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.) 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 to change
a person from the inside out.The
person that lasts is more important than the temporary physical
world. 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
in John 14:6 relates to the parts of the inner person
(the will/volition, the intellect/cognition, and the
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. 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. Interpreting laws with the wrong thoughts and motives leads to
circumventing the good intentions of the laws often with disastrous results.
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.
©2003 Perry Vernon Webb. You may quote this page in part or the whole as long as you
1) do not alter the wording and
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