Sun, Jul 08, 2001

TEMPTATIONS! MATTHEW 4:1-11

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
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TEMPTATIONS!
MATTHEW 4:1-11
 


Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew chapter 4 as we look at the temptations Jesus faced and how He withstood them so that we may learn those lessons and apply them to our own lives. And as you are turning there, listen to this true story of how succumbing to temptation has destructive effects upon our lives:
Back in 1958 a small community in northeastern Pennsylvania built a little red brick building that was to be their police department, their fire department, and their city hall. They were proud of that building; it was the result of sacrificial giving and careful planning. When the building was completed, they had a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and more than six thousand people were there - nearly all the town's residents. It was the biggest event of the year!
Within less than two months, however, they began to notice some ominous cracks on the side of this red brick building. Sometime later, it was noticed that the windows would not shut all the way. Then it was discovered that the doors wouldn't close correctly. Eventually, the floor shifted and left ugly gaps in the floor covering and corners. The roof began to leak. Within a few more months, it had to be evacuated, to the embarrassment of the builder and the disgust of the taxpayers.

A firm did an analysis shortly thereafter and found that the blasts from a near-by mining area were slowly but effectively destroying the building. Imperceptibly, down beneath the foundation, there were small shifts and changes taking place that caused the whole foundation to crack. You couldn't feel it or even see it from the surface, but quietly and down deep there was a weakening. A city official finally had to write across the door of the building, "Condemned. Not fit for public use." Ultimately, the building had to be demolished.
There is a moral there. Erosion goes unnoticed when you play with temptation until your character is permanently damaged. 
- Charles R. Swindoll, Hand Me Another Brick

A powerful illustration of what can happen in our own lives if we allow temptations to control us and cause us to do things that God does not want us to do. And as I have said, the Lord is going to give us a powerful example of how to deal with temptation when it comes across our path. With that said, let's read through the verses we will be studying this morning and then we will go back and expound on them, seeing what the Lord has for us this morning.

MATTHEW 4:1-11


After Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River here comes the battles. The Holy Spirit leads Jesus into the barren wilderness where He fasts for forty days to be tempted by the Devil! Now the Greek word that is used for "tempted" speaks of testing or proving or to solicit evil, both definitions apply. In saying that, please understand that the Holy Spirit was testing or proving Christ's faith, while it was the Devil that sought to cause Jesus to do evil!
Now that is an interesting thought, "Could Jesus sin?" In Hebrews we are told, "Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted...For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 2:17-18, 4:15.
Now in saying that, there are those who will fight and say Jesus could sin, but He didn't! On the other hand, there are those who say that He could not sin even if He wanted to! Who is right? Let me put it this way because it is the only way I can truly understand it. I truly believe Jesus could sin because of His humanity, but, because of his Deity, there is not a chance that He would sin! I think that should make both camps happy and I think it is the correct view!

After 40 days of fasting, reaching the point of starvation now, Jesus was hungry, and in His weakness the Devil comes to tempt Him. And please understand that the enemy will get at us any way he can, in our weakness or when we think that WE have conquered a certain issue. And the reason he does is to bring us down! And so we now see the first temptation Satan is going to bring before Jesus.

1. THE FIRST TEMPTATION - MATTHEW 4:3-4 - QUESTIONING THE FATHER'S PROVISIONS

Now don't get the idea that Satan is questioning the Deity of Jesus, for He is not. He is saying "Since you are the Son of God..." and Satan, knowing that Jesus is hungry, is tempting Him to make bread out of these stones! The idea here is that the enemy is questioning the Father's provisions towards the Son.
Keep in mind that Jesus had been denying the flesh for 40 days, now He is hungry, and Satan is tempting His flesh. And Jesus could have done this in His own power, His own strength. It was not beyond His ability. It was not difficult at all for Him to make bread to satisfy His flesh, but He didn't!
In our own lives Satan does the same. "Why are all these things happening to you if you are a child of God?" "Why are your bills pilling up if God loves you?" You see, as Satan begins to cause doubt in our minds regarding the Father's provisions for us, we begin to try and figure out how we can do it on our own, to have it right now and our way, a kind of Burger King spirituality! We don't want to wait upon the Lord, we don't believe that God will provide our daily bread, so we have it our way instead of YAHWEH!

What can we do about this? How can we defeat the enemy's attacks and temptations upon our life? Just as Jesus did, by the Word of God. Jesus quotes out of Deuteronomy 8:3 and defeats this attack by saying that spiritual food is more important that physical food. We tend to focus more on the physical realm than the spiritual, and we do have it wrong. I don't think any of us are lacking of food, but what about our spiritual diet, how is that doing? Are you taking in what you need to keep you healthy? Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." PRIORITIES!
You see, we need to focus on the Lord, wait upon Him, trust in Him. And please understand that the power is not in quoting the Scriptures, but believing and applying them to your life. Making them real to you. Round one goes to Jesus as He defeats Satan by applying the Word of God to His life, and so must we!

2. THE SECOND TEMPTATION - MATTHEW 4:5-7 - QUESTIONING THE FATHER'S PROTECTION

Now Satan starts out quoting Scripture but he twists it and misquotes it to make his point, to confuse. Here Satan quotes Psalm 91:11-12, and challenges Jesus to jump off the pinnacle of the temple, some 400 feet to the valley below, and God said He would protect you, you won't die. He is challenging the protection of the Father towards the Son. And understand that Jesus just defeated Satan by the Word of God, so here Satan is saying to Jesus that if He truly believes in the Word of God, then jump! Prove that you trust in God and His Word!

How about you, do you believe God will protect you? Or do you allow the enemy to cause you to disbelieve in the Father's protection? Listen to what the Psalmist said in Psalm 121, "I will lift up my eyes to the hills-- from whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; he shall preserve your soul. The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore." Psalm 121:1-8.
Again, it is not just knowing what the Word of God says, but believing it, applying it to your life, trusting in what the Lord has said, that He will keep us! And again Jesus defeats this attack from Satan by using the Word of God. And Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:16 by saying that God should not be tempted by us.
Why did He say that? First of all Satan left out a very important part of the Psalm that he quoted. Psalm 91:11 actually says "For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways." Understand that it is speaking of obedience, service unto the Lord, according to the will of the Lord, and not according to our own will. 

There are those who take Scripture out of context, twist it, and in doing so they are tempting God by their actions. Down in the south, in the Ozarks, there are those Christians who practice snake handling, poisonous snakes that is! And the reason they do is because of what Mark 16:18 says, "they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." The context here is missions work, as they would go out into the world, that God's hand of protection will be upon them, just as Paul when that viper attached to him, and God healed him from this deadly bite. This has nothing to do with acting like a fool, misquoting or taking out of context the Word of God. Don't be foolish!
I don't know where you are at this morning, but maybe you are doubting the protection of God because of your health, your finances, your job or whatever. The enemy has confused your mind and maybe you are even tempting God in your actions. Don't! Listen to what David said in Psalm 61:1-4, "HEAR my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings." Don't jump but run into the arms of God, for He is our strong tower of protection! You don't have to prove anything with the Father, just be obedient to Him, serve Him according to His will, and you won't be tempted to jump!
Round two goes to Jesus as He once again defeats Satan by applying the Word of God to His life and trusting in it, and so must we!

3. THE THIRD TEMPTATION - MATTHEW 4:8-10 - QUESTIONING THE FATHER'S PROMISE

This is interesting for here we see Satan offer Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, with one stipulation. All Jesus must do is bow the knee before him and worship Satan and He can have it all here and now. In Luke 4:5-7 we see this again, "Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, `All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours." Satan says that this world is his and he can give it to whomever he wants!
Now, the question is, when did Satan gain this world or did he? He did when God gave this world to man and in his sin man gave it over to Satan, and thus, we are told of Satan in II Corinthians 4:4, that he is "...the god of this age..." In John 12:31 he is called, "... the ruler of this world..." And in Ephesians 2:2 he is called, "...the prince of the power of the air..."So the world was his and to give it to Jesus was possible, if he wanted to, and he did, with only one request, that Jesus would worship him!

What Satan is doing here is questioning the promise of God. You see, God had promised His Son all things. In Psalm 2 we read of the Father speaking to the Son, "Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD has said to Me, `You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; you shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel.'" Psalm 2:6-9. And yet, what Satan is doing here is trying to get Jesus to take a short-cut, to have it all here and now! He did not have to go to the cross, He did not have to do the will of the Father, and He could still have it all!
How about you this morning? Are you doubting God's promises to you? Are you looking to bow the knee to Satan to get it all now? And by not bowing the knee to Jesus, you are bowing before Satan, for you are either for or against the Lord, there is no middle ground. Don't be fooled by his schemes! You see, we too must go to the cross, there are no shortcuts! 
Maybe God has spoken to your heart about bringing a Christian man or woman into your life, the one you are to marry. But it has been a while and you don't want to wait any longer, so you go out and find a hunk or a cute little thing, who just happens to be unsaved. But you have convinced yourself that in your dating you will win him or her over to Christ. Understand if you are dating a unsaved person, you are doubting the promises of God and you are going against the Word of God! Don't do it!

Or, maybe it's at work and your know God has promised you a certain position for you and it seems like everyone is moving up but you. So you begin to help God out, doubting His promise to you, and you begin to have work ethics that are not godly, but your boss is now noticing you, the work you are doing, and the promotion is coming! Don't do it!
If you are doubting the promises of God this morning, let me give you some encouragement by sharing with you what God has done in my life. Shortly after I got saved God spoke to my heart and said that He would one day bring me up to Wisconsin to be a pastor of a church. No timetable for this was given to me, just the promise that one day He would move me to a state where I don't know a soul, and make me a pastor of a church. And year after year went by, some 10 years in fact, before God's promise came to pass and here I am, in Wisconsin, overseeing this church. I didn't have to kick down any doors, try to do it my way, have a temper tantrum with God, but I trusted in the promises of God and I am so glad that I did! It is as Isaiah 40:31 says, "But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." May we do that, wait upon the Lord, trust in His promises.

In I Kings 8:56 we are told, "Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses." Isn't God good! And in II Peter 1:1-4 we are told, "Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."
Don't fall for the schemes of the Devil, his dealings, but do as Jesus did, trust and apply God's Word into your life as He once again quotes out of the Scriptures to defeat Satan, quoting from Deuteronomy 6:13, and Deuteronomy 10:20.
Round three goes to Jesus as He defeats Satan by applying the Word of God to His life, trusting in the promises of God, and so must we!

Now in Matthew 4:11 we are told, "Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him." Father God gave Him times of refreshing after this intense battle with the enemy, but don't think the enemy is finished. He is not going to give up that easily! In Luke 4:13 we are told "Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time." He may have lost that fight, but he would be back, he is not going to give up, for as He tried to bring Jesus down, he does the same with us. That means we must be on guard, we must be prepared, for Peter tells us, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world." I Peter 5:8-9.
Also, listen to what Paul tells us in I Corinthians 10:11-14, "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry." In other words, don't fight or stand in your own strength, but in the strength of the Lord, the power of His might.

And notice that as difficult as things may seem, God is not going to allow you to be tempted beyond what you can handle, that you will be destroyed by it. You see, He gives to us what we need so that we may trust in Him and not in our own strength. The way out of this is through Christ, that is the escape! That is how we stand and not fall! May we keep that in mind, keeping Jesus before us at all times, allowing Him to shepherd us!
According to legend, there was an island dominated by an Iron Mountain that emitted such powerful magnetic force that it attracted every piece of metal brought within the range of its influence. Ships at sea, passing near the shore of that land, felt its force on their anchors and chains. If the ship drew closer, the attraction became stronger until finally the very nails flew from the vessel's beams and planks, and fastened themselves to the side of the mountain. The ship, of course, would then fall to pieces with great loss of life.
Don't be drawn into temptations! Yes, you will face them, just don't let them take hold of your life. You will be tempted to deny the Father's provision, you will be tempted to doubt the Father's protection, and you will be tempted to doubt the Father's promise. The only way to overcome these things is to believe God's Word and apply God's Word to your life. You see, the power is not found in quoting Scripture, but submission to it! And you know what will happen when you do, Satan will flee! You see, he won't flee when you say, "I will quote it!" but when you say "I will do it!" 

The Lord told Joshua in a time of difficulty in his life, as he now was going to oversee the children of Israel and bring them into the promise land. And I believe what the Lord shared with Joshua is also for us. We read in Joshua 1:8-9, "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." May we not forget that!

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