We are all tempted.
Jesus, as a man, was tempted in all the ways we are tempted. Hebrew 4:15 tells us:
This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.[i]
As the God/Man, Jesus is able to be our faithful High Priest. As the God/Man, Jesus is the mediator between God and man. (1 Timothy 2:5) Hebrews 2:17-18 tells us this about Jesus:
17Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. 18Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.
Jesus went through suffering and temptation so that He could identify with us who suffer and are tempted. In addition, Jesus went through suffering and temptation so that He can help us when we suffer and are tempted.
Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father to make intercession for us. Romans 8:34 tells us:
Who then will condemn us? No one--for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God's right hand, pleading for us.
No one else can fulfill the role of High Priest and mediator between God and humanity. No one else was or is both God and man united in one person. This is why 1 Timothy 2:5 says:
For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity--the man Christ Jesus.
When Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River, He identified with us, and He received the testimony that He is God’s Son, who brings God great joy. Matthew 4:1 tells us that then the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness. Matthew 4:1 says:
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.
The Gospel of Matthew was written in Greek. The Greek word translated “by” in this verse is the word “ὑπὸ” (hupo). “ὑπὸ” means “under”, but depending on context can by translated as “about” or “by”. According to Strong’s, it is often used with the meaning "under authority" of someone working directly as a subordinate.”[ii]
Jesus was acting under the authority of the Holy Spirit as a subordinate.
This is how we should all live.
Galatians 5:16 says:
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves.
Walking or living with the Holy Spirit as our guide is expected of us as God’s children. This is further borne out by Ephesians 4:30, which says:
And do not bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.
Jesus was living as a man, a human being, should live. The Holy Spirit directed Jesus into the wilderness. There in the wilderness Jesus fasted. For forty days and forty nights, He was alone with God. This is reminiscent of the forty days and forty nights that Moses was on the mountain alone with God. When Moses spent those forty days and nights alone with God, he was transformed. His face shone so brilliantly that people could not bear to look upon it. However, when he came down off the mountain, he was faced with a rebellious and stiff-necked people that constantly pushed him to his limits.
We are not told about how Jesus’ forty days and nights affected Him. However, we are told that He became hungry. Here again, we face the humanity of Jesus. Throughout the gospels we are reminded of His humanity, as he grew tired, slept, ate and walked with the disciples. Although He was God, having emptied Himself, He was subject to normal human limitations. It is clear that He was tested in every way we are.
This humanity leads into the first test or temptation. Matthew 4:3-4 says:
3During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”
4But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say,
‘People do not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
We are all tempted in the same way, because we are tempted to try to meet our own needs in our own way. We are tempted to step out for “under” the Holy Spirit and do things our own way.
More than a thousand years prior to this, God tested the Israelites in the wilderness in relation to bread. Deuteronomy 8:3 says:
Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
Jesus used this exact passage to turn away the temptation. Notice that it says that God humbled them by letting them go hungry, and He did this to teach them. Here is a key concept in our relationship with God. Deuteronomy 8:5 says it like this:
Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the LORD your God disciplines you for your own good.
Just before testing His Son in the wilderness, God had given testimony that “This is my dearly loved Son.” (Matthew 3:17) Just before putting Job through the worst testing ever, God had pointed out Job and said, “Have you noticed my servant Job?” God allows us to be tested because He loves us. Even Jesus learned obedience by the things that he suffered. (Hebrews 5:8)
So, the first lesson in obedience that Jesus learned was to trust God no matter what the circumstances looked like. No food, no problem. God will work it out if we are walking under (in obedience to) the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 4:5-7 records the second test.
5Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, 6and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say,
‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’”
7Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the LORD your God.’”
If the first test was in relation to bodily needs, this second test was in relation to pride.
Jesus called what the devil was suggesting “testing God”.
There is one command of the Lord where He challenges us to put Him to the test and that is in relation to our giving. Malachi 3:10 says:
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies, "I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!
Other than tithing, we are not to test God.
An extreme example of testing God is snake handling as a worship practice. Mark 16:18 says:
They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.
This clearly has happened. Acts 28 tells about when Paul was gathering wood for a fire, a deadly snake fastened itself to Paul’s hand. Paul suffered no ill effects. Missionaries and God’s people have told many incredible stories of God’s miraculous preservation and working in their lives. However, these were all in the normal working of their lives while they were walking under (in obedience to) the Holy Spirit. This statement from Mark 16:18 does not apply to putting God to the test by purposely “proving” that one has the faith to put their hand in a box of snakes.
We are all tempted in this area because we know God loves us. Surely, God wants us to be happy. So, why shouldn’t we live together (outside of marriage)? God will forgive us. God’s love for us does not mean that we can sin with impunity. Don’t let the devil appeal to your pride, pride in position, pride in family, pride in achievement.
If the second test is in the area of pride, the third is in the area of our worship.
Matthew 4:8-10 says:
8Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9“I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.”
10“Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say,
‘You must worship the LORD your God
and serve only him.’”
Jesus’ response to this temptation was strong and immediate. “Get out of here, Satan.” The devil had stepped over the line. He had suggested that something would take the place of God in Jesus’ heart. The mere suggestion of such a thing brought an angry response from Jesus. The kingdoms of the world, riches and power could never take the place of God in Jesus’ heart, and yet that is exactly what Satan was suggesting.
As humans, we are all tempted in this area. Some want fame. Some want fortune. Some just want a good time. However, whatever takes the place of God in our hearts is an unspeakable idolatry.
Jesus’ response is taken from Deuteronomy 6:13. This is one of the most important passages in the Old Testament, because it is all based on Deuteronomy 6:4-5, which says:
4“Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. 5And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.
According to Jesus, this is the first and greatest commandment. Nothing is more important, nothing.
We are all tempted in these three ways. God allows us to be tested so that we learn obedience. Remember, Jesus is greater than the devil. He is always with you to help you. He intercedes for you with the Father because He understands our weakness. 1 Corinthians 10:13 explains:
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
God has given us an example, a mediator, an intercessor and a High Priest to help us deal with temptation, and still we make excuses for ourselves and continue to give in to our favorite temptations. What will it take for us to be free?
Repent. Confess your sins to God and surrender to the control of the Holy Spirit.
[i] Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Steam, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.