Summary: Standing strong under fire.
Today we are going to look at practical steps for standing strong when you are under attack! We will be using Christ’s temptation in the wilderness as our backdrop.
Then Jesus was led out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted there by the Devil.
Matthew 4:1 (NLT)
The first issue we need to address is "mountaintop experiences." Jesus was coming from a spiritual high point. He had just been baptized and during his baptism the Holy Spirit had descended upon him like a dove. God had expressed pleasure in His "Beloved Son."
The next thing we see is that Jesus’ faith was put to the test. When we come from our own mountaintop experiences we often find our faith under fire. Jesus was led to the place of testing by the Holy Spirit, but it is important to note that Satan was the tempter. God uses our trials and temptations to refine our character and strengthen our faith.
For forty days and forty nights he ate nothing and became very hungry.
Matthew 4:2 (NLT)
We see in verse 2 that a vulnerability was exposed, and of course Satan wasted no time in going after it. Jesus was physically weakened and therefore Satan had an opportunity for temptation. Think about the times when we tend to wrestle with temptation the most. When we’re tired, stressed, sick and alone the temptations seem to be intense at times. Satan is always aware of your condition, so it is critical that you be awer of your condition as well. Know when you are weak.
Then the Devil came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, change these stones into loaves of bread."
Matthew 4:3 (NLT)
Put yourself in Jesus shoes. Tired, weary and haven’t eaten for 40 days...it would have been easy to say "sounds good to me." Temptation often comes as a quick fix to our yearnings. Bread sounds awfully good to a hungry man...companionship sounds awfully good to a lonely man...escape sounds awfully good to a man under stress. Satan’s temptations are a challenge to your place in God’s kingdom. Satan tells us "If you really believe in God..." Our place as children of God is always put into question.
But Jesus told him, "No! The Scriptures say, ’People need more than bread for their life; they must feed on every word of God.’"
Matthew 4:4 (NLT)
Look at Jesus combats this attack. When temptation comes the foundation of your defense is the Word of God. Jesus stood on the Word and refuted the enemy with Scripture. Unfortunately many of us do not take the time to become acquainted with Scripture. It is important that Scripture become a part of you. Read the Word, Sing the Word, Pray the Word...whatever you do get into the Word, so that the Word gets into you.
Then the Devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the temple, and said, "If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ’He orders his angels to protect you. And they will hold you with their hands to keep you from striking your foot on a stone.’"
Matthew 4:5-6 (NLT)
Did you notice something? Satan said, "two can play the Scripture game." Notice something else? Satan presents Scripture with a little twist. Realize that the enemy knows Scripture too! Satan likes to take Scripture and add a little twist to it. If you don’t know the Word you’ll never recognize the twist. Remember, Satan is the author of confusion.
Jesus responded, "The Scriptures also say, ’Do not test the Lord your God.’"
Matthew 4:7 (NLT)
It is important that we test the spirit of the Word. Whatever challenge is thrown at us, we need to line it up with the rest of Scripture. If it is contrary to the nature of God, it is a lie from the deceiver himself. Jesus knew that Satan’s use of Scripture was in direct conflict with the very nature of God.
Next the Devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him the nations of the world and all their glory. "I will give it all to you," he said, "if you will only kneel down and worship me."
Matthew 4:8-9 (NLT)
Now we see the truth comes out. Satan ultimately desires the glory that is rightfully God’s. In fact his fall came from his desire to be just like God. Satan always promises great things with his temptations, but ultimately they end in destruction. Satan will steal, kill and destroy to take what is rightfully God’s.
"Get out of here, Satan," Jesus told him. "For the Scriptures say, ’You must worship the Lord your God; serve only him.’"
Matthew 4:10-11 (NLT)
This next point brings out the familiar scripture..."Resist the Devil..." We must never forget that Satan must yield to the authority of Christ. Christ in you, gives you that same authority. Sometimes we forget to just tell Satan to "scram."