Overcoming the Tempter
The setting of this familiar story at the beginning of Matthew four, in which Jesus is tempted by Satan in the wilderness, takes place directly after Jesus is baptized. It’s truly amazing how that every time we take great steps of faith and obey the Lord, Satan fights! There are many truths to be found for the Christian in this passage.
First, a wilderness is often called a desert because it is generally a deserted place. A deserted place emphasizes that Christ was all alone while He was in the wilderness. The first verse of this passage tells us that Jesus was “led up of the Spirit into the wilderness.” This clearly shows that being led by the Holy Spirit does not mean that you will never face a wilderness experience. This was not a desirable place for Christ, but it was, in fact, the place that He was ordained to be. This place represents a “season” in the life of Christ. Jesus was not only led to an undesirable place, but He was also led to a difficult situation. Satan was in the wilderness ready to tempt Him!
We also see that not only was Jesus tempted, but He was tempted at His weakest point. He was extremely hungry after a 40-day fast. I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry after a 40-minute fast! Satan had the audacity to tempt Christ face-to-face. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that Satan went toe-to-toe with the very Son of God as he tempted Him.
Everyone has areas of weakness. However, we must be willing to set aside the sin that so easily besets us. We must use wisdom and caution to make sure we do not put ourselves in compromising situations. Satan did not stop after his first temptation, and this reminds me—as do these verses below—that the devil will tempt us at every point.
Hebrews 4:15 “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” It is vitally important that we cultivate a humble spirit and never reach the place in our hearts where we think we have arrived.
1 Corinthians 10:12 “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” Satan will throw everything he can at us! We must resist the urge to yield to his vices.
Proverbs 1:10 “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.” The word entice means “to allure.” Just as a good fisherman seeks to place the right fishing lure in front of a hungry fish, so Satan also seeks to entice us with his bait. I would rather shun Satan’s bait than struggle on his hook!
Everyone faces the wilderness. Everyone faces temptation. But there’s good news! 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
So the real question is, “How will you respond?” Jesus, our great Example and our Standard, overcame the temptations that Satan brought His way. How did Christ withstand Satan?
1. He was led by the Spirit of God.
(Verse 1: “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit.”)
My friend, if Jesus needed to be filled with the Holy Spirit, how much more do we? As Galatians 5:16 says, “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”
2. He was fed by the Word of God.
(Verse 4 “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”)
Every time Satan tempted Christ, Christ used the Word of God to overcome his deceit and lies. Jesus responded with, “It is written.” I love the way that Job also placed a high priority on the Word of God and gave it preeminence in his life through his great trials and testings. Job 23:12 says, “Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.”
When we are filled with the Spirit, the Holy Spirit will drive us to the Word of God and grant to us the victory! John 16:13 says, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”
If we are going to overcome Satan’s traps and temptations, we must not only be filled with the Spirit and feeding on the Word of God, but notice what Jesus did lastly:
3. He fasted and prayed.
(Verse 2 “And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights.”)
Nothing of any eternal value that stands the test of time is accomplished without God’s people seeking the Lord through fervent prayer and fasting. Mark 9:29 says, “And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.”
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John Evertson, GSBC Campus Pastor
In June 2000, after graduating from Golden State Baptist College, John Evertson answered the call to pastor West Valley Baptist Church in Woodland, California. After 19 years, God moved Pastor and Mrs. Evertson to Santa Clara. Pastor Evertson is instrumental in the church and serves as the Campus Pastor for Golden State Baptist College to help guide the future servants of God. Pastor & Mrs. Evertson have four children — Josiah, Jeremiah, Joy, and Joshua.
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