BIBLICAL INSIGHTS in 500 words
The Devilish Dynamics of Temptation
Matthew 3:17, 4:1-11
The work of defeating sin and Satan entered a new phase when Jesus announced his mission and received the public calling and validation of the Father, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). The next sentence in the Gospel of Matthew reads, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1). And Satan’s temptation called Christ’s identity into question, “If you are the son of God…” (Matthew 4:3). Here we see in the example of Jesus the dynamics of temptation.
1-Triumph and temptation are often found in close proximity. The voice of heaven, “my son whom I love” is often followed by the voice of Satan, “If you are the son…” The test comes in both subtle and bold ways, “who do you think you are?” More precisely, the trial arrives with the question, “whose do you think you are?” Are you a child of sin or a child of God? Achievements and adoration are often followed by tempting and testing.
2-The Spirit and the devil are both involved in temptation. The temptations were a time of testing and learning for Jesus. “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” (Hebrews 5:8-9). The moment God uses to test and teach us can be the moment the devil tempts.
3-The devil’s core temptation is to distract us from our calling and identity in God. “If you are…” was Satan’s ploy. We hear the devil’s words in the mouths of the his tormentors as Jesus hung on the cross: “Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, ‘You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!’” (Matthew 27:39-40).
The devil attacks the identity of Christ. “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread” (Matthew 4:3). Surely, the Father would not want his Son to go hungry. Again, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down” (Matthew 4:6). Surely, Jesus would want people to know he is the Son of God. Then, dropping the logic, the enemy goes for the jugular, “All this I will give you if you bow down and worship me” (Matthew 4:9). The devil tempts: Turn your back on the heavenly Father; worship me, and you will become all you were meant to be.
Jesus met and defeated the temptations of Satan. He is our haven when we face the challenges, tests, and temptations that come our way. We find in him our help in times of trouble: Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted (Hebrews 2:18)