Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Matthew 4:1-11


Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil.
2 After He had fasted 40 days and 40 nights, He was hungry.
3 Then the tempter approached Him and said, “If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4 But He answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
5 Then the Devil took Him to the holy city, had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple,
6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: He will give His angels orders concerning you, and, they will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”
7 Jesus told him, “It is also written: Do not test the Lord your God.”
8 Again, the Devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.
9 And he said to Him, “I will give You all these things if You will fall down and worship me.”
10 Then Jesus told him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.”
11 Then the Devil left Him, and immediately angels came and began to serve Him.

A young man, who worked for a travel agent, was sent to a Pacific island. Even though it meant being separated from his girl friend, he accepted the job because it would enable him to earn enough to marry her.

As the lonely weeks went by, she began to have doubts that he was being true to her. After all, the holiday resort where he was working attracted beautiful women from all over the world. The young man declared that he was paying absolutely no attention to them. But he did write this in one of his letters, "I admit that sometimes I'm tempted. But I fight it. I am waiting for the day when I can be with you again."

Not long after he had sent that letter, the young man received a parcel. Inside there was a note and a harmonica. The note said, "I'm sending this to you so you can have something to take your mind off those girls." Dutifully the young man wrote back to his girl friend and told her that he was practising the harmonica every night and thinking only of her.

Eventually the young man's work on the island finished and he flew home. His girl friend was waiting at the airport. As he rushed to embrace her, she held up her hand to stop him and said sternly, "Just hold on there a minute. First I want to hear you play that harmonica!"

Temptation is all to real in our lives. We are tempted by a myriad of things of the world, and all of damage our relationship with the Lord.

Satan tells us two big lies, and he has been perpetuating them ever since the Garden of Eden. The first is that God is mean, vindictive, and a spoilsport whose main role in life is to keep us from being fulfilled and happy. When we step out of bounds, he (God) takes delight in making us pay.

The second lie is that God really doesn't care what we do -- probably doesn't even know. And if he does, his business is to forgive us. He'll always forgive no matter what, so it really doesn't make much difference how we live and what we believe.

Temptation is real, how must we handle it? We are going to apply our paradigm for this sermon series to this question. What would Jesus do about temptation? What DID Jesus do about temptation? And finally, what did Jesus tell us to do about temptation?

How did this chapter get in the gospels (it appears in Matthew, Mark and Luke’s gospels)?

Clearly no one was there to report it, except the Lord Jesus Himself. He clearly wanted to tell His disciples something.

The story is a clear and vivid account from the lips of the Lord Jesus Himself. Why did He tell them this? Clearly to help them when they would be tempted. Hebrews 2:18  For since He Himself was tested and has suffered, He is able to help those who are tested.

The Lord Jesus’ vivid account of this to His disciples must have lived on in His memory as He dealt with many circumstances in His ministry: the wild desolate loneliness of the wilderness, the whisper of Satan’s voice, the offers put before Him.

Joseph Mallord Turner, English painter, invited Charles Kingsley to his studio to see a picture of a storm at sea. Kingsley exclaimed, "It's wonderful! It's so realistic! How did you do it?" The artist replied, "I went to the coast of Holland and engaged a fisherman to take me out to sea in the next storm. Entering his boat as a storm was brewing, I asked him to bind me to the mast. Then he steered his boat into the teeth of the storm. The storm raged with such fury that at times I longed to be in the bottom of the boat where the waves would blow over me. I could not, however. I was bound to the mast. Not only did I see the storm in its raging fury, I felt it! It blew into me, as it were, until I became a part of it. After this terrible ordeal, I returned to my studio and painted the picture."

You are subject to similar temptations.

James 1: 13 No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God.” For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone. 14 But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. 15 Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.

"Brooks says our Enemy will bait our hook with anything we find desirable. This means he will gladly give us sex, money, power, pleasure, fame, fortune and relationships. Satan's goal is for us to take the bait without seeing the hook, and once the hook is in our mouth he then reels us in to take us captive. His gifts are often very good things offered for sinful uses. He'll challenge us to examine the gift to ensure its quality. That is the essence of the trap. The gift may be
good, but the giver is evil. In this way, Satan and demons are akin to a pedophile who seeks to entice children into trust with gifts of candy and toys, only to destroy them.
"When we take the gifts Satan and demons give, we are in essence biting down on the bait. As a result, the hook of sin is in our mouth, and Satan reels us in as his captive so that, as Jesus says in John 8:34, we become slaves to our sin."

1 John 2:16 outlines these areas. "For all that is in the world; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; is not of the Father but is of the world."

In Genesis 3:6, when Satan tempted Eve in the Garden, she saw that the forbidden fruit was "good for food" which corresponds with "the lust of the flesh." She also thought it was "pleasant to the eyes" with relates to "the lust of the eyes." Finally she was convinced by Satan's lies that the fruit was "desirable to make one wise", that was "the pride of life."

1. The Temptation To Choose The Physical Over The Spiritual

3 Then the tempter approached Him and said, “If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4 But He answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

And that meant that Jesus accepted human deprivation, discomfort, suffering. There was no shortcut for Him. His Sonship would take Him all the way through suffering to a hideous death - separated even from His Father. To be Son of God meant to be obedient to God, not to ride some supernatural hovercraft above the griefs and stresses of life, the normal constraints of human existence.

And that teaches you and me that the business of humans is not to achieve the good life, prosperity, comfort, success, ease, in the here and now. It is actually to find eternal life: to relate to God now and for ever. Man cannot live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.

The story is told of John Wesley once challenging a worldly business man about a dishonest business practice. The man said in his own defence, "After all, Mr Wesley, a man must live, mustn't he?" And Wesley just said, "Must he?"

Joseph Parker draws attention to some interesting features in the answers of our Lord to Satan's suggestions. "They were not the result of a keen intellectuality on the part of Christ to which we mortals may not lay claim. They were not the outcome of ready wit nor of an unexpected flash of fire from friction that had not been counted on. They do not bear the marks of inventive genius. They were not answers that came on the spur of the moment as a result of His infinite wisdom. They were not metaphysical arguments elaborately stated and eloquently discussed. BUT they were simple enough for the average child to understand. They were quotations from the Word of God on which He meditated day and night. They were authoritative, not in the form of submitted suggestions. Human reasoning and arguments are weak in conflicts with Satan because they lack authority."

You can defeat Satan every time with Scripture!

This is why study and memorization are so important. Psalm 119:11 says, "Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You!"

That Jesus responded with scripture is important for us to remember -- because when you are in the middle of a battle things can get pretty confusing and the Devil's suggestions can seem to make a lot of sense. We need to have an objective truth, a marker, that we can look to and say, "No matter what, I know this is true." Let's face it, you and I are not smarter than the Devil -- is there anyone here that has not been tricked before? Is there anyone here who has not said, "Well, it seemed right at the time?" The Devil doesn't usually come straight at you. He is tricky about things.

2. The Temptation To Choose The Spectacular Over The Simple

5 Then the Devil took Him to the holy city, had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple,
6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: He will give His angels orders concerning you, and, they will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”
7 Jesus told him, “It is also written: Do not test the Lord your God.”

Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place,

No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;

For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways,

In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone (Psalm 91:9-12).

But Jesus declined the offer. Instead, He cited Dt. 6:16, whose context is a sharp warning to fear and serve only God and to be certain to do what is right in God's sight. Jesus' interpretation was true to the context and meaning of the passage. Ask yourself, Am I submitting to the Scriptures, or am I using the Scriptures to support my personal agenda?

Mr Hayes wrote:

Sick religion is God-dishonoring. Satan wanted Jesus to use God. We can almost hear him saying, "Take advantage of God. Hold Him to His word. Make Him prove Himself. Use Him to get what you want." The temptation to stand above God, to view God as one more tool or resource at our disposal, is inherent in sick religion. Jesus declared we were to reverence God and to make certain we lived in sub-mission to Him.

What then is the lure of sick religion? Why are we so easily deceived by sick religion? What are the lures it dangles before us? One of its primary strengths is that sick religion often delivers immediate gratification. Satan mistakenly believed Jesus desired followers more than anything else. The tempter suggested that leaping from the temple and being rescued by the angels would produce that result. Satan was right about the people. We are vulnerable to a celebrity's appeal and are addicted to excitement. Many would have followed Jesus if He had taken Satan's recommended action.

One of the things that I have had going through my mind for a long time is how in the world does a church which is caught up in the entertainment culture ever really find a way to keep people's attention, without just putting on the show biz act all the time?

Calvin miller wrote :

This almost seems to me to be Jesus' invitation by Satan to take the show biz route. Look at what the passage is saying. The devil takes Jesus up onto a very high pinnacle, which archaeologists say was about 186 feet above this dry creek, a river moat that surrounded Jerusalem. He says, "If you really want to be famous, Jesus, just jump off this temple, this immense height, and when you land unhurt -- the show biz act -- people will gather around you and you will be instantly famous." Jesus declines this. I think he declines it because he is far more interested in giving them an image of a Christ who wanted to touch people, to change their lives, to understand their hurts, to affirm them, to love them, than to give them a show biz, straw hat and cane routine.

Yet, we do live in the middle of a show biz generation. Every time I think of this, I think of some words that Neal Postman used in a wonderful book that he wrote, a book that talks about amusing ourselves to death. He says, "We have become a couch potato generation. We have divided ourselves into creators and watchers."

I believe Jesus refuses Satan's second temptation because he doesn't want to be a show biz Messiah. I have to remember that the very nature of Satan himself, for instance, probably came because he started skipping his morning alleluias to sing, "I've Got to Be Me." The truth is, of course, that is what selfishness is all about. Show biz often has given us a very narcissistic picture, a very selfish picture of money and influence, and fifteen minutes of fame here and there. I think a wonderful thing happens when we begin to see this other thing, this new cry for the church not to put on a big show. We've had it with churches that put on big shows, and want a church which responds to people who say, "Hey, I'm hurting. My needs are immense. Could you come into my life and touch me with something very important and very real?"

Edmund Hillary made the summit of Mount Everest in 1953. He had climbed the mountain all the way to the top, the first man ever to do that. The thing that impressed me about the whole story was not that Edmund Hillary climbed the mountain, but that he had a companion who climbed the mountain with him. Nobody ever hears his name. His name was Tenzing Norgay. Tenzing, however, climbed the mountain with him and on the way back down the mountain, Hillary fell and was almost lost. He would have been lost without Tenzing Norgay. Tenzing Norgay literally pulled him back up the cable and saved his life and Edmund Hillary lived to tell a great story because of this help from an unknown man. When someone asked Norgay why he didn't make more of it, why he didn't brag about it, he said, "We mountain climbers help each other."

What a great model this would be for our church. We Christians have no need to be on television or make millions of dollars putting out a show. It is time we reversed the process and touched people and say very simply, "We Christians help each other. That's who we are."

But there is a remedy for sick religion. We are to enter into a proper relationship with God. Submission and obedience characterize this relationship. Look at the scripture Jesus used. In Dt. 6, Moses had told the Israelites to worship only God and to keep God's commandments. They were not to put God to the test in any way. Forsaking all false, self-serving idols, they were to submit and to obey God. Only then would all be well for them. But sick religion puts something else or someone else, including self, in God's place. It promises success or some other reward we desire.

3. The Temptation To Choose The Easy Over The Difficult

8 Again, the Devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.
9 And he said to Him, “I will give You all these things if You will fall down and worship me.”
10 Then Jesus told him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.”

Thirdly, the devil took Jesus to the top of a mountain and showed him the kingdoms of the world and all their splendour. He offered to give it all to Jesus if he would bow down and worship him. I guess the thought that softens us up to give in to every kind of temptation is that God is not completely sovereign. The temptation to doubt, despair, blasphemy and suicide crashes into our lives when we begin to think God isn't in control of us, or his church or the world. Perhaps our prayers have been long unanswered, our hearts have been broken, we have passed through multiple pain - how can we believe that God is still in control of this sick world?

The devil comes to Jesus, shows him the glory of the world and says, "I can give you this if you worship me. It is mine to give. I've got the power. Let's be realistic. How can a God of love be in charge of a world of hatred? Who runs the kingdoms of the world? Who are they following? They are all in my power, and I can give them to whomsoever I will. Come unto me, Jesus of Nazareth, and I will give you their glory" That is what Satan says to Christ

He is promising the Saviour the power and splendour without the cross. Instant victory. Instant majesty without pain. Just tip your hat to Satan and it's yours. Millions do. God is really powerless, and so let's go for glory in the world

Jesus knew He faced suffering and death if He chose servanthood as His method of ministry. This kind of power would offer a way to avoid the pain and be Lord over all people. Satan was saying to Him, "Why not just become an earthly king and order them to do right?" What could be wrong with that?

Hidden in all of the thought processes involved inevitably is an excuse. With all that power, think about the good things I could do. Wouldn't have to worry about the red tape. Wouldn't have to concern myself with possible opposition. With absolute power I can do anything.

Understand, Jesus wanted to save people from the power and the consequence of sin and bring them into a right relationship with God. Yet, at every turn during His earthly ministry, He was faced by the opposition of his hard-hearted enemies' and by His disciples' ineffective efforts. It would have been easy to justify taking Satan's offer.

Listen, we are not immune from the temptation of power. Many seek it for its own sake, some for self-protection. Some for the sake of doing good. Having absolute power tempts us in all areas of our lives: family, business, society, government, and the church. And my friends, understand, it is there for the taking.

There are two key elements that we must embrace if we want to avoid the temptation Satan puts before us. First, notice that Jesus made a decisive choice to worship God and only God. He saw the connection between power and Satan. In order to have one, you had to worship the other. Jesus refused. Second, Jesus made a definite choice to embrace God's way of ministry. Instead of the conquering king, he would gladly be the suffering servant even though making the choice set Him on His course to the cross of Calvary. He would have no earthly crown, no armies, not even a place to lay His head. But He would have God and the ministry God intended.

Christ conquers by obeying the Word of God, "it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only'" (Matt.4:10). He hides behind the word. Only by worshipping God can the king be set on the holy hill of Zion. "Ask of me," for this, says the Lord. He is the one giving enthronement to his Son, not Satan. Jesus will not bow before the devil because he is determined to wait on God. "Worship the Lord your God!" The Lord is more or less saying, I’m done with your petty attractions devil, there is only one thing that counts, obeying the Lord and living all of My life under His Obedience and in worship to Him. Is there obedience in our lives? Not a perfect obedience but is our life lived on a new plane? Applying God's word to our personal lives is your major task. Are you doing that? Worshipping God is the duty of every human being. Jeremiah 29:13 where God says, "You will seek me and find me; when you seek me WITH ALL YOUR HEART." There is only one reason to come to this service -- to seek and find GOD! And the Lord God says to you straight from his word every Sunday, "You will find me when you seek me with ALL YOUR HEART!"

A woman was playing in the surf at Nelson Bay in a blow up canoe. She was enjoying the comfort of relaxing on the airfilled canoe that kept her afloat. When she realized that she had been swept about a half mile out from the beach, she would have begun to scream, but no one would have heard her. As you know her body washed up last week on Stockton beach. She did not see her danger until she was beyond her own strength and ability.

Don’t drift through life in a plastic boat on a sea of temptations. Resist them now before they draw you in a current far too strong for you ending in Satan’s LSD Lust Sin and Death.

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