Written by: Bill Elliff
When Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil he was directly confronted with 3 big temptations. We have to believe that these 3 illustrate the ultimate 3 that we face and that Christ’s response gives us the ultimate response to temptation—the path to overcome the devil’s direct assault.
You will discover through the scripture that these 3 are always the big 3 temptations. John calls them “The lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the boastful pride of life.” (1 John 2:16). When Jesus was outlining what men must surrender to follow Him, these 3 issues are what He addresses (Luke 14:25-35).
This incredible exchange is recorded in Matthew 4 so that we would be armed and equipped for battle. Christ is modeling (as He always did) for us the way a victorious, God-connected man is to live. What is at the heart of these 3 temptations we constantly face and how do we withstand them?
To seek satisfaction in something other than God’s Word
Our physical flesh is weak. If not brought under the dominion of what God says, we will live to seek physical comfort and pleasure above all else and we’ll seek it through all the world offers.
Man’s “bread” (that which is designed to genuinely satisfy our hunger and give us life) is to be found first and foremost in God and His Word. Any temptation to find our ultimate satisfaction anywhere else—particularly in something we have created on our own—is a temptation that is deadly.
The TEMPTATION: To seek your satisfaction in the realm of the physical
The RESPONSE: Refuse any substitute offer and seek your satisfaction in the realm of the spiritual, live off what God says (and then all that you need will be given to you)
The QUESTION: Am I seeking comfort and satisfaction any place else except in God and what He is saying to me?
To seek approval somewhere other than God and His path
God’s place for approval for Jesus was in God Himself, not the crowds. And God’s path for Jesus’ ministry was suffering and death. Satan’s substitute plan was a quick, miraculous show, not the 3 year, deliberate plan of suffering and death that would win him the applause of the crowd. A shortcut to ministry, not a life of ministry and a substitute approval, not ultimate approval.
The lure here is not physical satisfaction, but human approval and popularity. The desire to be known and loved and accepted by others, and using quick showy means to accomplish this is particularly alluring to us. To live for me, whatever means I have to use vs. choosing the path God has for me and being humbly willing to live only for God’s approval.
The TEMPTATION: To seek man’s approval through quick, human means
The RESPONSE: Realize you don’t need man’s approval and live for God’s approval alone through the path He has designed for you (which is not the world’s path).
The QUESTION: Is my ultimate desire to win the approval of men or to serve men and be approved only by God? Am I choosing any path to ministry other than God’s path of humble surrender and sacrificial service?
To worship this world’s possessions other than God Himself
Satan wants us to worship Him. He holds up the worlds’ trinkets (the kingdom of the world and “their glory”) to allure us. If we want these momentary, earthly things we will find ourselves worshiping him, for these are temporarily in his domain.
Any idol that threatens our worship of God alone must be ruthlessly resisted and removed. “You shall have no other gods beside Me” is God’s first commandment of the ten. The greatest command, Jesus would later say, is to “love the Lord Thy God with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, and all your strength.” Complete, undivided worship.
The TEMPTATION: To worship the things of this world, which is to worship Satan himself
The RESPONSE: Recognize and turn from any worldly idol (particularly possessions) and worship God alone.
The QUESTION: Am I worshiping anything other than God Himself? Do I bow daily before the God of mammon or do I seek first and only God and His kingdom? (Because I cannot do both). Do I love Him above all this world offers?
(copyright Bill Elliff, All Rights Reserved)
2ProphetU is an online magazine/website, started by Warren Wiersbe and Michael Catt, to build up the church, seek revival, and encourage pastors.