Full sermon notes - Temptations
The story so far…
- 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!
- Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
- where for forty days he endured temptations from the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were completed, he was famished.
- The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”
- Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man does not live by bread alone.’”
- Then the devil led him up to a high place and showed him in a flash all the kingdoms of the world.
- And he said to him, “To you I will grant this whole realm—and it’s glory, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I wish.
- So then, if you will worship me, all this will be yours.”
- Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You are to worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’”
- Then the devil brought him to Jerusalem, had him stand on the highest point of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here,
- for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’
- and ‘with their hands they will lift you up, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
- Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You are not to put the Lord your God to the test.’”
- So when the devil had completed every temptation, he departed from him until a more opportune time.
1. This was not just another man being tempted
- Each time Jesus was tempted, he responded by quoting from Deuteronomy: precisely from the part of the story where Israel are being tested by God: Deut 8:
- And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.
- 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.
- When God tested Israel with hunger,
- instead of trusting that the God who had brought them supernaturally out of Egypt would not let them die because of nothing to eat
- They complained and grumbled
- God did a re-run of this test with Jesus, and he passed!
2nd & 3rd temptation, Deuteronomy 6
- then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
- It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear.
- You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you—
- for the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.
- You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.
- Two other times that Israel failed when they were tested
- They made a golden calf and worshipped it
- At a place called Massah they tried to pick a fight with God over whether he would provide water for them to drink
- Moses so angry he hit the rock
- So, 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
The Strong man bound
- His victory broke Satan’s power (Strong man bound) —Matthew 12:28-29
- But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
- 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
- For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.
- Genesis 3 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.)
Experience of a Minister’s Wife on the Frontier
I remember a day during one winter that stands out like a boulder in my life. The weather was unusually cold, our salary had not been regularly paid, and it did not meet on needs when it was. My husband was away traveling from one district to another much of the time. Our boys were well, but my little Ruth was ailing, and at best none of us were decently clothed. I patched and repatched, with spirits sinking to their lowest ebb. The water gave out in the well, and the wind blew through the cracks in the floor.
The people in the parish were kind, and generous, too, but the settlement was new, and each family was struggling for itself. Little by little, at the time I needed it most, my faith began to waver. Early in life I was taught to take God at His word, and I thought my lesson was well learned. I had lived upon the promises in dark times, until I knew, as David did, “who was my Fortress and Deliverer.” Now a daily prayer for forgiveness was all that I could offer. My husband’s overcoat was hardly thick enough for October, and he was often obliged to ride miles to attend some meeting or funeral. Many times our breakfast was Indian cake, and a cup of tea without sugar. Christmas was coming; the children always expected their presents. I remember the ice was thick and smooth, and the boys were each craving a pair of skates. Ruth, in some unaccountable way, had taken a fancy that the dolls I had made were no longer suitable; she wanted -a nice large one, and insisted in praying for it. I knew it was impossible; but, oh! How I wanted to give each child its present. It seemed as if God had deserted us, but I did not tell my husband all this. He worked so earnestly and heartily, I supposed him to be as hopeful as ever. I kept the sitting-room cheerful with an open fire, and tried to serve our scanty meals as invitingly as I could.
The morning before Christmas, James was called to see a sick man. I put up a piece of bread for his lunch — it was the best I could do — wrapped my plaid shawl around his neck, and then tried to whisper a promise, as I often had, but the words died away upon my lips. I let him go without it. That was a dark, hopeless day. I coaxed the children to bed early, for I could not bear their talk. When Ruth went, I listened to her prayer; she asked for the last time most explicitly for her doll, and for skates for her brothers. Her bright face looked so lovely when she whispered tome: “You know I think they’ll be here early tomorrow morning, mamma,” that I thought I could move heaven and earth to save her from disappointment. I sat down alone, and gave way to the most bitter tears.
Before long James returned, chilled and exhausted. He drew off his boots; the thin stockings slipped off with them, and his feet were red with cold. “I wouldn’t treat a dog that way; let alone a faithful servant,” I said. Then, as I glanced up and saw the hard lines in his face and the look of despair, it flashed across me, James had let go, too. I brought him a cup of tea, feeling sick and dizzy at the very thought. He took my hand, and we sat for an hour without a word. I wanted to die and meet God, and tell Him his promise wasn’t true; my soul was so full of rebellious despair.
There came a sound of bells, a quick stop, and a loud knock at the door. James sprang up to open it. There stood Deacon White. “A box came for you by express just before dark. I brought it around as soon as I could get away. Reckoned it might be for Christmas; at any rate, they shall have it tonight. Here is a turkey my wife asked me to fetch along, and these other things I believe belong to you. There was a basket of potatoes and a bag of flour. Talking all the time, he hurried in the box, and then with a hearty good-night rode away. Still, without speaking, James found a chisel and opened the box. He drew out first a thick red blanket, and we saw that beneath was full of clothing. It seemed at that moment as if Christ fastened upon me a look of reproach. James sat down and covered his face with his hands. “I can’t touch them,” he exclaimed; “I haven’t been true, just when God was trying me to see if I could hold out. Do you think I could not see how you were suffering? And I had no word of comfort to offer. I know now how to preach the awfulness of turning away from God.” “James,” I said, clinging to him, “don’t take it to heart like this; I am to blame, I ought to have helped you. We will ask Him together to forgive us.” “Wait a moment dear, I cannot talk now;” then he went into another room. I knelt down, and my heart broke; in an instant all the dark-ness, all the stubbornness rolled away. Jesus came again and stood before me, but now with the loving word: “Daughter!” Sweet promises of tenderness and joy flooded my soul. I was so lost in praise and gratitude that I forgot everything else. I don’t know how long it was before James came back, but I knew he too had found peace. “Now, my dear wife,” said he, “let us thank God together;” and then he poured out words of praise; Bible words, for nothing else could express our thanksgiving. It was eleven o’clock, the fire was low, and there was the great box, and nothing touched but the warm blanket we needed. We piled on some fresh logs, lighted two candles, and began to examine our treasures. We drew out an overcoat; I made James try it on; just the right size, and I danced around him; for all my light heartedness had returned. Then there was a cloak, and he insisted in seeing me in it. My spirits always infected him, and we both laughed like foolish children. There was a warm suit of clothes also, and three pair of woolen hose. There was a dress for me, and yards of flannel, a pair of arctic overshoes for each of us, and in mine was a slip of paper. I have it now, and mean to hand it down to my children. It was Jacob’s blessing to Asher: “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass, and as thy days so shall thy strength be.” In the gloves, evidently for James, the same dear hand had written: “I, the Lord thy God, will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee: Fear not, I will help thee.” It was a wonderful box, and packed with thoughtful care. There was a suit of clothes for each of the boys, and a little red gown for Ruth. There were mittens, scarfs, and hoods; down in the center, a box; we opened it, and there was a great wax doll.
I burst into tears again; James wept with me for joy. It was too much; and then we both exclaimed again, for close behind it came two pair of skates. There were books for us to read; some of them I had wished to see; stories for the children to read, aprons and underclothing, knots of ribbon, a gay little tidy; a lovely photograph, needles, buttons, and thread; actually a muff, and an envelope containing a ten-dollar gold piece. At last we cried over everything we took up. It was past midnight, and we were faint and exhausted even with happiness. I made a cup of tea, cut a fresh loaf of bread, and James boiled some eggs. We drew up the table before the fire; how we enjoyed our supper! And then we sat talking over our life, and how sure a help God always proved. You should have seen the children the next morning; the boys raised a shout at the sight of their skates. Ruth caught up her doll, and hugged it tightly without a word; then she went into her room and knelt by her bed. When she came back she whispered to me: “I knew it would be here, mamma, but I wanted to thank God just the same, you know.” “Look here, wife, see the difference.” We went to the window, and there were the boys out of the house already, and skating on the crust with all their might. My husband and I both tried to return thanks to the church in the East that sent us the box, and have tried to return thanks unto God every day since.
Hard times have come again and again, but we have trusted in Him; dreading nothing so much as a doubt of His protecting care. Over and over again we have proved that, “They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.”
- 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, gardens
- cars, home electronics
- Films, literature, drama, music
- education, 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.
- “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
C. The Pride of Life
- To be worth something—to be recognized
- This is to a large extent relational: wanting to be thought highly of
- 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
- 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!
Conclusion —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
- 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
Updated on 2011-07-11 by Andrew Fountain