Bible Studies, The Gospels

First Temptation of Jesus Christ in the Wilderness

Six Reminders

There are six reminders from what we learned last Sunday night that I would like to discuss here.  First is that there is a spiritual world.  Second, we are involved in a spiritual war.  All of us are involved in spiritual warfare.  It not just Christians that are attacked by Satan, or really bad people that get persuaded to do things for evil, it is all of us.  And if we do not realize that we are in a war, then we might verge of wrecking our lives, especially if we do not even know we are in a battle.  This war is between two conflicting kingdoms (Christ and Satan).  This war is a Continual struggle (Christians and demons).  Although Christ has already won the victory of death and we wait for His return to establish the new heavens and the new earth and since we read in revelations what happens to Satan upon that day, we can assume, that although the War has been won, Satan will still do everything in his power to keep those that do not believe in Christ in their sin, and those that do believe in Christ, doubting His goodness.

This leads us to our third point.  Our enemy in this spiritual war is difficult.  Knowing his final destination does not make Satan work less at tempting us, but even more intensely until his final day.  However, we should not fear the enemy because we have learned from the book of Job that God is over Satan and that Satan cannot do anything outside of the will of God.  Therefore, we can trust God when we go through trials because we know he loves us and we can be confident that He will use it for our good and His glory, just as He did for Job.

Fourth, the stakes in this spiritual war are eternal.  Not fighting this war is not an option because it has eternal stakes.  The war is not just on you, but the entire church.  Therefore, if was to fail, even though, I am confident in my salvation and that I would still go to  heaven, it would still have eternal ramifications because if I was to fail then my witness of God’s Word would be corrupted and not only would the world be skeptical of my testimony, but also the church that I serve.

Fifth, the scope of this spiritual war is universal.  No one is making it out of this battle unaffected.  Everyone is going to be tempted.  It is how you respond to the temptation is what defines you as a man or woman of God.  And it is impossible to defeat this temptation without the work of the Holy Spirit working inside you in the process of sanctification, but that does not mean that we can be lazy, but that we will pray that the Holy Spirit will incline us to become more motivated to work harder against the battle of temptation.

Finally, our Sixth reminder is that our involvement in this spiritual war is personal.  There are no new temptations.  We are attacked in the same ways that Jesus was attacked in this passage.  We are being attacked every day and we are even being tempted right now.  Satan will tempt you in every way until he finds a weak spot and then he will attack there full force.  We see in this passage that Jesus was hungry, so what does Satan do?  He tempts Jesus into turning the stones into bread.  Here we see that Jesus was tempted to fulfill his wants apart from God’s will.  However, Jesus trusted the all-satisfying all-sufficient goodness of the father.  Although will not be tempted to turn rocks into bread, but we will be tempted to meet our God given desires in an ungodly way.

We are tempted to fulfill our wants apart from God’s will.  For example with food, the desire to eat was naturally given to us by God so that we would not starve to death.  However, we corrupt it and over eat and our overeating shows one that we love to self-gratify ourselves and too that we do not trust God to provide food for us later on, the next time that we get hungry.

Same thing with thirst, God gave us thirst so that we would not die of dehydration.  However, often we obey our thirst in a way that does not glorify God by what we drink.  It is also the same with our sexual desire.  God gave us our sex drive for us to be able to multiply the earth and for the bonding of a husband and wife.  God wants us to get the most joy out of life by having sex only within marriage, with only one spouse.  However, we will be tempted to meet our sexual desire that God gave us for good, for ungodly purposes.  Having sex outside of marriage is saying to God that he does not know what is best for us.

Two Pictures

Now I also want to remind you that there are two pictures going on in this passage.  First, Jesus is the new man, stepping into the universal human story.  Adam was the first man and failed when he was tempted causing all humanity to inherit his sinful nature.  Jesus is the new man and is victorious against temptation and provides a way for all humanity to come back into the right standing with God.

The second picture is that Jesus is the true son, suffering through in the wilderness.  Israel was God’s chosen people, but did not have faith in God to enter into the Promised Land and had to wander in the wilderness for 40 years.  Jesus fasted 40 days in the wilderness and totally trusted in will of God to provide for him, displaying the Word of God is more valuable than bread alone.  Jesus trusted the all-satisfying, all-sufficient goodness of the Father.

Does god Tempt Us?

We are tempted by Satan, who is subordinate, for evil.  We are tested by God, who is sovereign, for good.  What Satan means for evil, God means for our good and His glory.  God tests us just like a silversmith tests silver.  He heats us up with fire so that he can purify it and remove the impurities, it is a painful process, but the result is a better and more useful piece of silver.

Could Jesus have sinned?

            By a show of hands who thinks Jesus could have sinned, now who thinks that Jesus could not have sinned?  Well you both would be right.  Jesus is fully man therefore he was fully tempted.  However, Jesus is fully God, therefore, God cannot be tempted.  To help you get your brain around this difficult truth, I want you to think of someone that you love most on this earth.  Now I want you to picture imagine that someone wants you to murder them.  Although you could physically murder them, at the same time it would be impossible for you ever to do it.

Why Should We Fast?

It is important to have a purpose when fasting because without a purpose, fasting can be a miserable, self-centered experience.  Fasting is not to be a legalistic routine, but a privilege and an opportunity to seek God’s grace that is open to us as often as we desire.  “Self-indulgence is the enemy of gratitude, and self-discipline usually its friend and generator.  That is why gluttony is a deadly sin.  The early desert fathers believed that a person’s appetites are linked: full stomachs and jaded palates take the edge from our hunger and thirst for righteousness.  They spoil the appetite for God” (Plantinga, 1988).

In our passage today, we see that Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights in order to spiritually strengthen Himself and to dedicate Himself to God for the beginning of His public ministry.  In the spiritual strength of that prolonged fast Jesus was prepared to overcome a direct onslaught of temptation from Satan himself, the strongest He would face until Gethsemane.

Jesus privately dedicated Himself during this fast to the Father for the public ministry that He would begin soon thereafter.  Therefore, the first purpose of fasting is dedicate ourselves and to help us grow spiritually in order to overcome temptation.  We are in spiritual warfare and sometimes it is good for us to weaken our physical bodies in order to strengthen our spiritual ones.

The second purpose of fasting is to strengthen our prayers.  When we fast, we should be like Jesus and say that we desire God and hearing His word, more than desire fulfilling our fleshy desires.  Therefore, when you feel your hunger pains use it as a reminder that 1.) that you love God more than you love food, and 2.) to remind you to pray for whatever you fasted for.

The Bible does not teach that fasting is a kind of spiritual hunger strike that compels God to do our bidding.  If we ask for something outside of God’s will, fasting does not cause Him to reconsider.  Fasting does not change God’s hearing so much as it changes our praying.  In his book God’s Chosen Fast, Arthur Wallis remarked,

Fasting is calculated to bring a note of urgency and importunity into our praying, and to give force to our pleading in the court of heaven.  The man who prays with fasting is giving heaven notice that he is truly in earnest….Not only so, but he is expressing his earnestness in a divinely-appointed way.  He is using a means that God has chosen to make his voice to be heard on high.

God is always pleased to hear the prayers of His people, but He is also pleased when we choose to strengthen our prayers in a way He has ordained.  (Whitney, 1991)

Second of all, we see that Jesus practiced solitude in preparation of His temptation.  With that fullness the Holy Spirit led him into solitude for forty days.  He went away from family and friends and crowds and lived in the desert for forty days.  That is almost six weeks.  No radio.  No television.  No computers.  No cellphones.  No text messages.  And this wasn’t the only time: Luke 5:16 shows that other times Jesus went away alone.  It must be that preparation for ministry demands significant times of solitude.  We simply cannot maintain a radical God-centeredness under an unbroken barrage of human interaction.  The depth and value of what you bring in your heart to other people will depend on what you do with your solitude.

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