1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written,
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” [Dt 8:3]
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him 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 command his angels concerning you,’
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” [Ps 91, vv. 11 and 12]
7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and him only shall you serve.’” [Dt 6:16]
11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
1. This Gospel gives us a lesson in how to handle difficulty or temptation – Go to the Bible.
a. Jesus gives us the example.
b. This account tells us that Satan is ready to needle us when we’re under pressure.
c. God knows that will happen and he has given us the refuge of his word.
d. To benefit from the bible, we must read it, absorb “every word” not just the words we like, and interpret it honestly so it is consistent.
2. The Devil is persistent. He tries three times here to get Jesus to yield. And he returned later as Jesus neared his passion and crucifixion.
3. The Devil is sly. He hits points of weakness (hunger, fatigue, anxiety).
4. The Devil is no joke, no funny character with horns and pitchfork.
5. The Devil is a serious enemy.
6. “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you. Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you. Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:5-8.
7. The Devil knows the scriptures and can use them to manipulate. In this passage he cites Psalm 91, vv. 11 and 12 to Jesus. But he’s dishonest about it.
8. It was his first point of attack, to distort God’s word and suggest it cannot be trusted: “Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” Gen 3:1.
9. “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” Jn 8:44.
10. C. S. Lewis, introduction to The Screwtape Letters:
Now, if by “the Devil” you mean a power opposite to God and, like God, self-existent from all eternity, the answer is certainly No. There is no uncreated being except God. God has no opposite. No being could attain a “perfect badness” opposite to the perfect goodness of God; for when you have taken away every kind of good thing (intelligence, will, memory, energy, and existence itself) there would be none of him left. The proper question is whether I believe in devils. I do. That is to say, I believe in angels, and I believe that some of these, by the abuse of their free will, have become enemies to God and, as a corollary, to us. These we may call devils. They do not differ in nature from good angels, but their nature is depraved.
Devil is the opposite of angel only as Bad Man is the opposite of Good Man. Satan, the leader or dictator of devils, is the opposite, not of God [or Jesus], but of Michael.
11. But here is the good news, Jesus has defeated Satan.
12. “I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Jn 16:33
13. “We know that anyone born of God does not sin, but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.” Jas 5:18
14. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Jas 4:17
15. So, here’s the point,
a. God’s word is our refuge. God gives it to us to build us up. It’s our survival manual. Pilot Scott Francis O'Grady in 1990’s.
b. We do need to take the Devil seriously. He has some limited authority over this world, and we see him in action. His mischief can hurt us.
c. Ultimately, though, we don’t need to be afraid of him, because we have the protection of Jesus, who has overcome. God restrains him and does not allow him to do us any permanent harm.
d. The Lord’s prayer ends, “and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil (ponērou) perhaps best understood as “the evil one.”
We must discipline our lives, but we must do so all the year round, and not merely at stated periods. I must discipline myself at all times.
Quoted in Donald S Whitney (2020). (p. 287). Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Revised and Updated Edition.