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How Did Jesus Defeat Satan's Temptations?
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him,“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” - Luke 4:1-4, ESV
Both Matthew 4 and Luke 4 record Jesus' temptation in the wilderness. Jesus fasted for forty days. Back on Day 7, I covered Matthew's account of Jesus' temptation, focusing on why Jesus had to be tempted and then briefly on how he overcome. Today, I'd like to focus more attention on how Satan tempted Jesus and how Jesus was able to defeat the devil for us.
Satan came at Jesus when He was alone, hungry and weak. These are times that Satan often chooses for temptation. When we are with others, especially when we are with other Christians, and when we are well-fed and well-rested, strong and healthy, temptation is easier to resist and seems less compelling. But Satan knows that when he can get us alone, and when we are tired, hungry, lonely, weak or angry, we are more prone to give in to his temptations.
Satan tempted Jesus in the same three common ways he attacks all of us: with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and pride of life. (See 1 John 2:15-16) When Satan tempted Jesus to turn the stone into bread, he was tempting Him to meet His own physical appetite apart from God's will. When he showed Him the kingdoms of the world, this is a "lust of the eyes," materialism. Finally, when Satan took Jesus to the pinnacle of the Temple and tempted Him to throw Himself down, he was tempting Jesus to show off and demonstrate to everyone clearly who He was. This was a "pride of life" temptation.
Notice also that all three temptations were short-cut temptations. In the right time, God the Father would faithfully provide Jesus with food, with the nations and with glory. But Satan wanted Jesus to feed Himself, grasp for the kingdom without suffering, and enter into glory without the cross. Satan is the master of the promised short-cut, and we need to beware his voice when we're tempted to cut corners.
So, how did Jesus defeat Satan?
First of all, Jesus was "full of the Holy Spirit" (v. 1). Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit at His baptism. Though He was and is fully God, He was also fully and authentically human, and in His humanity He was tested and tempted in our place as our Messiah. Jesus needed the Holy Spirit to fill Him - to empower Him - so He could stand against the temptations of the devil.
Secondly, Jesus defeated Satan with the word of God. The word of God is given to us as the sword of the Spirit, wielded in battle to defeat the enemy of our souls. Jesus had obviously memorized large parts of Deuteronomy, maybe even the whole book. He was ready to properly and effectively counter Satan's lies - even Satan's manipulation of Scripture - with the sharp, powerful truth of the Bible.
But notice that even when Jesus had won this victory, Satan "departed from him until an opportune time." Satan would come back with force when Jesus was at His weakest point, in the Garden Of Gethsemane on the night He was betrayed. Satan is a restless and deadly enemy, leaving us alone only to come again at "an opportune time." If we are to resist him, we need the power of the Holy Spirit, the truth of God's word and the ready intercession of our Great High Priest.
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." - Hebrews 4:15-16, ESV
Prayer Based on Psalm 106:
Yesterday, I gave you my prayer based on Psalm 106. Today, here is the prayer from Pray All the Psalms:
We praise you, O Lord.
We give thanks to you Lord, for you are good;
your love endures forever.
Who can proclaim your mighty acts, O Lord
or fully declare your praise?
Blessed are they who maintain justice,
who constantly do what is right.
Remember us, O Lord,
when you show favour to your people,
come to our aid when you save us,
that we may enjoy the prosperity of your chosen
that we may share in the joy of your nation
and join your inheritance in giving praise.
For you qualified us to share in the inheritance of
in the kingdom of light.
For you rescued us from the dominion of darkness
and brought us into the kingdom of your Son,
whom you love.
In him we have redemption,
the forgiveness of sins.
Yet we have sinned, even as our fathers did;
we have done wrong and acted wickedly.
We are no different from ancient Israel,
we, the Church, have been rebellious too.
When Israel's fathers were in Egypt,
they gave no thought to your miracles;
they did not remember your many kindnesses,
and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea.
Yet you saved them for your name’s sake,
just as you saved us,
to make your mighty power known.
You rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up;
you led them through the depths as through a desert.
You saved them from the hand of the foe;
from the hand of the enemy you redeemed them.
The waters covered their adversaries;
not one of them survived.
Then they believed you promises
and sang your praise.
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