Summary: The temptation of Jesus teaches us: 1. About the leadership of God's Spirit (vs. 1). 2. About the righteousness of our Savior (vs. 1-4). 3. About the power of Scripture (vs. 3-10). 4. About God providing new strength (vs. 11).
Spiritual Lessons from the Lord's Temptation
The Gospel of Matthew
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - January 23, 2013
(Revised November 13, 2020)
*How long has it been since you were tempted to sin? If it's been more than 24 hours, then maybe you haven't been paying attention. Or you are a very rare person, indeed.
*We must learn how to overcome temptation in our lives. And in this story of the Lord's temptation we will see how. But that's not all. Here God gives us at least four key spiritual lessons.
1. FIRST: THE TEMPTATION OF CHRIST TEACHES US ABOUT THE LEADERSHIP OF GOD'S SPIRIT.
*In the last chapter, Jesus was about to begin His public ministry. He humbled Himself to be baptized by John the Baptist. Then the Holy Spirit descended upon the Lord in the form of a dove. But here in chapter 4, the story takes an unexpected turn, because vs. 1-2 say: "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry."
*If sinful men were running the show, we would have led Jesus to a mansion on a hilltop, to the governor's house, or straight to the emperor's throne. But the Holy Spirit led Jesus out to a dry, barren wilderness without food. This fact reminds us that the Holy Spirit will sometimes lead us into difficult places. Thankfully, that's not the end of the story for us. Jesus is preparing a mansion for every one of His followers. But sometimes God's Holy Spirit will lead us to difficult places in life. We must not think that the Lord is always going to put us on easy street.
*George Young helps us understand this truth. George was a carpenter and little-known preacher in the 1800s. He spent a lifetime humbly serving the Lord in small communities. Financial support was often lacking, and it was hard on George's family. But through all the ups and downs his faithful wife never wavered in her loyalty to God and to her husband.
*After a long struggle, the family was able to move into their own small home which George built himself. But later when George was away preaching, some local thugs, who didn't like his Gospel message, set fire to the house. It was totally destroyed. But out of that experience George wrote this wonderful song:
"In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet, God leads His dear children along;
Where the water's cool flow bathes the weary one's feet, God leads His dear children along.
Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song, in the night season and all the day long."
*Sometime around 1942, years after George died, another hymn writer decided to track down his widow, and find out more of George's story. That song writer's name was Haldor Lillenas, and he found George Young's widow living in a County Poor House in a small out-of-the-way town.
*Conditions there were far from pleasant, but when Lillenas found Mrs. Young, she radiated the joy of the Lord, and spoke of how He'd guided her and her husband over many years.
*Then, she exclaimed, "Dr. Lillenas, God led me here!" I'm so glad He did, for you know, about every month someone comes into this place to spend the rest of their days. So many of them don't know my Jesus. I'm having the time of my life introducing them to Jesus! Dr. Lillenas, isn't it wonderful how God leads!" (1)
*Whenever we need leadership, God's Spirit will give it. And that's the first lesson from the Lord's temptation.
2. BUT THE TEMPTATION OF JESUS ALSO TEACHES US ABOUT THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF OUR SAVIOR.
*Of course, Jesus did not yield to the devil's temptations. The Lord never did yield to sin, even once. But why did Jesus even allow Himself to be tempted? There are at least 2 reasons:
 FIRST, HE ALLOWED HIMSELF TO BE TEMPTED IN ORDER TO SYMPATHIZE WITH US.
*Jesus Christ was certainly a flesh-and-blood man. He got hungry, thirsty, and tired. He felt pain. He shed tears. He bled when He was cut. And Jesus allowed Himself to go through all of this, so that He could sympathize with us.
*This is an amazing, encouraging truth for Christians, and Hebrews 4:14-16 puts it this way:
14. Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
15. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.