The Temptations of Jesus

After being baptized by John, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where He fasted for forty days and nights (Matthew 4:1-11). Fasting is when a person makes a choice to eat no food (the only thing he would consume was water). It was often done to show devotion to God and was often accompanied by prayer and Bible study.

Most fasting was only done for a short period of time (a day or even part of the day). But Jesus fasted for forty days! That was an incredibly long period of time. Jesus was not trying to set a world record for the number of days He could go without eating. Instead, He was beginning His ministry and this was a time to think about His work and devotion to God.

Since the Lord was also fully man while on this earth, it was at the end of the forty days of fasting that He became hungry. The devil (or tempter) then came to test Him. He knew that if he could persuade Jesus to sin, then God’s entire plan to save us would be destroyed. Jesus as a sinner could not die for the sins of the world (2 Corinthians 5:21). But instead of giving in to Satan’s temptations, Jesus resisted every one of them!

I want to encourage you to read Matthew 4:1-11 this week. As you do consider the following points:

  1. The things Satan offered were not wrong within themselves.  The first temptation involved turning stones into bread, thus satisfying hunger (certainly there was nothing wrong with eating!). The second one involved jumping off the highest point of the temple and letting God save Him. The third one involved Jesus ruling the kingdoms of the world.
  2. Yielding to these temptations would have demonstrated a lack of trust in God.                                                                                                                             a.  In the first temptation, Jesus could have easily turned those stones into bread. But He knew that God had a plan to provide for Him, and submitting to Satan’s suggestion would have been a failure to trust in God’s plan. Even though He was extremely hungry, Jesus humbly resisted Satan’s idea and once the temptation ended, angels came and ministered to Him (Matthew 4:11). It is likely that these angels gave Jesus the food He needed. Satan wanted Jesus to think “God will not take care of you.” He was wrong!                                                       b.  In the second temptation, Jesus could have thrown Himself off the temple and commanded angels to save Him. But again, He trusted that God would come to His aid once this ordeal was over. In fact, it is interesting that Satan misapplied Psalm 91:11-12 to persuade Jesus. These verses are about trusting in God’s care, but Satan tried to use them to teach the opposite! Jesus certainly recognized this and refused to let Satan put God to the test (Deuteronomy 6:16).   c. In the final temptation, Satan promised Jesus that if he bowed down and worshiped him, he would then give Him all the kingdoms of the world. This temptation failed because Jesus knew that was God’s plan anyway (Revelation 11:15). God was going to give His Son all the kingdoms to rule over as Lord, but it was going to be accomplished through Him suffering and dying on the cross. Satan wanted Jesus to take the shortcut! Jesus refused to worship Satan and trusted His Father.
  1. Jesus defeated Satan by doing two things:                                                               a.  He answered each temptation by using scripture (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10). He knew the scriptures and accurately applied them. Let’s follow His example (Psalm 119:9-11; 2 Timothy 2:15; Hosea 4:6).                                                                        b. But beyond quoting and using scripture, ultimately Jesus defeated Satan because He trusted His heavenly Father. He trusted in what the scriptures promised and God took care of Him. In God’s time Jesus received food, strength, and the kingdoms of the world. Trusting in God the Father led to the best outcome, and the same will be true in our lives today (Proverbs 3:5-8).

From this account we see that the devil is a ferocious enemy. He was alive and active in the time of Jesus, and the same is true today (1 Peter 5:8). But when we know and trust in God’s word we too can defeat him! Always remember that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). There is always a way out of temptation. As James 4:7 says, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Did not these very things happen in the case of our Lord (Luke 4:13)?

– Shawn Jeffries

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Adultery, Sin, and The Ashley Madison Affair

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Millions of philandering (and would-be-philanderer) spouses were “outed” last month when the Ashley Madison website was hacked. The personal information of 39 million users from 53 countries was leaked. Aftershocks from these revelations were felt from the Pentagon to the pulpit.

A bevy of investigations was launched among government employees over the security breach. Some of the exposed website users committed suicide. Others resigned from their work or lost their job – including Ashley Madison’s CEO. It was even reported that some 400 clergy resigned publicly from their ministries on Sunday August 30, 2015.

The Ashley Madison website offered a simple product: Adultery. Their trademarked slogan was, “Life is short. Have an affair.” For one subscription price, the website would moderate customer information to help facilitate a potential affair for users. But for a premium rate the website practically guaranteed an extra-marital affair.

Yet the adulterers and adulteresses face terrible consequences for their sin. Publicly there is scandal, disgrace, and potentially unemployment. Privately there is broken trust, broken hearts, and possibly divorce. Some adulterers even go to rehab.

So how did the Ashley Madison website persuade people to pay for the privilege of losing everything?

Ashley Madison offered an approach to the sin of adultery that promised, “Sin is safe.” They marketed a particular temptation. For the disenchanted spouse, or simply the curious, this company presented the illusion that adultery is easy, fun, popular, fulfilling…and no one will ever know.

This is always Sin’s pitch. One can replace adultery with any number of unrighteous deeds that the Bible condemns and see people running headlong into them because they are deceived.

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God,” 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, NKJV.

Sin does not work the way Ashley Madison promised. The Bible tells us how sin really works. There is a “passing pleasure” with it (Hebrews 11:25). But then sin “brings forth death” (James 1:15). And “your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

Do not be deceived. There is no safe sin. An Ashley Madison approach to sin says three things, all of which are false!

  1. Sin is safe as long as it is inconsequential. “Life is short. Have an affair.” This echoes another lie that the Bible exposes, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1 Corinthians 15:32). Life is short but it does not follow that we should indulge every appetite. There are consequences – temporally and spiritually. There is a resurrection from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-49). There is a final judgment (2 Corinthians 5:9-11). There is eternal life to be gained and perdition to be avoided (Matthew 25:46). Life is short. Eternity is long. Don’t have an affair! Don’t think your sins do not impact yourself, your family, or your neighbors. Don’t think that you won’t answer for it to God. Sin has consequences. It’s been said that sin takes you farther than you want to go, keeps you longer than you want to stay, and costs you more than you can ever pay.
  2. Sin is safe as long as it is consensual. “We’re all consenting adults here.” Who consented? Fallout from this Ashley Madison affair shows that while millions of people subscribed, clearly millions more were neither consulted nor consented. God’s Word is the moral authority, not personal inclinations. Righteousness is declared by the Word of God. Sin is identified and condemned by the Word of God. God never consents to sin and since life is short, His judgment matters the most (John 12:48).
  3. Sin is safe as long as it is concealed. Ashley Madison’s brand is a beautiful woman shushing the world with her fingertip. The Ashley Madison website promised discretion, absolute secrecy, and identity protection. But hackers showed they could not deliver. Such secrets rarely stay hidden in this life but nothing is hidden from God (Ecclesiastes 12:14; Hebrews 4:13). No sin is safe.

My heart breaks for the millions of homes shattered – to different degrees – over the Ashley Madison affair. The media cycle has moved on but the families are still picking up the pieces.

Yet it would be a tragedy compounded not to learn from this situation.

Know that everything the Bible says about Sin and Temptation is true. You will feel inclined and deceived into involving yourself with it, but in the end it will ruin your life and damn your soul. Neither Ashley Madison nor Satan himself can deliver on all that Sin promises.

Know that if you invested the time and money romancing your spouse rather than cheating on them, you might be pleasantly surprised by how fulfilling marriage can be. This is an application of the Bible truth: you reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7).

Know that there is power to conquer sin. While this post has explored some of the deception and pain involved with sin, God loved us too much to allow Sin and Death to be the final words in our story. The gospel really is good news because by Christ’s cross there is forgiveness and reconciliation with God that can lead to forgiveness, peace, and healing between all of sinful mankind – even wounded spouses.

By Andrew Roberts