Menu

Join us for worship each Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m.

The Temptation of Christ, Parts 3-4

February 2, 2020 Speaker: Kristopher Schaal Series: Temptation

Topic: Expository Passage: Matthew 4:1-11

Matthew 4:1-11 | The Temptation of Christ, Parts 3-4

Good morning! Welcome to Sunday school! Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew 4:1-11. Just to review where we’ve been, we are in a series on temptation. We spent the first three weeks talking about the temptation of Eve. Now this is our third week talking about the temptation of Christ. For the past two weeks, we have gone over introductory material and lessons about how Christ resisted temptation in general. Now we need to consider in detail each of the three temptations listed in this passage. So let’s go ahead and read Matthew 4:1-11.

 

The passage we just read is often referred to as “the temptation of Jesus.” I have referred to it that way myself. There is nothing wrong with that. But let me ask you a question: was this the only time that Jesus faced temptation? How often do you think Satan tempted Jesus? I would assume that He being the Son of God and everything riding on His obedience, Satan tempted Jesus at least as much as he tempts you and me, and probably much, much more often. This idea is actually confirmed by the parallel account in Luke, which states that Satan also tempted Jesus all throughout His 40-day fast (and not just at the end of it) and that when Satan left Jesus in the end, he did so “until an opportune time.” In other words, it was like Satan said to Jesus, “You’ll be seeing me again.”

So this was not the only time Jesus was tempted. However, according to God’s sovereign plan, it was at least one of the most significant times that Jesus was tempted if not the most significant time. This is Satan’s opportunity, in a sense, to “hit Jesus with his best shot.” Satan takes three shots in this passage, and Jesus resists every time.

So if you want to see Satan take his best shot against God and his plan, you need look no further than this passage. It is a clash of massive proportions (and also of massive significance)! But what is amazing in one sense is that in the end, Jesus emerges not only without a scratch or a blemish, but He makes it look easy! (It wasn’t easy, but He made it look easy, because He is the Son of God and Satan has no power over Him.)

So as much as we might like to view this scene as some sort of clash of titans, we realize in the end that Satan never stood a chance. There is only one God, and He is not threatened by His creatures. All it takes is one word from Christ when it’s time for the temptations to end, and Satan slinks away in defeat. He is resolved to wait for a better opportunity, but he has just proved that he will never derail God’s plan.

That said, we need to consider how he tried. There are three temptations described in Matthew 4. The first is, “Turn stones into bread.”

1.  “Stones into Bread” (vv. 2-3)

What is the logic of this first temptation?

Satan leads with the phrase, “if you are the Son of God.” He is not questioning Christ’s sonship, but he is going to draw a wrong implication from that fact. Verse 3 might be better translated, “Since you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” In other words, “Why should You, the Son of God, of all people, starve to death in this wilderness! God doesn’t want that for You! Not only that, but You have the power to change the situation! Why don’t you fix the problem? Command that these stones be made bread!”

Why would it have been sin for Jesus to turn stones into bread? I can think of two reasons.

  • It would have been out of keeping with Christ’s mission to live and suffer as a man.

Here’s a trivia question for you: how many of Christ’s miracles were done solely in order to make His life easier? The answer is “zero.” None of them were done just to make His life easier–they were all done for others and to point to the reality of who He was.

Now that took a lot of self-discipline, didn’t it? I mean, if you were the Son of God and you had a headache, what would you do? But Jesus didn’t do that! Why not?

Pastor Kit just preached through Philippians 2:5-11. Philippians 2:7 says that Christ emptied Himself by taking on flesh. It was an essential part of His God-given mission that Jesus identify with us! And in order for Him to do that, He had to be 100% man, and He had to live an ordinary human life.

Now of course, in some ways, Christ’s life was anything but ordinary. But if He just went around fixing all His problems whenever they came up, how He could He possibly claim to be a great High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses!? The fact is, He could not! No, as soon as Christ walks down that path even once, the entire purpose of His coming is compromised! That is why He had to say no.

There is an important application for us here. Part of your obedience to God is bound up in your willingness to lay down rights when the exercise of those rights is not in keeping with love for God and love for people. If you have the attitude, “Well the Bible never says that I can’t, so it must be okay!” then you are going to go through life sinning all the time! In 1 Corinthians 7-9, Paul describes how he systematically laid down rights in order to better accomplish his mission. Did Paul have the right to get married? Yes! Did he have a right to eat meat offered to idols? Yes. Did he have the right to demand financial support? Yes! But it would have been sin for him to insist on those rights even though doing so would hurt other people!

Christ’s entire mission was about Him giving up rights. Yes, He was the eternal Son of God. But He chose to lay aside those privileges when He came to save us.

Last year, we watched the film, American Gospel. They talked about how prosperity preachers will excuse their indulgence by saying, “I am a child of the king, so I deserve to live large!” As I was studying this passage, I said, “Oh my goodness! That is exactly the argument Satan uses against Christ in v. 3. “You are the Son of God! You don’t deserve to be hungry!” “You are a child of the King! Why not have your own jet?” Because Christ suffered first, and then He was glorified; and I follow in His steps!” That is the answer that we give.

So if Jesus could not miraculously feed Himself–if that option wasn’t on the table for Him, what could He do instead? He could do what any of the rest of us would have had to do in that situation–wait and trust God! And that brings us to the second reason that it would have been sinful for Christ to turn stones into bread–it would betray a lack of trust in His Father.

  • It would betray a lack of trust in the Father, whose will at that particular time was for Jesus to be hungry and who would certainly provide for His Son in His time.

Jesus understood very clearly that for now, God the Father wanted Him to wait. In his systematic theology, theologian Wayne Grudem put it this way: “[H]e apparently realized that it was the Father’s will that he eat nothing during those days but simply remain there until the Father, through the leading of the Holy Spirit, told him that the temptations were over and he could leave.”[1] Jesus was supposed to wait!

This point is so applicable to our lives! When you and I face a problem, we often rush to find a solution. Sometimes, there is a simple solution that God intends for us to grab hold of. But many times, there is not. And in fact, by trying to fix the problem through unbiblical means, we often make it worse! Nobody likes to hear this when he is suffering, but many times, God doesn’t want us to do anything drastic or different! He wants us to wait upon Him! Like Jesus, you must submit to God’s plan for your life, even when that includes suffering. Not only that, but you must agree to wait upon God rather than running after unbiblical solutions.

The Father was not about to let Jesus die in the wilderness, nor will He abandon you. So trust Him and wait. You say, “Pastor Kris, I can’t wait much longer! Everything is coming to a head; I’ve got to do something quick!” Christ could have used the same logic! “I’m starving! I’ve got to do something quick!” And had He done so, the entire plan of redemption would have been compromised! God’s ways are not our ways, but He is never late. So trust Him and wait!

By the way, did God the Father ever come through and provide food for His Son in this story? When did that occur? Verse 11 says that after the devil left Jesus, angels came and ministered to Him. That ministry no doubt included physical food. So in the end, we find that it was the Father’s will to feed Jesus! Christ just had to wait a little bit longer.

Now, how did Jesus respond to this first temptation (v. 4)? What does that mean?

In order to answer that question, we need to see where quote came from. Turn in your Bibles to Deuteronomy 8:1-3 (Deut 8:1-3).

Every time Christ quotes Scripture in this passage, He is quoting from Deuteronomy 6-8. There is significance to that. Deuteronomy is Moses’ sermon to the people of Israel on the heels of their wilderness wanderings, prior to entering the promised land. Jesus has just experienced His own wilderness wanderings. The people of Israel spent forty years in the wilderness; He spent forty days. Both of them were tempted with hunger. Israel responded wrongly to that hunger and failed. Jesus would not repeat that failure. So in the words of one commentator, by quoting Deuteronomy 8:4, “Jesus in effect tells [Satan], ‘I know what you’re doing. It worked with Israel, but it won’t work with me.”[2]

That said, what is the logic of Deuteronomy 8:3?

Notice that in Deuteronomy 8:3, the phrase, “Man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” is a lesson that God was trying to teach His people by creating a situation in which they could not feed themselves and then feeding them with manna instead (Deut 8:3).

God put Israel into this situation and then provided for them in order to teach them to trust Him and not food. God knew that if the people of Israel were put into a situation in which they could work for their food, and they were doing it, they would begin to trust in the food and in themselves, rather than in God! So He created a situation that made them weak in order to teach them, “You don’t need food; you need Me. And if you are truly depending on Me, then you will hang on My every word, because I am a God who speaks! But, if this is truly your heart condition, then you will also have everything, because I will provide for your needs!”

Again, the applications just flow! We hate weakness! We hate it, we hate it, we hate it! This goes back to what we said earlier about trying to fix our problems. We want to be strong and independent! The problem is, no matter how we might fool ourselves, we are never independent! We rely on God for our very breath! And as much as we insist on being independent, God insists on making us trust Him! Who do you think is going to win that battle of the wills?

Sometimes God sends hunger to teach us to trust Him for our food. God may take away your job in order to teach you to trust Him for another one. He may allow physical weakness into your life in order to teach you to trust Him for your health. He may allow conflict in your family in order to teach You to trust Him to work!

You say, “I do trust God.” What do you do with His Word? I am dumbfounded when people who claim to be Christians say, “I know that’s what the Bible says, but….” If you say that, then you do not trust God. Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” In other words, if you trust in God, you will trust in His word, and that means that you will obey it.

Satan was very cunning. He did not begin by tempting Christ to disobey any specific commands–just to act inappropriately. But Jesus would not fall for it. He refused to use His power in self-serving ways and insisted on trusting His Father instead.

So, the first temptation was “Stones into Bread.” The second temptation was “Jump off a Cliff.”

2.  “Jump off a Cliff” (vv. 5-7)

When we began this series, I mentioned the fact that it’s hard to appreciate just how this temptation appealed to Christ. After all, how many of you have been tempted to jump off a cliff? Probably not many. And yet, if we really think hard about this, I think it will make more sense and will be applicable to our lives.

First, v. 5 tells us that the devil “took Jesus up into” Jerusalem and “set Him on a pinnacle of the temple.”

Now, there is some debate as to what exactly Matthew and Luke mean when they say that the devil “took Jesus.” Did he actually physically transport Him? Can the devil really do that? Or is it a fair representation of the text to say that the devil “took him” there in some kind of highly realistic dream or vision? I tend to favor the vision interpretation, but I’m not going to open it up for questions because I don’t want to get stuck there! You can ask me about that later if you’d like.

But it says that the devil took Jesus to “the pinnacle of the temple.” Where was that? Well, it probably wasn’t a part of the temple building itself; it is more likely a reference to the portico surrounding the temple. Here is a picture that might help. Obviously, this is some kind of 3-D rendering; these buildings have all been torn down today; but this is what it probably looked like in Jesus’ day. And as best I understand, somewhere around this point is probably where Satan took Jesus.

The historian Josephus, who lived during the time of Christ, said the following about this spot: “The ravine itself was so deep that no one could bear to lean over and look down to the bottom from above; but above it stood also an immensely high portico, so that anyone who looked down from the top of its roof, with the two heights combined, would become dizzy as he looked into the depths, his eyesight being unable to reach the bottom of such an unfathomable drop.” (Ant. 15.412)[3]

So that is where Satan took Jesus. But now, what does He say (v. 6)?

Remember, Jesus had just finished quoting Scripture. Now it is as if Satan says to himself, “Two can play at that game!” And so he quotes the Bible, too. The devil quotes Psalm 91:11-12. Why don’t you go ahead and turn there? And for the sake of context, let’s read the entire chapter (Psalm 91:1-16).

Now, this chapter includes some incredible promises of protection, doesn’t it? In fact, it may not even be clear to us what some of these promises mean. But for now, let’s avoid that discussion and focus in on the way Satan uses these verses. He essentially says to Jesus, “Look! “If all of these promises apply to those who love God, surely they apply to His only begotten Son! Throw yourself down! There’s no way Your Father will allow you to die in this way!”

Now, was that true or not? If Jesus had thrown Himself down, would He have died? That’s sort of a nonsensical question, because if Jesus had thrown Himself down, that would be sin! And Jesus cannot sin! So He would never throw Himself down! And yet, assuming for the sake of argument that it wasn’t sin for Jesus to throw Himself down, we can be confident that God the Father would indeed have protected Him. After all, Jesus came to die on the cross! God is not going to let His Son die by falling off of a cliff!

So in what way did Satan misuse this Scripture? One commentator said it this way: “The devil’s mistake is to confuse the psalmist’s stumbling so as to fall with Jesus’ deliberately jumping off.”[4] Do you see the difference there? God has promised to protect us. Does that mean that we can go and do stupid stuff? You know, “It would be really fun to attach a lawn chair to a zillion helium balloons and float off into the atmosphere! God has promised to protect me, so what’s there to lose?” That is not biblical thinking.

Of course, then the question comes in, “Why would Jesus want to jump off a cliff?” Was He just your typical thrill-seeker, or was there something more to this temptation?” There is definitely more to it than that, but what?

This second temptation is a temptation for Jesus to manipulate God the Father into acting in a particular way in order for Christ to prove His Sonship to Himself, to Satan, and to those who were standing by.

There was apparently a legend circulating at that time that when the Messiah came, He would jump off the cliff of the temple and land like a feather on the rocks below, and thus everyone would know that he was indeed the Messiah. So that legend appears to be in the background here. This is a chance for Jesus to prove to everyone who would have been there on that busy temple mount that He was the Son of God. What’s more, it was a chance to prove it to Satan and perhaps even in some way, to prove it to Himself, as well–not that Jesus or Satan doubted who Jesus was, but that this was a chance to show Himself off.

Now, tell me, why would that have been sin?

  • We are not to try to manipulate God.

We exist for God; not the other way around. People are often tempted to find formulas in the Bible. “If you just do these three things, then God will give you what you want.” We treat God like a genie in a bottle or like a vending machine: you put in enough money, hit the right button, and it will always shoot out a Pepsi. But God is not a vending machine! That’s why when we pray, He instructs us to say, “Your will be done.” I’m not trying to pick on the prosperity gospel this morning, but that is another problem with the prosperity gospel–they act as if you can manipulate God through your faith! If you just have enough faith, He will do whatever you ask Him (or rather tell Him) to do! But that idea is not consistent with what the Bible teaches about God’s sovereignty!

Does God promise certain things in His word? Yes. Does He want us to claim those promises? Yes! Does He tell us to pray in faith and do our faith and prayers really matter? Of course they do! But at the same time, we must be very careful to submit to God’s plan.

For Jesus to jump off that cliff would have been for Him to try to “back God into a corner.” “Regardless of what Your plan was, You have to do this for me now because You have no other choice.” That is not the way that we are supposed to relate to God.

The second reason that it would have been sin for Jesus to jump off the cliff was that we are not to act sinfully or foolishly and presume upon God to catch us!

  • We are not to act sinfully or foolishly and then presume upon God to catch us!

This attitude is summed up by Paul’s question in Romans 6:1: “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” And how does Paul answer that question? (“Certainly not!”)

You see, what happens is that we get into our head that we really want to do something either sinful or foolish. And then we make excuses for ourselves by appealing to the steadfast love or promises of God. “God forgave the woman taken in adultery, so he will forgive me. Besides, I can’t lose my salvation!” “I know I shouldn’t date this person, but even if it turns out badly, all things work together for good to those who love God.” “I know I probably shouldn’t take this particular risk with money or with my vehicle, but God will protect our family!” “God, please help me to ace this test, even though I didn’t study.”

How does Jesus respond to that line of thinking? He says, “Don’t put God to the test!” Have any of your parents ever warned you, “Don’t test me!”? That’s kind of what Jesus is saying here! Yes, God has promised you those things, but you better not test Him–that won’t turn out well for you!”

One commentator puts it this way: “’Testing God’ is demanding or expecting him to do something special for you, something you haven’t earned and don’t per se deserve…. [It is] an attempt to get something out of him earlier or in greater quantity, or the like, than would otherwise happen. Testing God always involves some degree of doubt about whether or not one’s present circumstances are all that one deserves and whether or not God could or should have done a better job of providing one’s needs.”[5] Testing God is presuming on His grace.

Christ’s response to the devil is a quotation from Deuteronomy 6:16, which is, in turn, a reference to Exodus 17:2, 7. Why don’t you turn there (Ex 17:1-7)?

At this point in the story of Israel in wilderness, God has already given them miraculous water and food (aka manna). Now God leads them into another spot in which there is no water, so they demand water from Moses, and Moses accuses them of tempting (or testing) God.

Now, was the problem with Israel that they asked God for water? No! The problem was in their spirit!

We know all about this in our house right now. Because young kids are just naturally very dependent on their parents. But we are trying to teach our girls that there is a right and wrong way to ask for something or to communicate a need. You can say, “Mom, could I have a snack?” And then of course, if Mom says, “No,” the correct answer is, “Okay Mom!” and you move on. What you do not do is say, “Mother, I’m hungry!” in a tone of voice that is obviously complaining. You also do not say, “Mom, it’s way past breakfast time! Why haven’t you fed us yet?” Do you see the problem there? It’s accusatory!

Now, do my girls know that their mother will feed them? Yes. But that knowledge, instead of making them dependent, can actually make them selfish and demanding. “You have to give me this now because you are my mom and that’s your job!” Do you see how that happens? That is kind of what the children of Israel were doing in this passage. “We know the drill; we get thirsty, and You give us water. So God, we’re thirsty. Fix it!” And the response is, “Don’t test me.”

By jumping off that cliff, Jesus would be expressing doubt as to whether His present lowly circumstances were all that He deserved and He would have been pressuring God to reveal His true identity right now. But that was not God’s plan.

One more word on temptation in general before we move on to the third and final temptation in this passage. It might be hard for us to understand how these temptations were really tempting for Jesus. (And by saying that they were tempting to Him, I am not at all implying that He had a sin nature. I’m just saying that there was a natural pull that these temptations exerted upon his humanity.)

I was struggling with this idea specifically in regards to the question, “Why would Jesus want to jump off a cliff?” when I came across a very helpful note in a book on temptation by the Puritan John Owen. Owen says that there are certain temptations which, if they were presented to you now, you would say, “Am I a dog?” In other words, “I would never be tempted by that!” But Satan can help bring about a situation that will make that otherwise unpalatable temptation seem irresistible. In other words, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”

We can be confident that even if we find it difficult to identify with Jesus here, this temptation exerted a massive pull upon His humanity.

So temptation number two was “Jump off a Cliff.” Temptation number three was “Crown without Cross.”

4.  “Crown without Cross” (vv. 8-11).

This third temptation is much easier for us to identify with. We understand (or at least, I hope you do) that Jesus was promised an earthly kingdom. One day, He will reign (physically, bodily) on this earth. His throne will be in Jerusalem, and He will reign for a thousand years!

Jesus understood that He would reign because that was promised in the Old Testament. But He also understood that would die. Isaiah 53 said that the Messiah would be slaughtered like a Passover lamb. So Satan is in essence offering Jesus a shortcut. He is saying, “I can give you all that is your birthright without all the pain.”

Does Satan ever tempt us to avoid crosses? Sure he does! Think Abraham and Hagar! Think of those who are tempted to pursue sexual pleasure outside of marriage. Think of husbands and wives who are tempted to take the “easy way out” and pursue divorce rather than persevering in a difficult marriage! Think of the person who uses to illegal drugs in order to mask his problems rather than facing them. The list could go on and on!

But the fact is that according to Jesus, crosses will be a part of all of our lives! He says in Luke 9:23, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” To be a disciple of Jesus is to daily take up your cross!

Now, the world says, “Why are you carrying that? Toss it off to the side! There’s a much easier way!” But we say, “No! I cannot do that and still please my Lord!” It’s not that we are gluttons for punishment, but we refuse to disobey in order to avoid a cross

What cross is in your life right now and how are you tempted to cast it aside rather than carrying it in His strength? Jesus willingly took up His cross and refused Satan’s shortcuts.

By the way, was it worth it? Was it worth it for Jesus to take up His cross? You better believe it! Did what Satan offered him even come close to what God had offered? No!

Philippians 2:9-11 says, “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Satan could never come close to matching that offer! The best he could do was to promise a very cheap substitute a little bit early and without some of the pain–but Satan’s “gifts” always come with their own form of pain, which is much worse than the pain of following Jesus! The pain of disobedience to God is much worse than the pain of obedience to Him. Much better to suffer for doing right than for doing wrong!

And the same is true in our lives. James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.” If the gift is truly good, it can only come from God. Satan has nothing to offer but cheap substitutes laced with arsenic. For instance, every kind of sexual sin is a cheap substitute for the real joy of intimacy in marriage. You may be able to get sex quicker and easier somewhere else, but it is never better. God’s way is always best!

That is not to say that God has promised everyone a spouse, because He hasn’t! But even if His cross for you is singleness, it is better for you to take up that cross and allow Him to bless in His own time and manner than to disobey Him and go out of His will. God’s way is always best.

Now, we’ve gotten a little off topic, but it was a planned rabbit trail. And before we go on, I want to make one more observation. Have you noticed a pattern in these three temptations? What does each of these temptations have at its core? Each of the three temptations listed in this passage has at its core the temptation not to wait upon God. “Don’t wait upon God for food, don’t wait upon God to make known who You truly are, and don’t wait upon God to make You king.” Do you see that? What does this mean for us? It simply highlights the importance of waiting on God. You must learn to wait upon God.

Now, let’s get back to Satan’s offer to give Jesus the kingdoms of the world and their glory. Some people have asked, “Was Satan lying? Did he really have the authority to offer Jesus these things?” The answer is yes and no. Satan is not God. But the Bible does call him “the god of this world.” And there is a certain authority that he wields over the nations. So this offer was not totally out in left field.

Of course, there is a catch. What is the catch? (“if you fall down and worship me”) Satan is going for the jugular here! He is so confident that this temptation will be his “ace in the hole” that he tries to use it to bargain for Christ’s worship! Isn’t this what Satan wanted all along–to be worshipped as God? And here was his chance to seize upon that dream, and in doing so, to undo the plan of God, which was dependent on Christ’s obedience.

Of course, Jesus would have none of it. Not only does He resist the temptation, but at this point, He commands Satan to leave Him, and Satan has no choice but to obey.

It is instructive for us to remember that even though Christ has submitted Himself to these temptations, Satan has no authority over the Son of God! As soon as Jesus says the word, Satan must depart.

Conclusion

So how are we to apply this passage? Well, I’ve mentioned lots of applications already, but as we conclude our study on the temptation of Christ, I want to challenge you to worship Jesus. Worship Him for two reasons.

1.  Worship Christ because He Was Tempted (Fully Human).

We’ve talked about this before, but the fact that Jesus was tempted is almost beyond comprehension! How can God be tempted? He can’t according to James 1:13! So then how could Jesus be tempted? It was possible only because in the words of John 1, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

Jesus is a man just as much as He is God, and as a man, He was tempted. That is amazing in the true sense of the word, and it required a sacrifice on Christ’s part that is beyond words. Take some time this afternoon to thank Jesus for becoming a man in all that that entails to become your perfect high priest and lamb. Pray in Your heart and thank Him right now! Bear these truths in mind as we worship together this morning. Sing loudly (even if you don’t have a great voice)! Give your all to Him because He gave His all for you. Worship Jesus because He became a man.

2.  Worship Christ because He Overcame Temptation.

Can I ask you an odd, hypothetical question? What would have happened if Jesus had sinned? Could you still have been saved? (No!) Now, I call that an odd, hypothetical question because as I have said, it couldn’t have happened! But I ask it anyways in order to remind you that at least from a human standpoint, everything was at stake out there in the desert in this story described for us in Matthew 4:1-11! God’s entire plan of redemption in Christ was at stake! If Jesus had failed… we don’t even know how to fill in that blank. But of course, He didn’t fail. And for that, we worship Him.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul calls Jesus “the last Adam.” Where Adam and Eve failed, Jesus succeeded. Adam faced was tempted in a garden and he gave in. Jesus was tempted when He was all alone in a desert, and He resisted.

I preached a sermon on David and Goliath back in June of last year. In that sermon, I reminded you that David is a type of Christ. David fought Goliath as the representative for his people. According to the rules, if David wins, all of Israel wins. And if David loses, all of Israel loses. In the same way, Christ is our representative–our mighty champion– who defeated the devil for us! He defeated the devil by resisting temptation, and He defeated the devil by dying on the cross.

Of course, Satan’s ultimate defeated awaits its appointed time, but because of what the Lord Jesus has already done, the devil is a defeated foe!

Maybe you struggled with sin last week, and to you this morning, the devil seems undefeatable. You need to remember this truth: Satan has already been defeated! Jesus beat Him on your behalf! If you are a Christian, then you have been justified! That means that not only are you forgiven, but the righteousness of Christ was imputed to your account so that when God sees you, He sees Jesus!

Now, of course, that doesn’t mean, “Go ahead and sin.” We’ve already covered that. But you feel beat up inside, it is good to rest in your position in Christ.

Not only that, but because Jesus defeated Satan, you too can have the victory! As a new creation in Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit, you can say “no” to sin! That’s what Paul says in Romans 6! You are a no longer a slave! You must reckon yourself to be dead to sin but alive to God because that is your new condition! Worship Jesus because, by resisting temptation and dying on the cross, He defeated sin for you.

I’ve made many applications from this passage about what we should do in our own struggles with sin, but perhaps the most important application of this passage is to worship Jesus and rejoice in what He has already done for you. 

[1] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 536.

[2] Grant R. Osbone, Matthew, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), 131.

[3] Flavius Josephus in R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co., 2007).

[4] Craig Blomberg, Matthew, vol. 22, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 85.

[5] Douglas K. Stuart, Exodus, vol. 2, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2006), 389.

More in Temptation

February 9, 2020

The Temptation of Judah and Joseph, Part 1

January 26, 2020

The Temptation of Christ, Parts 3-4

January 19, 2020

The Temptation of Christ, Part 2