The Devil (didn’t) make me do it – Matthew 4:1-11 – 03/29/2016
Matthew 4:1 (ESV) 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.’” 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,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” 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.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
This is a series in the Gospel of Matthew which looks to visit the text from the Gospel of Matthew on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Matthew, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.
Let’s start our bible study in verse one of chapter four.
V1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
We go straight from God being very pleased at Jesus and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove to Jesus being tempted by the very adversary of God. (The Devil) I entitled this the way I did to try and poke fun at the idea that is somewhat popular that when we sin we say “The Devil made me do it” and often times we give the Devil way to much credit, I would put it no higher than our sinful nature made us do it.
Jesus volunteered for this mission so he knew at some point he was going to have to face the rebellious one and when he did it would have to be mano a mano, one on one. Jesus went from those soothing cool waters in the Jordan to the wasteland of the Middle Eastern desert which is described as wilderness, so no-one goes there and it is not regularly tended or farmed.
He goes from being blessed by the Father to being attacked by the tempter and I love this passage of scripture as Jesus did not have to do this because he was sinless, however he chose this to identify with the temptations that man would go through. There is some discussion among bible skeptics whether this verse is contradictory to a verse in James so let’s look at that…
James 1:12 (ESV) Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
The verse that is often questioned is verse 13, but even looking at it in context with the rest of the verses it is quite easy to see what James is referring to. Jesus was not being tempted by God, but the Holy Spirit was leading to a place that temptation could occur. Paul states that Jesus overcame these temptations to identify with man. Let’s look at two verses…
Hebrews 2:17 (ESV) Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Hebrews 4:14 (ESV) Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
How awesome is that! We have a great high priest that has suffered when tempted (or tested) directly from the Devil, the dark side brought out their biggest guns against him but yet Jesus emerged victorious. How much more does that strengthen your faith that greater is he that is in you than the one who tempts you?
V2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
Talk about testing someone to their limits? How would you be after forty days and forty nights with no-one but the devil for company? He was beyond simple hunger pains and was at the end of what a human body could handle. If the devil was ever going to get him then it would be now.
The idea of a forty day fast is not an unusual one in the Bible. Both Moses and Isaiah fasted in the Old Testament…
Exodus 34:27 (ESV) And the LORD said to Moses, “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28 So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments
1st Kings 19:4 (ESV) But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” 5 And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” 6 And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. 7 And the angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” 8 And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.
This was not done for personal pride or just to show that the person going through the fast could in fact do that, it was done as a period of drawing closer to God the Father and learning dependence on him. Much like the modern day festival of “Lent” was supposed to be like but if the heart is not correct then it can just be a ritual. (Learn more about that in this blog article) Jesus overcame everything that was put in front of him because he WAS God. All others who did this had to rely on or come closer to God.
V3 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.’”
Thus comes the first temptation, the Devil knew his body was weak so he attempted to show him what the flesh cried out for and that is often times how the Devil will try to tempt us. Some translations have the words “When the tempter came” and it is important to remember it is not a case of if the tempter will come but when. He desires nothing more than to seek and destroy and cause doubt in the heart of even the strongest believer. He desires to tear ministries down by using people’s weak spots and will do what it takes to push people’s hot buttons to entice them into sin.
We have to be careful most often when we have our “mountaintop experiences” because we can be sure that the Devil is trying his upmost to tunnel under us and bring us down. Personally, I have had some of my hardest times as a Christian just after some of my greatest spiritual victories and I caution ALL believers to be watchful during those times that we do not believe the hype about ourselves as humility is often a lesson learned after the fact!
Jesus answers him, not just simply palms him off or slightly disagrees but actually answers himself with the following scripture…
Deuteromony 8:3 (ESV) And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
Jesus used the word of God correctly and in context to do battle with the Devil. The Devil might have known the word but Jesus was the correct application of the Word. He was “the Word became flesh” (John 1:1) and this was not going to work with Jesus as he was sinless and could resist the devil and everything he was about to offer and as we see in the next few verses that the Devil kept upping the ante to see if the Holy One could be corrupted…
V5 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,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Make no mistake about it, the Devil can quote scripture until the cows come home and he can manipulate and twist the very holy words of God to suit his own ends. This time he buffeted Jesus to see if “the pride of life” was in him at all.
He suggested that Jesus throw himself off the tallest building in the region and speculated that God would save Jesus if he was to do such a public show of God’s power. He stated that in scripture “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” To suit his own ends he misquotes Psalm 91 which reads…
Psalms 91:9 (ESV) Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—the Most High, who is my refuge — 10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. 12 On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
There is no mention of the end of the sentence in verse 11 and as you can read the whole verse is said in a manner to prove a point it was never intended to. That is often the case when scripture is used to stretch a point. Jesus responds with …
Deuteronomy 6:16 (ESV) “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.
Jesus correctly applies this scripture against Him. Satan continues one last time…
V8 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.’”
He decides to test the loyalty of Jesus to the Father by trying to go for the tri-unity of God, this is his big pitch and he knows that if this is successful this is a game changer. He waits until the last test and offers his all that he can for the patronage and worship of Jesus. I am sure he understands why Jesus is there and it shows something of the arrogance and pride of Satan that he thinks that this will be successful.
You will notice that Jesus does not dispute ownership of all the kingdoms of the world. Satan proposed a swap, Jesus worship for the world to be returned because in the psyche of Satan he desires to be worshipped as God is. And if the Son of God, who is God himself was to worship him…That would be off the charts for him! Of course Jesus is the Son of God and part of the tri-une God and he sends him away stating the basic tenants of the Ten Commandments.
Exodus 20:1 (ESV) And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Jesus was not going to miss the cross to bow down to Satan, yes he would have redeemed the world but he stuck to God the Fathers plan for his mission and he handled temptation and gave us a great example how to deal with temptation because we see in the last verse of the passage that we are studying how Satan reacted after being denied by Jesus and using all that he had against him.
For me the real sobering thought was the thought about how my actions mirrored either Jesus and the devil and I think of ways that the devil could have “knobbled me” and it is certainly points that require prayer. I pray that it does likewise for you dear reader.
V11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
Jesus was more than up to the task, we only read of those three temptations but Jesus stayed pure and fulfilled those forty days and forty nights being attacked by the devil Jesus fulfilled what is written in the book of James when it is written…
James 4:7 (ESV) Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
And as true as the word of God is, that is what happened, Jesus knew that the devil would use manipulation, lies and deception to try and turn him from God’s plan for his life and as his followers we can expect nothing less from the “father of lies” and I know that the further I stick my neck out for God the larger the target on my back becomes. We should use the same weapons that Jesus used against Him, God’s word rightly divided. That is the only truth that can stand against his lies.
God sends the angels promised in Psalm 91 but only after Jesus had defeated the devil. Angels came and supplied the needs that Jesus required; they are there as messengers as opposed to any other application of ministered. Jesus dealt with the devil with no outside help and it makes me think of the final battle in Revelation where we will watch Jesus take on all comers and defeat them all. What a day that will be!
Lord willing, in our next article in Matthew we will start in verses twelve through seventeen of chapter four studying the beginning of the adult ministry of Jesus. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.
God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.