On the Mount of Temptation: “Are You Really…?”

Your greatest enemies are not Muslims, Hindus or atheists, but false teachers in the churches. They are the ones being used by Satan in deceiving you.

Scripture Readings: Deuteronomy 6:10-19; Matthew 4:1-11; Text: Matthew 4:8-10


Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness by James Tissot, 1886-94

The temptation of Jesus is a good example of how a Christian is able to avoid sin. Firstly, the Holy Spirit led him up to the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. God never tempts anyone to sin (Jas 1:13), but he tested his Son so he would fulfill all that the Law and the Prophets prophesied about him, and to be able to be “like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Heb 2:17-18). He was fully qualified to be our Savior because in his full humanity, he experienced all the weaknesses, sufferings and temptations that we also experience in this life. His testing also strengthened him in his mission as the Suffering Servant of God, just as his people are strengthened by testing (Heb 11:17).

The Spirit guided and empowered Jesus throughout his earthly life, especially in his testing in the wilderness. The Gospel of Mark does not use the word “led,” but the more forceful “drove out”–driven out to the desert to be tested. Because he was led by the Spirit, the fruits of the Spirit are evident in all of his life (Gal 5:16-18).

Secondly, because he was well-acquainted with the Scriptures, he used them to overcome the devil’s lies. He answered each of the three temptations with these opening words, “It is written…” The word of God is the Truth that exposes Satan’s lies, deceptions, and twisting of God’s word.

Why did Satan try to tempt Jesus into committing sin? If we go all the way back to the Garden of Eden, we could also ask why the serpent tempt Adam and Eve to disobey God’s covenant of works. The devil reasoned that if our first parents sinned, God would destroy them and all of creation. But he did not know that God would be able to save his people and his creation even after he succeeded in plunging the whole creation into sin through his wicked schemes.

All throughout Biblical history, the devil attempted to destroy God’s people–from Adam, to Abraham, to Moses, to Israel—through violence, lies and deceptions. Finally, when Jesus arrived, he tried to kill Jesus soon after his birth. And here in the wilderness, he tried to destroy him and his mission to save his people from sin by tempting him to sin. If Jesus succumbed, even in his mind, to the devil’s temptations, then Jesus would be disqualified from being the spotless, blameless sacrificial Lamb of God. God’s redemptive plan for his chosen people would have been thwarted.

For the rest of the sermon, click here.


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