Andrew Fountain - Luke: Temptation - Luke 4

The story

  • Jesus is baptized by John
  • voice of the Father “You are my beloved Son—with you I am well pleased.”
    • (This is going to be a key event because it is Jesus’ relationship with his Father that is going to be Satan’s point of attack.)
  • the Spirit comes... and expels him into the wilderness
    • Jesus had no conflict till the Spirit came
    • The early church had no conflict till Pentecost
    • Careful when you pray for the Spirit
      • He will turn you into a soldier for the king!
  • Read Luke 4:1-3

1. This was not just another man being tempted

  • Each time Jesus was tempted, he responded by quoting from Deuteronomy
    • Not just Deuteronomy, but the part of the story where Israel are being tested by God
      • 8:3 : Given manna and grumbled
      • 6:13 : Told not to worship idols, but went after the golden calf
      • 6:16 : They kept complaining about having nothing to drink and got Moses so angry he hit the rock
    • Israel failed, but Jesus passed the test so that it is possible for us to do so
    • In a moment we will see there is also a strong parallel with Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden
    • His victory broke Satan’s power (Strong man bound) —Matthew 12:28-29
      1. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
      2. Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.
    • Jesus broke the power of Satan
      • (ultimately broken, of course, at the cross. But even now something radical had happened.)
      • We don’t have to face temptation alone
      • Jesus is with us and he can laugh at Satan as one who is defeated

2. The three aspects of Temptation

  • 1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.
  • Genesis 3:6 has the same three kinds.
    • So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
  • I find this very helpful: “know your enemy”
    • When I am tempted, it is a big help to know my own weakness and Satan’s plan of attack

A. The Desires of the Flesh

  • All our physical needs and wants
  • Satan suggested that Jesus (like Adam) had a legitimate complaint against God
    • Jesus was hungry and God hadn’t provided bread for him—why shouldn’t he provide for himself?
    • Have you ever felt like that?
    • If God really cared about me, then he would have provided for me
      • now I have to take matters into my own hands
      • (Story of pastor and family in a small town more than 100 years ago. Christmas eve, pastor’s wife angry with God.)
    • He knows I am lonely and need someone
      • If he doesn’t provide, then I am going to do it my way
  • This doesn’t mean we have to be passive: obviously we are supposed to work if we can to meet our needs
    • the point is that we live within God’s will for us
  • We are specially vulnerable to the “flesh” when we are tired or weak
    • comfort eating
    • watching something we shouldn’t
    • drinking too much
    • often it is not things bad in and of themselves (and that is part of Satan’s ploy)
  • The flesh is illogical—like comfort eating when we know we will feel bad afterwards
    • Satan has a “one-two punch”
    • The very moment he has succeeded in tempting us, he switches to being the accuser and starts to tell us what a useless loser we are for falling into the sin.


  • Usually there is a deeper problem, an emptiness within, that we are trying to fill with the flesh
  • Often a feeling of being unloved and worthless
  • The only real answer is to know how much God loves us
    • We need him to speak these words deep into our hearts through the Spirit
  • This is exactly what Jesus received: God spoke the words of love into him before he began this temptation
    • We need to ask for the same thing—an impartation of a tangible feeling of God’s love for us

B. The Desires of the Eyes

  • Culture, art, science, houses, cars, home electronics, literature, drama, education, music, technology & the great achievments of mankind
    • You may be surprised for me to put some of these in the category of temptation
    • Some of the people who live near me are very affluent and cultured
    • Not tempted so much by the flesh, but by indulgence in culture: art, theatre, music, beautiful homes
      • again, not wrong in and of themselves
      • but ultimately it is idolatry (as it would have been for Jesus)
      • Jesus was shown the glory of all the nations, and there is glory, but it is a glory that is fading away
        • to become taken up with this man-made glory (rather than God) is idolatry
  • If the temptation of the flesh would be to watch inappropriate content on TV
    • this would be to watch documentaries and drama at times when Jesus is calling us to do something else
      • not wrong things, but being taken up with them
  • For me it might be wanting a new camera or guitar or computer
    • At one time I was thinking of getting a new camera
    • I looked at adverts, read reviews, and it was taking up more and more of my thinking
      • I was trying to weigh up whether I could justify spending the money on the camera
      • But then I realized that the real problem was the time and energy I was putting into thinking about it.
        • It was just taking up too much mind-share.


  • Jesus says in Matthew 6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.”
    • Realize all these things will turn to dust one day
    • Solomon was a prime example of this temptation—he explored every aspect of art, culture and technology available to him
      • In the end he said it was all emptiness
  • But the main solution is to see true beauty in Jesus
    • to catch a sight of the true glory and then the “glory of the nations of the world” will seem as nothing.
    • Once again, our relationship with Jesus is the answer to this temptation
      • He is simply better

C. The Pride of Life

  • To be worth something—to be recognized
    • This is to a large extent relational
    • it is what is behind exaggeration...
    • gossip (“I am someone who knows lots of things about people—you will find me interesting to talk to!”)
    • telling stories that set you in a good light
      • (e.g. “Yesterday I was chatting with the Queen, and she said ‘what a great guy you are Andrew’”)
    • Desire for power, fame & recognition
  • Jesus was tempted to get instant fame as hundreds of angels came and caught him as he jumped off the temple
  • Fame is so addictive
    • The watching crowds would instantly honour him and he would be crowned king by the cheering masses
    • (story of when I played lead guitar in NTR)
    • that kind of adulation is incredibly addictive
    • e.g. Britney Spears


  • God’s “Well done”
    • you can’t fake it with him
    • It would be silly to try and exaggerate!
    • He is not impressed with who you know or what you know!
    • But with him you are significant, precious and deeply loved!
  • The only real answer to this temptation is to hear God’s Spirit speaking deeply into you:
    • You are my son, you are my daughter, I have chosen you and you are precious and important to me.
    • That is what Jesus heard his own Father say, and what we need to hear!


  • I want to end by looking at a few other verses:
    • The purpose of trials: to teach us dependence on and obedience to God
      • Deut 8:3 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.
    • Our wilderness experience
      • what it is...
      • This can be very hard
      • But we don’t go through it alone—even Jesus didn’t—he had the words of his Father echoing in his ears.

James 1:2-4 & 12

  • My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials,
    because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
    And let endurance have its perfect effect,
    so that you will be perfect and complete,

  • Happy is the one who endures testing,
    because when he has proven to be genuine,
    he will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love him.
    • There is actually joy in this at the end—this is how we grow

1 Corinthians 10:13

  • No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it.
    • Sometimes sin can seem to trap us.
    • I was once talking to someone who had sinned and then enmeshed themselves in lies
    • To tell the truth might bring very destructive consequences
    • But the only way of escape was to do what was right and trust God with the consequences

Jesus, the great high priest: Hebrews 4:14-16

  • Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,
    Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.

  • For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses,
    but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin.

  • Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.
  • A High Priest is there to provide forgiveness for sin.
    • Jesus is ready to forgive you!
    • He is sympathetic and has endured every kind of temptation
    • He knows exactly what it is like!
  • When a little child trips over and falls headfirst in the mud
    • the loving parent doesn’t shout at it, but picks it up and lovingly washes it clean
  • Jesus taught us to forgive 70 x 7. Do you not think he will forgive you?
  • So he helps us in both ways
    • he gives us power to have victory in temptation
    • and when we fail, as we often will, he is there to forgive us

Pray that through the Spirit...

  • we will have an impartation of the love of the Father into our hearts
  • we will have a sight of the beauty of Jesus, so much better than all the glory of this world
  • and we will really know how important we are to God, how special and significant every one of us is to him

Andrew Fountain (2007-03-04)