Corinthians 2:11) Let’s examine these three temptations and learn how Satan uses them today to tempt us.