Summary: “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every Word, that comes from the mouth of God”. (Matthew 4:4)
Our theme for today’s sermon in “overcoming temptation”. The first temptation was in the Garden of Eden where Satan tempted Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. Eve blamed the serpent by saying “the Devil made me do it”. God had given man power and authority over all creation, including the Devil. The only power Satan had was the power that Adam and Eve gave him. Adam and Eve gave him that power when they listened to him and believed his lies rather than what God had said. In Adam “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”, (Rom 3:23) and for this reason all of us today have became slaves of sin and Satan. Jesus Christ, born without a sin nature and tempted in all ways as we are yet did not sin, died to pay the wages of sin and to redeem man from slavery to sin and Satan. He has restored to man God’s power and authority so that we have no reason to say “the devil made me do it”. The season of Lent is to remind us of God’s love and the crucifixion of Christ and that whosoever believes in Him inherits eternal life, becomes a new creation with the power to overcome temptations.
Step One: Belief in Christ
a) Jesus Christ is God
Belief in Christ is necessary for overcoming temptation. It is believing and trusting Jesus Christ because He is God. The word of God clearly confirms that Jesus Christ is God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God”. (John 1:1-2) Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah. He is fully God. “All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made”. (John 1:3)
b) Jesus Christ is man
Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth”. (John 1:14)
c) Jesus Christ is Saviour
Jesus Christ became a man to save mankind. He shed His blood to pay the penalty for sin and redeem man from sin and Satan. Jesus Christ succeeded where Adam failed. He resisted and overcame every temptation of the enemy as a man to become a sacrifice without blemish to atone for sin.
The mission of Jesus Christ was to free mankind from slavery to Satan to serve God. His mission is clearly portrayed in the history of the Israelites. They were God’s chosen people but found themselves in slavery to the Egyptians. The Lord preserved them and delivered them out of Egyptian bondage with many signs and wonders through Moses. Jesus brings about a greater deliverance – deliverance from captivity to sin and to Satan. He gave up the glory of heaven to live a life of humiliation and self-sacrifice. His love for mankind was so great that He showed no concern for His own personal needs and rights.
As Christians, we need to know how much God loves us. God is love and does not love us because of anything we have done. Let us also love one another as Christ has loved us and gave His life for us.
Step Two: Areas of temptation
a) Creating doubt in the Word of God
We face temptations in different areas but can overcome when we remain focused on God and His Word. When the devil tempted Jesus when He was hungry to turn stone into bread, it was to make Him doubt His identity. At His baptism God, the Father had said “You are my beloved Son”. Satan left out the word beloved and said “If you are the Son of God”. He left out the word beloved because he wanted him to doubt who He is by implying that God was not providing for Him. Jesus focused on God’s Words and replied “It is written” and used Scripture to deal with the temptation.
b) Offering to bypass difficulties in life
The enemy is an expert at directing attention to ourselves rather than to God. He is always promising us an opportunity to bypass all the difficulties we face in life. “Just bow down and worship me and I will give you the world. Satan continues to use this temptation using people under his control.
c) Misapplication of the Word of God
The enemy knows the Bible but often misquotes it by leaving out the parts that do not suit him. When he tempted Jesus with a quotation from Psalm 91 he conveniently left out the part about making the LORD your dwelling place. Today many people use the Scriptures the same way, for personal gain and personal glory.