Before Jesus began His ministry here in this world, He spent time in the desert fasting and praying. During this time, Satan came to tempt Jesus with three weaknesses of mankind.
“For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” 1 John 2:16 (NIV)
These are three tools the devil uses to manipulate all of us – the lust of the flesh – the lust of the eyes – the pride of life. Of course, Jesus could not be tempted by the devil, and the way he responded to Satan is a profound lesson we all need to consider.
Satan began his assault on Jesus by appealing to His hunger – the lust of the flesh. Having fasted for many days, Jesus would have had a strong desire to satisfy the need for food. Standing firm against the devil’s attack, Jesus quoted scripture (Deuteronomy 8:3).
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 (NIV)
We all have our own cravings to fulfill the desires of our bodies that we must deal with on a daily basis. Jesus is teaching us that we are not only sustained by food, we are completely sustained by God. First and foremost in our life is our duty to God.
Satan’s second assault on Jesus was a test of his pride of life. The devil challenged Jesus to demonstrate the power of God. Again, Jesus answered the devil with a quote from the Bible (Deuteronomy 6:16).
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” Matthew 4:7 (NIV)
We all have talents and skills that we depend on to help us get through life. The devil often uses those abilities against us by stimulating our pride. It feels good to be the best at something and the devil knows how to use that weakness to push us away from God.
Jesus had no reason to prove the power of God – that power is an absolute certainty and in no need of proof. If we are likewise certain of our own abilities, there will be no need to show off or seek ungodly attention to prove our superiority. We are not to trust in our own abilities – we are to trust in God.
Satan’s final assault on Jesus targeted the lust of the eyes. Satan offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if He would only worship the devil. Of course, Jesus responded by quoting scripture (Deuteronomy 6:13).
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” Matthew 4:10 (NIV)
We all have cravings to attain greater material wealth. Who doesn’t want a bigger house, a new car, or a larger bank account? These things are not in any way evil unless you have made a decision to use the devil’s assistance to acquire them. The devil is clever and will make following him seem like an honest way to get ahead in life; be careful, seek first God’s direction and plan your life based on that instruction.
Jesus stood His ground against Satan by depending on the Word of God. We need to follow that precise plan of action as we encounter the devil in our own lives. Submission to the Word of God is how we stay connected to the will of God. Once Satan realized he had no useful avenue of attack against Jesus, he walked away.
“Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.” Matthew 4:11 (NIV)
Jesus demonstrated for us the best way to keep the devil at bay is to stand firmly on the Word of God. If we consider carefully what God wants from us, it is unlikely the devil will have any room to squeeze his way into our life. Stay in the Word and the Word will stay in you, protecting you from the schemes of the devil.
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