“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil . . . And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written…” (Matt. 4:1, 3-4a)
Some things about this scene I don’t even know how to process — they generate more questions than answers!
For example, Why in the world did Satan even attempt to make the Lord Jesus sin? Did he have the tiniest hope that he could succeed? Did the Serpent really think he could trick his Maker into doing evil? It seems preposterous to answer these with a “Yes”.
And yet he did try.
Could it be that we fall very short of understanding the full degree to which the Lord became man? Was He so boldly human that the tempter saw what he thought was a weak spot in the incarnation? Again, the mind gets dizzy trying to wrap itself around these ideas.
But there are a few things we can nail down with good confidence. One is that the Holy Spirit led Christ into the desert for the temptation and recorded what happened in selective detail. Another is that He was tempted at a level far beyond that of mortal man—these were no ordinary temptations! And then, of course, that He very simply and completely neutralized Satan’s attacks.
Now we might say, “Sure, but He was God! It must have been easier for Him.”
That totally misses the point.
The key here is HOW Jesus won. The Spirit did not lead Him into the place of temptation to see what would happen. He took Him there and recorded the critical facts, so we could witness the event and learn from it.
Christ’s strategy was the one accurate defense against temptation, always relevant for you and me. He cleared the road to victory and paved it for us.
According to the text, the Lord answered Satan in a flash, with the written Word.
There simply was no debate, no argument, no consideration, no deliberation. Nothing separated the temptation from the swift swish of the sword.
And the more you think about it, the more logical the reason.
If when we are tempted, to anger, to lust, to envy, to complain, or whatever, we pause to think things over . . . at that moment we are already finished. It’s as simple as that. It takes no more than the first second of hesitation to begin the nosedive into sin.
But if we have decided beforehand that we are vulnerable, weak, and unable to stand up to the Devil, and arm ourselves with swords of truth that we will instantly use to swipe the head off the temptation…
The Word will rapidly transform our thinking, even as we quote it. It will miraculously cleanse our mind and change our desires. By the time we finish the passage our whole perspective will be different.
One of the main challenges is exercising that mustard seed of faith to draw and swing. It’s not that hard to do if the decision has already been made before the assault. It is supposed to become a spiritual reflex as real as the reaction to duck when somebody throws an object at your head.
So why do we not live in this victory?
Most of the time it’s just a matter of pride. We keep thinking we can manage ourselves…
And the years go by.
Dear Father, the Lord Jesus has left me without a whimper of an excuse. Help me obey. Amen.