The Source of Temptations

(Also see Luke 4:1-13.)

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil...

1) "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." ...

2) Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. ...

3) "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me." ...

(entire text Matthew 4:1-11, NIV)
How do you persuade someone you love to do what's right? As Jesus contemplated His ministry on earth, Satan tempted Jesus with wrong ways to influence people. Jesus' successful resistance to temptations contrasts Him with the first Adam (Romans 5:12-19). One aspect of Satan's temptations was to challenge the kind of ministry Jesus would have, a ministry that would change people and restore them to God. (Jesus faced these temptations throughout his ministry
(Matthew 12:38-39; 16:1-4; Mark 8:11-12; Luke 11:29-30; John 2:18-19; 6:15; 6:25-35)
.) While these temptations weren't a threat to Jesus, they set an example for us.Christians now continue Jesus' ministry and face similar temptations.
God sent His Son into the world
(John 3:16-21)
to change a person from the inside out
(Jeremiah 31:31-34)
.The person that lasts is more important than the temporary physical world
(Matthew 24:35; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; 1 John 2:17)
. Satan urges us to shortcut change to make it superficial. Satan attacked each of the three parts of the inner person. In Matthew the order of Satan's temptations as they relate to the inner person are in the opposite order from how the way, the truth, and the life in John 14:6 relates to the parts of the inner person (the will/volition, the intellect/cognition, and the emotions/intuition/instincts).

The temptation to turn stones into bread appealed to the instinct of hunger. Beyond Jesus' own hunger was the temptation to use His power to feed a hungry world. The temptation focused on meeting physical needs while neglecting life's true purpose. The temptation saw meeting physical needs as an end in itself, rather than the relationships gained through sharing physical resources (1 Corinthians 13).

Jumping tempted Jesus to dazzle people with the miraculous (maybe even to give the appearance of Him descending from Heaven). That temptation focused on external appearances. Limiting truth to perception ("I only believe what I see") makes truth relative rather than absolute. Parents fall to this temptation when they tell their children a white lie to get them to obey.

Satan's temptation to worship him was the temptation to bring people into submission by governmental might rather than leading them to let God rule through faith
(Luke 17:20-21,John 18:36-38)
. It sees doing the right thing as more important than having the right thoughts and motives. But, laws forcing correct action devoid of good motives leads to hypocrisy
(Matthew 15:7; Matthew 23:23-28)
. Interpreting laws with the wrong thoughts and motives leads to circumventing the good intentions of the laws often with disastrous results
(John 7:16-19; 2 Peter 3:15-16)

Satan tempts us to reduce life to the physical, technical, and scientific and ignore relationships with people and with God, bypassing the spiritual aspect of life. Satan tempts us to dazzle with appearance, even to the point of shallow hypocrisy or deceit, rather than to struggle with the overwhelming depth of God's absolute truth. Satan tempts us to force people to be good against their will rather than to build goodness through character and integrity based on faith in God.