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Most Christians know of the account of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness, but how many of us understand the important lessons to be learned from this for us today? More and more we need to be heeding God's instruction and it is my prayer that this little study will help us learn the vital lessons God's is teaching us. So let us take a look at the temptation of Jesus.

Matthew 4:1-2 ...'Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.'

Temptation 1 - APPETITE - Matthew 4:3-4 ...'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, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.'

So Jesus had been fasting for 40 days and nights and now Satan tempts Him with appetite. This is exactly what Satan is using today to draw many away from God through the lust of appetite. So many of us are failing in this area of our lives. Look at the Jews in the wilderness. They weren't happy with the healthful manna that God gave them, to teach them the benefit of a simple wholesome diet. No, they lusted after the fleshpots of Egypt, thus they were ruled by their bellies rather than the Spirit of God. But the prophet Daniel showed us the right way during his test in Babylon:

Daniel 1:5,8,12 ...'And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king ... But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself ... Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink.'

This wasn't just a case of Daniel not wanting to eat of the king's meat and wine due to it being offered to idols, as some believe. No, as any food they were offered could have been offered unto the idols of Babylon. This was more a case of Daniel standing to the health principles of God, eating and drinking only that which gives LIFE and HEALTH to the body and mind. And it was succeeding in this test that helped Daniel and his friends to be prepared for the greater tests (fiery furnace and lions den). Sadly, many of God's people are failing in this first test, lusting after the fleshpots of 'Egypt', which will hinder their preparation for the greater test coming (mark of the beast, no buying and selling, hunger, persecution, etc.). So what was Jesus' response to Satan's temptation?

"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

And what did Job, that faithful man who was tested to his limits say? ... "I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food" (Job 23:12)

How much is the Word of God on your mind compared to food? Jeremiah gives us the picture of what we should focus on 'eating' ... "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts" (Jeremiah 15:16). And Peter also gives us the key to real 'growth' ... "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious" (1 Peter 2:2-3). Let us walk in the steps of these great men of God and of Jesus Christ Himself, not being ruled by our bellies and lusting after the fleshpots of the world, but rather desiring the Word of God MORE than our necessary food. THEN we will see real spiritual growth and be more prepared for the tests that come our way.

Temptation 2 - PRESUMPTION - Matthew 4:5-7 ...'Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 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. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.'

What did Satan do here? In response to Christ meeting Satan in the first temptation with 'IT IS WRITTEN,' Satan counters with an 'it is written' himself in his next temptation. But what does Satan do in quoting God's Word? He lifts it OUT of its context and twists it to mean something it doesn't. So let us look at the CONTEXT of what Satan quoted:

Psalm 91:9-12 ...'Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.'

Notice the words Satan left out? God has promised His angels to watch over all who make God their refuge and habitation to prevent any plague coming upon us and to keep thee in all thy ways. This is a promise to those who are FAITHFUL, not to those who are PRESUMPTIOUS! How many of God's professed people today continue to partake of the world and sin and PRESUME the protection of God in their lives? That is TEMPTING God, just as Jesus would have tempted God if He threw Himself off the temple. That is not FAITH, that is PRESUMPTION. This is such an important lesson for us to learn. We cannot just presume the LORD will take care of us, especially when we are not walking according to the ways and commands of God. As Psalm 91 says above, it is BECAUSE we make God our daily refuge and habitation, walking faithfully in HIS ways that He will take care of us, just as the apostle John confirmed:

1 John 3:22 ...'And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.'

But if we do those things that are NOT pleasing in the sight of God without any true repentance, and believe God will still protect us, then that is presumption, not faith.

Oh how many pastors and church leaders and teachers do just as Satan did in his second temptation - remove verses from their context and twist it to mean something it doesn't. And oh how many people follow right into Satan's trap! So what does this teach us? Satan KNOWS the scriptures and through his 'ministers' he will make it 'appear' as if they are preaching the truth of God's Word, but in fact they are teaching gross, dangerous error. And it is only through a knowledge of the scriptures OURSELVES, just like Jesus in the temptation, that we will be able to see the deception and meet it with truth.

2 Timothy 2:15 ...'Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.'

Temptation 3 - WORLDLY GAIN AND HONOR - Matthew 4:8-10 ...'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; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 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.'

A couple of things to note here. It says that Satan 'sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them.' So with some kind of dazzling power, Satan was able to spread a scene of the 'glory' of all earth's kingdoms before Christ to tempt Him. And what is mankind and much of professed Christendom mainly engrossed in? The 'glory' and 'riches' and 'power' and 'position' and 'possessions' and 'entertainment' of this world. But listen to what Satan said to Jesus .. 'All these things will I give thee.' Why are they Satan's to give? Because when Adam sinned in Eden, he gave this world over to Satan, which is why Satan appeared before God among the 'sons of God' in heaven as the 'representative' of earth in Job 1. Now the important point of this is that the things of this world are of Satan, not God, which is why the apostle John said the following:

1 John 2:15-17 ...'Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.'

So if we are seeking after the things of the world, then we are seeking after the things of Satan, not God. And ultimately, we end up serving Satan, which is what Satan was tempting Jesus with. But did the so called 'glory' of all the kingdoms and power of this world attract Jesus? No. Christ knew that this world and the lust and glory of it is but a fleeting moment, as John confirmed above, but the glory of the kingdom of God is eternal. Christ's only desire was to save mankind and bring glory to His Father and this should be the same for the followers of Christ. When we are distracted by the things of the world, we are allowing Satan to draw us away from God. How many of us have been drawn into the world's system of spending 20 or so years to get a 'good education', so that we can 'get a good job', that takes up the next 40+ years of our lives, so we can have 'enough money' to 'get a nice house' and a 'nice car' and go on 'holidays', etc, etc? And yet what counsel did Jesus give on this?

Matthew 6:31-33 ...'Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.'

Did you see what Jesus promised? If we seek God's kingdom and His righteousness FIRST in our lives, then the things we need for life will be ADDED unto us! This is a promise of God! Do we have FAITH to believe it? Jesus' reply to Satan should be heeded by us all ... 'Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.' And this matches the 'greatest' and 'first' commandment, which COMMANDS us to "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength" (Mark 12:29-30). How much is left of self if we are keeping this commandment? NONE!

Satan has perfected these three temptations and today most of the world, including much of professed Christendom, has been taken by these temptations. Love of appetite, presumption and a love of the world has engulfed the professed Christian churches to a point where God pronounces them as full of "devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird" (Revelation 18:2). All because they have "not a love of the truth" (2 Thess.2:10) and end up "believing a lie" (2 Thess.2:11) and are taken in by Satan!

Friends, I pray we will all learn the important lessons that the temptations of Jesus teach us. It is time to rise from our slumber, as "the night is far spent, the day is at hand," so let us therefore "cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light" (Romans 13:12). Jesus met the temptations of Satan with the TRUE Word of God. What does God require of me? What is God's will? Only by prayerful, humble study of the scriptures will we be able to determine this. So I pray that we, like Job, will be able to say "I regard the Word of God more than my necessary food." And let us LIVE BY that Word, just as our Lord and Saviour did, "leaving us an example, that we should follow in His steps" (1 Peter 2:21).