Have you ever heard the quote, “When it rains, it pours”? We all know what’s it like to go through a difficult season where it feels like all hell is breaking loose and we can’t seem to catch a break. But we can rest knowing that Jesus faced every type of temptation that we experience, and He is the perfect example of handling spiritual warfare.
In Matthew 4, after being declared the Son of God, he is led to the wilderness where he fasts for 40 days and 40 nights. He is hungry, tired, alone, and at his weakest point, and then in walks Satan who tempts him 3 different times in 3 different ways.
So, if Jesus experienced temptation, just know that experiencing temptation is normal for every believer because there is an enemy whose full-time job is to find ways to attack Christians. He hates God’s people and he will do whatever he can to steal from them, kill them, and destroy them.
But if Jesus successfully handled it, it should serve as a hopeful reminder that we can too! So let’s look at His example and response in Matthew 4.
1. Fight with the Word.
The first way that Satan tempted Jesus was with his physical needs. He knew that Jesus had been fasting for 40 days and nights and he tries to get Him to use His divine powers to turn stones into bread.
Isn’t that something? Satan not only tempted Jesus in his weakness, but he also tempted him in His strength. But Jesus knew His identity and His purpose. He knew that it wasn’t the right time to use His divine powers to fulfill a natural need. So what did he do?
He responded with the Word! He referenced Deuteronomy 8:3 when Moses told the Children of Israel that we should want God more than we want His provision. Instead of having money, food, or possessions, having God and His Word is better.
One of the only offensive spiritual weapons that God has given us is our sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). It’s amazing because Jesus responded with a spiritual weapon that we all have access to: the Bible.
2. Continue to Trust God.
The second way that Satan tempted Jesus was with possessions and power. Satan took Jesus to the top of the temple in Jerusalem, which was the tallest point in that area. From where he stood, Jesus was able to see the whole city of Jerusalem.
Imagine being on the top of Mount Everest and how far out around the mountain you’d be able to see. It may not have been that high, but Jesus had quite a view and Satan asked Jesus to jump off the Temple and have his angels save Him. Satan basically wanted Jesus to force God the Father into a supernatural event that would again prove that He was the Son of God in a way that would be public for the entire city of Jerusalem to see.
And what made it worse is Satan quoted Scripture to Jesus, but he took it out of context and wrongly applied the Word to the situation. There’s so many things that we can pull from this alone. First and foremost, it’s important to remember that the enemy knows the Word too, and he will try to use the Word to manipulate you so that you will sin.
That’s why it’s so important to study the Bible and know what the Word says. The way I’ve heard it before, you can’t let the enemy know the playbook aka the Bible better than you. Like Jesus, we must know how to rightly divide the Word (2 Timothy 2:15).
In addition, we should make an intentional effort to never take the Word out of context or wrongly apply it to our situations. We cannot twist the Word to make it fit our agendas. It’s tough to hear but when we do this, then we are no better than the enemy.
So, what did Jesus do? Instead of giving into temptation, He fought with the Word yet again and He also applied it in the right context. He referenced the Children of Israel again but this time from Exodus 17 who tried to manipulate God and force Him to do what they wanted. They wanted God to prove that He loved them and cared about them.
If we’re willing to be honest, we do this sometimes when we’re going through difficult seasons! These are the exact types of the thoughts that the enemy will use to tempt us to believe that God doesn’t care about us and if He really did, He would do something about our situation.
But we must follow Jesus’ example. We must combat this type of warfare and not put our Lord God to the test. When we don’t get what we want or when things don’t work out the way we planned, we must continue to trust that God is faithful and that He continues and will always have our best interest in mind.
3. Resist the Devil.
The third way that Satan tried to tempt Jesus was with pride. He showed Jesus everything he owned because the Bible does say that Satan has rule over this world (2 Corinthians 4:4).
When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden, they handed over their God-given authority, which is the whole reason why Jesus had to go to the cross and die for our sins so that we could be restored to our rightful relationship with the Father.
So I know it may seem scary hearing that Satan has power over this world, but the good news (the gospel) is that we don’t have to worry because Jesus took care of all of that on the cross. At the end of the day, we have the same power and authority that raised Jesus from the grave.
But here in this example, Jesus legit does what the Bible says in James 4:7, “Resist the Devil and he will flee from you.” Resisting the devil involves making a decision in our hearts to serve God above all else.
If we need a biblical example to look at, we can look at Job. When Job lost all his possessions, his wealth, his family, and his health, his friends and even his wife tried to convince him to curse God, but Job refused. He made a commitment in His heart to serve and worship God, and that’s exactly what Jesus does too.
So no matter what your situation looks like, choose God. Even if you’ve lost everything and you have no idea how you’re going to make it, make a decision that you won’t give up on God. I know that difficult seasons are difficult, but God uses the enemy’s temptations to build and mature us as believers and it’s difficult to know what’s in you until you’re tested.
What would have happened if Jesus gave in to the enemy’s tactics and schemes? There definitely wouldn’t be any need to write this blog post! But there is hope. In Jesus, you have the victory and God will never put more on your than you can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13).
If you’re going through a challenging season, I have some scripture cards that you can download at the bottom of this post. I encourage you to print them out and post them around your house or your job where you can see. Let them serve as a reminder that God loves you, He cares about you, and that the Word of God has the divine power to demolish strongholds. God is within you and you will not fail (Psalm 46:5)!