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“The Crisis of Temptation”
by Art Sadlier   
December 3rd, 2012

The Preparation

In Matthew one, we see Christ born a King and Messiah (Saviour). We then have thirty years of preparation in obscurity for His ministry. Then we have His baptism, which reveals the commitment of himself to the ministry His Father gave to Him and the approval of His Father for that ministry.

Now we see His temptation. His victory over temptation proves Him morally qualified to be both Saviour and King.

The Conflict

This text reveals a tremendous conflict between Satan and the new man Christ who came in the flesh. Though Christ is God of very God, yet He is also Jesus born the new man. This is the continuation of the conflict of the ages. It all began in Eden, read Isaiah 14:12-14. It continued in Eden as Adam and Eve were enticed and deceived by sin. They became sinners and were shut out of God’s presence!

In Matthew a new Adam (Christ) comes on the scene. He is called the second Adam by Paul in 1 Cor. 15. He is a man like us, yet without a sin nature. He is the progenitor of a new race of men. He has come to redeem men and to make them partakers of His divine nature. He has come to make men participants in a new race of men.

The launching of Christ’s ministry was the launching of a campaign to overthrow Satan! This battle would be the most important conflict ever to take place between man and Satan! It is fitting for both sides that this battle should take place immediately at the start of Christ’s ministry.

The Place

The place of the conflict was selected by God’s Spirit. Verse 1, “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” It was the Spirit of God that led Christ into the wilderness to be tempted. All through Christ’s life and ministry God was sovereignly in control, selecting His time and His place for each event.

See the contrast between the place of Adam’s defeat and the place of Christ’s victory over temptation. The First Adam was tested under the most ideal circumstances. He was tempted in a beautiful garden with enough to eat, and not alone but with companionship, and he failed the test.

The Second Adam was tested under the most adverse circumstances possible, hungry and alone in a hot desolate wilderness. He was surrounded by wild animals and He was tired and weary, and He passed the test. The secret of victory over temptation or the cause of failure in the matter of temptation lies within the man and not without. Christ’s victory was related to that which was within, a sinless nature and a sinless heart.

We also live in the place of temptation. This world is a barren spiritual wilderness. Since the fall temptation has been a constant, unrelenting part of human life. Man’s problem of temptation is related to that which is within him; a sinful nature and a sinful heart.

The Purpose

John has already announced the purpose when he pronounced Him to be, The Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

If Christ is to be the Messiah, the Saviour of the world, the King, then He must be proven to be without sin Himself. We have the parallel in the sacrificial lamb which was a type of Christ. It had to be a perfect lamb without spot or blemish, in like manner Christ had to be demonstrated to be sinless! The temptation was to prove just that; to prove that Christ was morally able to atone for sin and to prove that Christ was morally able to rule the world in righteousness.

I suspect that the whole forty days were filled with temptations. I suspect that the Spirit of God just zeros in on three climactic temptations.

Let us look at the some of these temptations.

 An Appeal to Act Independently of God

Verse 3, Command these stones be made bread Notice first that the tempter came to Him, we cannot say in what form the Devil came to Him. God’s Word does not tell us. He comes to you and I and we cannot see him or touch him, sometimes we are not even aware of his presence. Yet he comes over and over to us!

If thou be the Son of God,” I believe this is not to raise doubt but to appeal as a temptation. I think it can be read in this manner,Since thou art the Son of God.” The devil is suggesting three things here.

Exercise your rights, Satan is suggesting; surely as the Son of God you have some rights of your own. Surely as a son, you have a right to act independently of God the father. That was Satan’s basic thrust, to entice Christ to act independently of His Father!

Our whole society is built on the crumbling foundations of this lie of Satan! We hear constantly about Individual rights and human rights that usurp God’s authority in the lives of men and women. We have heard about a woman who has had three children out of marriage and has murdered all three in her womb. We read that society has risen up to defend her right to do that. God’s Word teaches that men and women were created by God and are accountable to Him. Satan comes to you and me and to men and women everywhere, with the lie that we have the right to do whatever we want. God says,The soul that sinneth it shall die,” Ezekiel 18:4.

God doesn’t care about you.

Satan continues his temptation of Christ. The implications of Satan were, you were born in a cattle shed, God doesn’t care about. You had to flee to Egypt because God wouldn’t protect you. God forsook you and you spent thirty years in obscurity with a common family in the hick town of Nazareth.  God doesn’t care about you! Satan still uses that tactic on God’s people today, have you been there?

Satan seems to imply, you are exhausted, hot, desolate and very hungry. God is going let you starve to death. You had better look after yourself; God isn’t going to look after you. You have the power to look after yourself, go ahead!

How similar to Genesis 3:5, For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Satan was saying to Eve, “God is holding out on you!  God is holding something from you! God doesn’t really love you! Go ahead and exercise your rights! Don’t let God cheat you!”

Satan says the same thing to men and women today. God is holding out on you. God is holding something back from you. Don’t let God cheat you, you are going to miss out. Their so many exciting things out there in the world, pleasure, booze, sex, drugs, etc. God’s way is not clear. God’s way is not fair. God’s way is not the best way. Go ahead exercise your rights, don’t let God cheat you.

Satan hates God! This attack on Christ was an attempt to fracture the unity of God. In his incredible pride and audacity he is attacking God. He is attempting to destroy God!

The answer - Live by God’s Word

We have Christ’s answer in verse 4,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.”  Christ replies to Satan, “Man shall not live by bread alone

There is a world out there that tells us; fornication is alright, just be careful you don’t get an STD. Adultery is alright, but try not to break up a family if you can. Homosexuality is a legitimate alternative life style. Drunkenness is just good fun, but don’t drink and drive. Abortion is alright, a woman has rights and comfort is more important than a human life. Anything goes, try not to hurt others in the process.

Jesus is crying out No! No! No! Man must live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God!” The problem in our world is that man has long since said, “There is no God!”  “The world and everything in it was not created by God!”  “God doesn’t own it!”  “It just evolved and there is no God!” And in the vacuum man has created he is busy deciding what is right and what is wrong. But man has no yardsticks to go by, so he has cast off all restraints! But Jesus said, not so!Man must live by every word that comes out of the mouth of God. Realize that God has made you and you are accountable to Him. Every man’s responsibility is to find out from God’s Word what God’s will is and then to do it.

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