Summary: A sermon about the nature of temptation and how we can overcome.
In Luke Chapter 4 it’s bread, power and safety.
But it could be something else because the point of it isn’t the specifics of the temptations as much as it is the nature of temptation itself.
We must remember that Jesus heads out into the wilderness, not on His own, but full of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus has just been baptized and has received His identity from God: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
But the devil is trying to undermine Jesus’ confidence in both God and Himself.
He is trying to undermine Jesus’ identity.
Jesus, of course, picks up on this.
Which is why when the devil temps Jesus with bread, Jesus responds with a declaration of His trust in God.
The next temptation is more easy to see through, offering Jesus the power of the world’s leaders in return for Jesus’ allegiance and worship.
But again, Jesus knows that His allegiance can only be given to the One from Whom He has received His identity.
Finally, the devil tells Jesus that God is not trustworthy, and he tries to get Jesus to test His relationship with God.
But Jesus refuses.
In the face of these temptations Jesus quotes Scripture from the time of Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness in order to reaffirm His identity as the Son of God.
Rooted in the Scriptures, Jesus reminds Himself not only that He has enough and is enough but that He is of infinite worth in the eyes of God.
Bread, power and safety.
Those are the things the devil temps Jesus with in order to try and get Him to move away from His trust and relationship with God.
But it just as well might have been youth, beauty and wealth.
Or confidence, fame and security.
On one level we experience specific temptations very concretely, but on another they are all the same…
…they seek to shift our allegiance away from God and toward some substitute that promises a more secure identity.
That’s why, on some levels, I think that Luke Chapter 4 is about Identity Theft.
And the devil not only tries to steal Jesus’ identity but ours as well.
All of us, in our natural state are sinners by nature and by choice and are slaves to sin apart from Christ.
But once we accept Jesus Christ’s free gift of salvation by grace through faith, we become born again and thus, children of God.
This becomes our new identity as the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us.
Again, Jesus’ time in the desert is similar to Israel’s forty years in the wilderness.
It’s a second run-through, shall we say.
Where Israel failed, Jesus remains obedient.
Jesus is, in fact, representative of what Israel was supposed to be…
…He is the New Israel…
…He is the New Adam…
…the Perfect Person…
…He takes our place in order to set things right between God and human beings.
And like the Israelites whose habits formed by slavery in Egypt must be discarded and new ways of complete trust in God must be formed…
…we, who were once in slavery to sin, must discard our old habits and ways…
Because, behold! All things have become new.
This is a life-long learning experience as we are continually tempted by the devil, as Jesus was, and must learn to rely on God—through the power of the Holy Spirt—as Jesus did in order to overcome the devil’s lies and live as new creatures in Christ…
…as Children of God—to live into our new identities.
It is so important that you and I seek to put all our trust in God and don’t give in to the devil’s schemes.
I mean, we are the Church of Jesus Christ and the devil is waging a huge battle against us.
If he can bring down the Church, how many souls can he keep for his own?
And, as we all know, the Church is has not always been good at remaining obedient to God.
Every scandal, every corrupt pastor or priest, every greedy television evangelist and even those who wed a certain brand of politics—no matter whether it be on the left or on the right—to Christianity and the Church are giving in to the devil and blurring the identity of the children of God.
And the world scoffs and walks away.
And the unsaved go without the light of Christ.
And those who do not know the love of Christ, continue to live without hope.
The desperate, the lonely, the seeking are not harvested for the Kingdom when the children of God are giving in to the temptations of the devil.
Now, certainly, we can’t hang it all on our shoulders.
It is God Who convicts.