Summary: In the third temptation recorded by Matthew, Jesus was tempted toward idolatry and compromise.
Worship God Only Matt. 4:10
INTRO.: the third temptation of Jesus recorded by Matthew involved an attempt by Satan to solicit the worship of Jesus. This seems like the most blatant of all temptations. The seduction to idolatry.
The one thing God hates most is idolatry. Repeatedly, He affirms Himself to be a jealous God. For example, Exod. 20:4, 5. Before entering the promise Land, Israel received a stern warning against idolatry. Dt. 6:14, 15.
In asking for Jesus’ worship, Satan exalted himself above God, Who alone is worthy of our worship.
Satan was also tempting Jesus to take a "short cut" to the dominion He will eventually enjoy through His death and resurrection. It was meant to seem like an easy way to gain the kingdoms of the world. I doubt Satan could have given Jesus what he promised. Whether or not he could, I am certain he would not.
Satan is a liar and every temptation he sends is made to look good, desirable, or easy. His promises are always empty. Remember, when you are tempted to do what God forbids, Satan is trying to send you to hell for eternity. He will never keep his promises.
Jesus faces two dangers here.
I. The danger of idolatry:
A. Remember the story of the contest on Mt. Carmel.
1. Elijah had been away three years and there had been no rain. It was judgement on King Ahab.
2. Elijah challenged the people to forsake their idolatry.
3. The outcome shows God’s hatred for idolatry and His superiority over all idols. I K. 18:40
4. We must be very careful to avoid idols. I Jn. 5:21
5. To bow down and worship Satan would be an act of idolatry and God is a jealous God.
B. What about idolatry in our world today? Is it still practiced?
1. Islam and other eastern religions are gaining ground every day in America.
2. Church of Satan has about 30,000 members in North America. This doesn’t include those who practice witchcraft and other occult groups.
3. Many Americans worship things. We put them before God.
C. When I was a child, I was taught "there are many different roads to God." Each must choose his own road. Hogwash!
1. Jesus said, "I am THE way. No one comes to the Father but by me." John 14:6
2. I Cor. 10:14-20 - God’s people called upon to have nothing to do with idols.
3. Sensible people don’t try to combine Christianity with paganism. Paganism is demon worship.
4. Don’t be fooled into believing Allah or Buddha or any other occult deity is "just another name for God."
5. Christianity is exclusive and we will never win the world by compromising with evil.
II. The danger of compromise:
A. Satan is offering Jesus a fatal compromise. A shortcut.
1. Jesus must know the kingdoms of this world will be His.
2. But, He also knows it will be after the cross, not before.
3. Now Satan offers Him an apparently easy way tp get what He is destined to get anyway.
4. Satan doesn’t ask for lifelong fidelity. Just a moment of compromise.
B. It must have looked attractive, as temptations always do:
1. When Satan tempts us, he makes it look attractive. He doesn’t send an ugly woman with a sign saying "This way to hell."
2. No warnings appear on liquor bottles, "drink me and become an alcoholic."
3. He says, "skip worship and go to the lake, the deer lease, or lie in bed.", Not "skip worship and smash your toes with a hammer." He makes it look enjoyable to sin.
4. He made his plan look easier and more pleasant to Jesus than God’s plan. That’s the temptation
C. The goal was good: God intends to give all the kingdoms of the world to Jesus. I Cor. 15:25.
1. Have you ever been tempted to do a bad thing for a good reason? Like tell a little lie or compromise your convictions to avoid hurting someone’s feelings?
2. In God’s scheme of things, the end does not justify the means.
3. ILLUS.: a church didn’t get a water bill for years. They found a broken meter and didn’t report it because they thought the Church couldn’t afford to pay the bills. Eventually they got caught and it cost them thousands.
4. They bowed and worshiped Satan.
CONC.: the God we serve is described in Isa. 6. He is holy. He is Lord almighty. The entire earth is full of His glory. He is a God who cleanses us from sin through the blood of His Son.
With a God like we have, who would want to bow the knee before a moldy old dollar bill? Who would allow a few acres of dirt or a pile of wood and stone, no matter how well put together, separate us from such a God?
Who needs to bow before a statue or some other phony god who can do nothing for us? Do not worship false Gods. Do not compromise with the world.