Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE LORD JESUS CHRIST TEMPTED BY SATAN”

Matthew 4.1-11; Mark 1.12-13; Luke 4.1-13

 

Have you ever experienced a serious problem and someone who knew about your problem tried to come to your aid who had no idea what you were really going through? I noticed online a couple of days ago that articles were posted by people who admitted that they had great ideas about raising children and how parenting ought to be done . . . before they had kids. Then there are those who have great advice for married women . . . who have never been married. But the best I have ever heard of is the divorced woman at the Laundromat who gives marital advice to young wives based upon her great success . . . after having been married four times. She is really an expert on the subject of men. Then there are the drug rehab counselors who seem to be most qualified because they were once overwhelmed by drug addiction, or the AA counselors who are experts about alcoholism because they identify as alcoholics. Really? Do we turn to drunks for advice about drinking and drug addicts for advice about drug addiction? My friends, that is insane. That is tantamount to seeking legal advice from career criminals or medical advice from those overcome by a fatal illness. Let’s make sure that we understand with clarity how to really address a problem. First, you want to make sure you are seeking the help of someone who is familiar with the problem. After all, ignorance is not an asset. Second, you want to make sure you are seeking the help of someone who is not himself a victim of the malady you want deliverance from.

This goes for illnesses, for addictions, for legal problems, and so forth. Having tuberculosis does not make one an expert on the treatment of tuberculosis. Being a Heroin addict does not make one an expert on the treatment of Heroin addiction. As well, the career criminal is not someone you should turn to for help in avoiding or in getting out of a life of crime. Sickness, addictions, and criminality aside, let us turn to the foundational issue upon which all other problems an individual must cope with and account for are derived from. I speak, of course, of sin. Adam sinned, the curse followed, and the human family has been dealing with the consequences of sin ever since. Every problem that you have ever been troubled with is somehow connected to or derived from sin. Do you really think the teenage slut should seek advice from a prostitute? Do you imagine the kid with the violent temper and the sadistic appetite for mutilating the family pets will in any way be helped by talking to a serial killer? We know such extremes are nonsensical. However, folks still seem to imagine that somehow familiarity with sin and vulnerability to a temptation to then commit sin qualifies someone as an expert who is qualified to help others.

I disagree. I strongly disagree. What you need as your remedy for sin is someone who is familiar with sin in that He has been tempted to commit sin, but Who has also been so successful with regard to sin that He has never, ever, not even once Himself committed sin. Do you know such a person as that? I do. He is the Lord Jesus Christ, and He is the eternal Son of the living God who not only conquered sin, but He also conquered death, having died and having then risen from the dead. However, that is another issue altogether. At this time, our focus will be on sin and the only man in history to never commit even a single sin. Please find Matthew chapter four in your Bible. When you find that portion of God’s Word, I invite you to stand and read along silently with me:

 

1      Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

2      And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.

3      And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

4      But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

5      Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,

6      And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

7      Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

8      Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

9      And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

10    Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

11    Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

 

Remain standing while you turn to Mark chapter one:

 

12    And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.

13    And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.

 

Finally, turn to Luke chapter four:

 

1      And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,

2      Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.

3      And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.

4      And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

5      And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.

6      And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.

7      If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.

8      And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

9      And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence:

10    For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee:

11    And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

12    And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

13    And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.

 

Our Lord Jesus Christ’s experiences in the wilderness, when He was sorely tempted by the Devil himself, can be considered under three headings. After looking at them we will discuss some theology:

 

First, THE HOLY SPIRIT’S GUIDANCE

 

It is an amazing thing to consider the relationship between the Lord Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Triune Godhead, and the Holy Spirit of God, the Third Person of the Triune Godhead. We know that They are coequal with each other and with God the Father, but Their submission to each other is a glory to study in God’s Word. After our Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection and ascension into heaven, the Holy Spirit is shown to be submissive to the Lord Jesus Christ as the promised Comforter.[1] But following His baptism by John the Baptist, our text shows us that it is the Lord Jesus Christ Who is led by the Spirit.

How powerfully it is stated in Mark’s account. There, portraying the Lord Jesus Christ as the Perfect Servant, Mark writes these words for his mainly Roman audience of readers, in Mark 1.12:

 

“And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.”

 

This shows how completely subject to the Spirit of God the Savior really was.

In the wilderness, the Lord Jesus Christ fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. At first glance, it might seem as though there is some similarity between the 40-day fast of our Lord and the 40-day fasts of Moses and Elijah during Old Testament times.[2] But ask yourself what difference is obvious between their fasts and our Lord’s fast? The Lord Jesus was tempted by Satan during His fast. Imagine that, incredible as it may seem, Satan actually worked to entice the Holy One of Israel to commit sins. Scripture would indicate that He was tempted by Satan during the entire time of His fasting, but only the three greatest and most severe tests were recorded in the gospels. No such tempting by Satan is ever recorded of either Moses or Elijah.

 

Next, AFTER THE HOLY SPIRIT’S GUIDANCE THERE WAS SATAN’S GUILE

 

The first of the three supreme temptations brought upon the Lord Jesus Christ by Satan was related to God’s goodness, Luke 4.2-3.

 

2      Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.

3      And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.

 

Think of how weak and vulnerable you would be to being tempted with food after a forty-day deprivation of nourishment. Satan used this time of Christ’s physical weakness to try and cast doubt upon the Son of God’s relationship with His heavenly Father. But he does not do so in the way most people think. The phrase “If thou be the Son of God” is not really questioning, but challenging. Satan effectively said, “Since you are the Son of God, command this stone. . . .”[3] He tried to persuade the Lord Jesus to selfishly use His power instead of trusting His Father. We all know what the Bible says about God being the Provider for His Own. How much more, then, would He provide for His Son if His Son needed provision from Him? After tempting the Lord Jesus Christ during his 40 days and 40 nights without food in the wilderness, Satan attacked Him with this particular enticement. Remember that the Lord Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to face Satan in spiritual conflict. Reflect upon what you and I typically do after a few moments of unmet so-called “needs.” Immediately, because we live in this flesh of doubt and mistrust, we begin to think, “How could God let this happen?” It was precisely that kind of thinking that would result in our Lord doing what Satan wanted Him to do, to take matters into His Own hands and provide for Himself, rather than trusting His Father to demonstrate, in His Own good time and of His Own choice, His goodness toward His Son as He saw it. Therefore, do not ever doubt that Satan knows exactly Who the Son of God is. He knows. What he was trying to do was lure the Son of God into behaving out of character, to act differently than what He was. However, Jesus Christ, being the impeccable Son of God, could not behave differently than His character. The Lord’s response is found in Luke 4.4:

 

“And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.”

 

That is to say, a material need is not all there is to life. As Satan tried to minimize our Lord’s relationship to God and to maximize the importance of His body’s material need, the Lord Jesus Christ responded to the spiritual attack with the sword of the Spirit (which is the Word of God), and showed that spiritual needs, specifically one’s relationship to God, are more important than material needs . . . not less. So, in this supreme test and temptation to doubt His Father’s goodness, the Lord Jesus Christ passed with flying colors, and in so doing vindicated His Father.

The second of the three supreme tests brought upon our Lord by Satan was related to God’s honor, Luke 4.5-7:

 

5      And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.

6      And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.

7      If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.

 

How subtle Satan is. He knows that part of Christ’s ultimate aim in coming to redeem mankind is to recapture that which Adam forfeited, which is lordship over God’s creation. When Adam was created he was given lordship to exercise over a portion of God’s creation, with God as ultimate Lord over all. However, when Adam transgressed he, by sin, surrendered dominion of this portion of creation over to Satan. For this reason, the Apostle Paul recognized that Satan is now “the god of this world,” though his authority is usurped and illegitimate.[4] Knowing, then, that Christ had come to establish His rule, what better way of thwarting God’s plan, and what better way of robbing God of the honor and worship that is due Him, than by tempting His Son to take the shortcut to kingship by skipping the way of the cross? Satan tried to entice Christ to opt for becoming king the easy way. Had he succeeded in doing that he would have accomplished two objectives: #1, to succeed in tempting Christ to sin by worshipping another than God, and, #2, by robbing God of His rightful honor. Thankfully, the Lord Jesus again responded with the sword of the Spirit and said,

 

“Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”

 

The Bible has the answer to defeating every attack of the devil.

We now come to the final of the supreme tests recorded by the gospel writers. In this temptation the power of God is questioned, Luke 4.9-13:

 

9      And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence:

10    For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee:

11    And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

12    And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

13    And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.

 

Please turn now to Psalm 91.11-12, and see if you can detect what Satan does not quote from that passage as I read aloud:

 

11    For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

12    They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

 

When Satan quoted the Word of God to our Lord Jesus Christ, he left out the last half of that very important phrase in Psalm 91.11, omitting the words

 

“to keep thee in all thy ways.”

 

Satan had a multifaceted attack set up by which he tried to defeat our Lord. First, had the Lord jumped, He would have done so motivated by doubt and not trust. He would have done so to see if God was going to keep His Word. This would have been sin on Christ’s part, since

 

“whatsoever is not of faith is sin,”

 

Romans 14.23. Then, had the Lord jumped, He would have fallen to His death, for God would not have rescued Him. That very important phrase in Psalm 91.11 shows this:

 

“For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” [Emphasis added]

 

In all thy ways

 

refers to the ways that God would have Him to go. And it was not God’s plan for the Lord Jesus Christ to arbitrarily call upon supernatural power on a whim. The Lord Jesus Christ, of course, again responded correctly, trusting His Father, by saying,

 

“Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”

 

To review, there was first the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Then, as we have just seen, there was Satan’s guile.

 

Now, WE SEE THAT THERE IS RECORDED A SEASON OF RELIEF.

 

Following this time of severe temptation Satan left our Lord and holy angels ministered to Him, Matthew 4.11:

 

“Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.”

 

Is it not interesting to note that after Satan unsuccessfully tried to tempt Christ into sinfully questioning God’s goodness, God then demonstrated His goodness by sending angels to minister to His Son?

Is it not also interesting that, after refusing to dishonor God, the Lord Jesus was blessed by the sending of those angels who then served Him? He received honor from God after He refused the temptation to honor Himself, and thereby dishonor God.

As He refused to put God’s omnipotent power to a test, that same omnipotent power was then brought to bear to supernaturally tend to Him in the wilderness. Isn’t God wonderful?

Look back on this wilderness experience of the Lord Jesus Christ newly entered into His earthly ministry and you see that well could He teach from His Own personal experience,

 

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”[5]

 

SERMON:

 

May I ask you a few questions about Christ’s temptations in the wilderness? First, why was Christ tempted? The answer to that question is discovered by first gathering together those things found throughout the Bible which provide the necessary background of information. What do we know? We know that Satan cannot tempt anyone without God’s express permission. We learn about the limitations God imposes upon Satan from the experiences of Job in Job 1.12 and 2.6:

 

Job 1.12:  “And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.”

 

Job 2.6: “And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.”

 

We also know, from John 1.14 and Colossians 2.9, that the Lord Jesus Christ is the unique Being of two natures. He is at one and the same time both fully God and fully man:

 

John 1.14: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

 

Colossians 2.9: “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”

 

Finally, in this regard, we know that God cannot be tempted, according to James 1.13:

 

“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.”

 

Lest you imagine a contradiction in the Bible at this point, I need to explain that the same Greek word is used in the New Testament to convey the two ideas of “test” and “tempt,” with the difference in meaning being determined by the context in which the word is used. The word is pierazoo.[6] In a situation designed to test your ability to stand, it is a test. When it is a situation designed to make you fall, it is a temptation. So, as in the case of Job, the same event was a test of Job from God’s perspective and a temptation of Job from Satan’s perspective. When the gospel writers recorded the temptations of Christ by Satan, they were recording the supreme test of the God-Man, which test God subjected Him to, not to discover, but rather to prove Who and What He really was. Though tempted by Satan again and again, this test in the wilderness declared to the universe, in both the natural and supernatural realms, that which heretofore had been known only to God; that victory over Satan and victory over sin was His!

Second question, could Jesus Christ have sinned? First, let me ask, could a sinless man commit sin? The answer to that question is yes. We remember, from Genesis chapter 3, that Adam was created sinless, yet in his innocence he sinned against God. However, that does not answer the question of whether Christ could have sinned. This is because Jesus Christ is not man only. He is also holy God. Thus, we need to ask ourselves the question can God sin? Can He Who is holy, as an absolute attribute of His nature, do that which is unholy, do that which is diametrically opposed to His nature? No. To assert that Jesus Christ could have sinned is to deny His deity, or to deny the truth of God’s revealed nature. Conclusion? The Lord Jesus Christ could not have sinned. He is impeccable, meaning that beyond the fact that He did not sin, it should be recognized that His divine nature made sinning impossible.[7]

We have already read a great deal of scripture and considered a great many truths. Therefore, the goal of my sermon this morning is to crystallize truths in your mind, not discover any new truths to you. Three things can easily be seen from the passages we have read in God’s Word thus far:

 

First, THERE IS A SPIRITUAL REALM THAT MOST MEN DO NOT CONSIDER

 

This realm is the habitation of spiritual beings. The spiritual beings that inhabit the spiritual realm are of two varieties, the Creator and the created. The Creator, of course, is God. The one true and living God is referred to in the passages we have read in three ways. The First Person of the Trinity is referred to as God, and as the Lord thy God. The Second Person of the Trinity is referred to as the Lord Jesus Christ and as the Son of God. The Third Person of the Trinity is referred to as the Spirit and as the Holy Ghost. These three divine Persons comprise the one true and living God, Creator of all that exists, and Sustainer of all that is.[8] The creatures referred to are of two types, the devil, who the Lord Jesus addressed as Satan, and angels, who were dispatched to minister to the Lord Jesus Christ at the conclusion of His fast and temptations. Thus, there is only one infinite Creator, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and then there are finite creatures brought into existence by God, with the devil being a creature clearly opposed to God (after all, he tried to entice the Lord Jesus to commit sins), and angels serving God and ministering to Jesus Christ.

The reason people typically do not consider the spiritual realm is because though we are partly comprised of a spiritual nature (our eternal and undying souls), we are flesh-bound creatures with five senses. Therefore, unless we see, smell, taste, touch, or hear something, we characteristically discount its importance, and sometimes even its existence. This is a catastrophic error in judgment.

 

Next, WHEN JESUS CHRIST LEFT THE SPIRITUAL REALM TO ENTER THE PHYSICAL REALM HE WAS NOT IN ANY WAY DIMINISHED

 

The whole reason for Christ’s testing in the wilderness and subjecting Himself to Satan’s foul attempts to seduce Him to sin was to prove a point. When Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of the living God, left heaven’s glory and took upon Himself a fully human nature (yet without sin), did He lose anything in the transition? To be sure, the Apostle Paul deals with the ramifications of Christ taking on humanity in Philippians chapter two and in Colossians chapters one and two. In those passages, Paul powerfully asserts that the Lord Jesus Christ is undiminished deity in the flesh. But here, when He was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, the Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated what the Apostle Paul wrote about.

When Jesus Christ became a man by taking upon Himself human flesh via the incarnation, He surrendered none of His attributes. This is proven by His sinless conduct in the face of the most intense scrutiny, when after being physically weakened by fasting for forty days, He was unaffected by Satan’s vile enticements. Again, what did Christ’s success against Satan’s temptations show? It showed that not only did Jesus Christ not sin, but it showed that Jesus Christ could not have sinned. He is impeccable, with His holy nature unaffected and undiminished by the experiences of the virgin birth and humanity.

 

Finally, EVENTS THAT TAKE PLACE IN THE PHYSICAL REALM AFFECT THE SPIRITUAL REALM

 

This is really too obvious a matter to require proof, but it is a truth that needs to be pointed out from time to time. If events in the physical realm had no effect on the spiritual realm, then Jesus Christ would not have clothed Himself in human flesh in this world and suffered the death of the cross. Jesus Christ was born, was tempted, lived a sinless life, and then died on the cross because events that take place in this world affect the next world of eternity.

Consider the implications of this truth. If events in this life affect the next life, then it stands to reason that this life (being temporary) should be used to prepare for the next life (which is eternal and unending). That does make sense, does it not? Of course, it does. As well, it equally stands to reason that no one who leaves this life unprepared for the next life will enjoy the next life. Spend your time in the here and now living for the here and now and you will not be prepared for the by and by.

I close with a final comment regarding events taking place in the physical realm affecting the spiritual realm. When Jesus Christ subjected Himself to Satan’s temptations, for the purpose of proving His might and power against the most powerful and the most sinful of created beings, He was giving everyone fair warning. He would win this conflict of the ages that would climax with His death, burial, and astounding resurrection three days later. Therefore, listen up! Pay attention! Observe closely! And decide which side of this conflict you want to end up on.

 

There is no doubt about the Lord Jesus Christ. The right Man, delivered by the right woman, in the right city, at the right time, of the right family, from the right tribe, of the right people, stepped from eternity into this world to change everything forever! When He was tempted by Satan it was a testing by God. He passed the test. His might, His power, His holiness, and His sinlessness was proven. He showed that He would win the day. Something more than three years later He did win the day.

Be careful, you who doubt. You are mistaken, you who hold back from Him. You will regret your reluctance throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. However, those who flee to Him for safety from sin and refuge from punishment will never be sorry. Therefore, when looking for someone to address your sin problem, look no further than the only man who

 

“was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”[9]

 

Jesus Christ! Come to Him for salvation full and free.

__________

[1] John 16.7

[2] Exodus 24.18; 34.28; 1 Kings 19.8

[3] A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures In The New Testament, Vol II, (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1930), page 50.

[4] 2 Corinthians 4.4

[5] Matthew 6.33

[6] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), pages 792-793.

[7] Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzki & Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms, (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1999), page 65.

[8] Deuteronomy 6.4; 1 Corinthians 8.4; 1 Timothy 2.5

[9] Hebrews 4.15

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org