Ephesians 6:17; The Lord Jesus meets temptation.

Class Outline:

Title: Ephesians 6:17; The Lord Jesus meets temptation.


Tuesday June 28, 2022


Jesus mightily wielded the sword of the Spirit in the wilderness, MAT 4:1-11; LUK 4:1-13.


The Son of God, creator of the heavens and earth, used to the word of God to convincingly defeat His foe.


MAT 4:1-4

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." 4 But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'"


Christ tempted - He lacked nothing that was truly and essentially human. Plainly Jesus was a man. He lacked nothing that is truly and essentially human. He had a human soul to be tempted, as well as a human body to suffer hunger. In the temptation He comes down to the level of our poor, toiling, fighting humanity. His grandeur, the fact that He is the Creator of the heavens and earth, the source of all power and holiness, does not remove anything from the completeness of His humanity. And He sympathizes with our weaknesses, being tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin (HEB 4:15).


In His humanity He becomes our High Priest. As High Priest He faced everything that we ever could and He models for us the ways of the priesthood. We are warrior-priests living in the manner or way of Christ, and using His armor and sword to do it.


A spiritually mature believer is not to expect to be free from temptation.


Temptation is not a sign of sin. The tempted need not accuse themselves of guilt in their being liable to temptation. Sin only begins when we yield to temptation in our own wills.


Temptation lays hold of innocent desires. Christ was tempted by sinful appeals to what was innocent within Him. He was tempted to gratify natural desires - hunger, etc., but in a wrong way. He had not our indwelling sins to urge Him to evil, but He had greater powers to keep in control. He had by that time obviously known the incredible power in His grasp to perform mighty miracles. At His baptism, just days before this, His earthly ministry began, and in His divine power nothing upon earth would be hard for Him to do and anything could be easily accomplished or taken for Himself - if He had taken up the sword of His own Deity. But He would never use His Deity to overcome any difficulty, cut any corner, remove any temptation; instead He took up the sword of the Spirit. When it came to trials and daily living, He was all human. His temptations were inducements to abuse that power for selfish ends.


Every new acquisition is a new ground for temptation and fresh possibilities of evil.


Every increase in spiritual growth, every step of maturity carries with it temptation to use particular powers that do not fit the circumstance. Paul said that to the weak he was weak, that he might win some. He denied himself certain words, even certain scriptures, and limited himself in humility to what was necessary for the betterment of his fellow men. I have often seen, and regrettably seen it in myself, the fresh arrogance that comes with greater knowledge of the truth. I have seen people use the truth for the purpose of impressing people of their own elevation, which becomes an instant descent into the abyss of self-worship. I have seen believers use new found truth to judge others, verbally bully others. Jesus denied Himself the expression of His deity. God is entreating us to deny ourselves of the use of our pride, which in our fallen, sinful minds, feels to us in the moment, like deity.


There are therefore, dangers with spiritual growth and increase in wisdom and strength, but if the evil is resisted, there is the guarantee of greater good.


The temptation of hunger - the devil is most persevering; only persevering resistance can hope to overcome him.


MAT 4:2-3

And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread."


This was a serious encounter. One rebuff will not be sufficient to drive off the tempter. The devil is most persevering; only persevering resistance can hope to overcome him. The successive temptations were varied in form. The tempter is wily and subtle. If he does not succeed in one way he will try another. Each temptation has its own features; yet there is a common character running through them all. In every case Jesus was urged to use his miraculous powers and Messianic privileges for his own advantage. The great conflict raged round one central position - the life-work of Jesus as the Christ.


Should temptation be degraded to selfish ends or should it be carried on in self-sacrifice for its highest purposes?


This principle bears repeating so that we are sure to relate ourselves to the Lord’s temptation. Is this not a temptation for us? It most definitely is. Though we cannot turn stones into bread, we can try in our minds. We can either be self-serving or serving of God and others. That doesn’t mean that we never serve ourselves, but when the two come into conflict, we can so easily ignore our spiritual obligation, which presently calls for our self-denial, and in essence turn what should be stones (not time for feeding ourselves just now) into bread (feeding ourselves now). We in essence throw off our life-work in divine ministry and calling to satisfy ourselves.


God allows us to hunger and He allows alternatives to Him to be offered to us, things that market themselves as things that will satisfy our appetite. If we choose those things rather than righteousness, we are in essence turning stones into bread and then eating them. We need to let stones remain stones and feed on what God gives us. “Man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” You see, though we are not deity, and though we can’t perform the miracle, we can do what Satan asks the Lord to do here.


Some months after this, after His ministry had become popular in Galilee, Jesus told the people:


MAT 5:6

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”


We saw last time that the tempter waited for his opportunity. He waits for the favorable time to pounce on his prey.


“Would that Christians had Satan's patience in watching for souls!” [W. F. Adeney]


The tempter chose a weak moment. He will patiently wait until we are weak, and for all of us, that moment, perhaps only a few minutes or hours, will come soon enough. God has made us sensitive to our feelings, especially when contentment turns to angst because temptation is pressing in upon our souls. We need to remember when that pressure comes that it is time to take the sword of the Spirit and fight the good fight to stand firm against the schemes of the devil, and do it long enough, enduring until the temptation (or the tempter, if you prefer) flees from you.


The tempter chose a weak moment.


Satan waited and watched. You and I would have been at this place of weakness much sooner. Strong hunger begins in a human after a day. The desire for food becomes overwhelming, blocking out all other desires, after several days. Satan watched the Lord, so strong spiritually, that after a week or two or three, he was not satisfied that Jesus was weak enough mentally for victory to be in the tempter’s favor. The devil waited until Jesus was struggling.


Physical weakness may indicate the moment of approaching temptation; much more probably it will come in times of spiritual weakness.


The tempter worked on a strong natural appetite. Hunger (lust) for mental and physical satisfaction (Ecc 2).


Hunger is a fundamental appetite in all living animals, but in humanity, we hunger for far more things than food. When it is keenly excited it will turn the gentlest beings into wild beasts. Beware of a hungry man! Satan knows this well about us. He has also watching us for all our spiritual lives (he likely has a file on every human being - if Google can do it …). The tech oligarchs in Silicon Valley know all about your desires, how much more the tireless, sophisticated, evil genius organization of the devil? The devil has a plan to wrap you up in your own desires. And remember, he will take what he can get. If he can’t get you ultimately to abandon your spiritual life completely, he will settle for making it weak. Do you more often than not give it to personal desire when God’s many predetermined works are calling for your efforts?


The tempter suggested an easy satisfaction that was within grasp.


The famished man is haunted by tantalizing visions of food. Even when we cannot actually fulfill our lust, we may fill our minds with the hope and vision of satiating it. Jesus told us that if we lusted in our hearts, then we were guilty of doing what we dreamed of doing. Many of the stones in the wilderness even look like bread, being pictures that could tantalize Jesus’ desire. In Primo Levi’s book about his time in a Nazi concentration camp, he recounts how his group was on a work detail somewhere outside the camp, and a large bulldozer of the old type that has a bucket like a mouth, was opening, eating up a mouthful of earth as if to swallow it, lifting it up, moving, dumping, open mouthed again, and repeat. All the while he began to notice that every man in his prisoner group instinctively opened and closed their mouths in time with the dozer, swallowing imaginary dirt each time. Levi said that they became jealous of the bulldozer, for their own hunger was so great.


Nothing is more natural than that the stones of the wilderness should suggest the idea of the bread they resembled in form and color. There are all kinds of things; sights, sounds, smells that will remind or tantalize our lusts, and the devil is an expert at human nature and anatomy. He will use all tools at his disposal to dissolve our spiritual lives.


But, temptation will work in the opposite of the devil’s desire if we resist - we will become stronger and more aware of the power of the spiritual life.


Remember 1CO 10:13. God will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to bear. God allows it, and since everything He does is for us and not against us, He is helping us to discover something on our own that we would never see without these fiery ordeals - eternal life coursing through our spiritual veins; power, love, joy, peace, fulfillment, purpose, strength, fruitfulness - all in all, God in us accomplishing His good pleasure.


MAT 4:4

But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'"


How Jesus met the temptation.


By an appeal to Scripture. In dark moments we cannot trust our own thoughts, for temptation is sophisticated.


Then, like Christ, we may find the advantage of a familiar knowledge of the Bible. If he needed this extraneous aid - and He the Sinless! - much more do we whose thoughts are prone to be dark and foolish.


Under pressure we are very prone to the usurpation of emotions. We may feel a strong tug to blame someone else for the problem, when it doesn’t matter at all who is involved since we do not struggle against flesh and blood. Other over-rulers of divine thought are self-pity; self-absorption; depression; sublimation with drugs or alcohol or some other stimulant you prefer; denial. I’m sure that we could think up many others. While we push all of these out we lash on to the written word, particularly from the Scripture, and we hold on to it, speak it, trust it, and wait on God to deliver. We are under God’s will when we do this, and so it is a guarantee that the Holy Spirit will fill and empower us, so we have to remember that as well, and trust in Him without fear.


[How did Jesus meet the temptation?]

By imparting a new current of thought - putting aside the desire, He fed on the Word of God that particularly fed His issue.


Here was the use of the recollection of Scripture. So long as His mind rested on His physical condition, He could not but continue to focus on the terrible force of the temptation. By a great effort of will He turned the current of His thinking into another channel and remained there. It is a great effort of our own will to turn our eyes away from the craving and to intensely gaze at the proper scripture that make fast work of drawing all that false power from the temptation.


“He became hungry,” means that it came to be forefront on His mind. He grabbed hold of the proper scripture that spoke to His specific issue and the temptation was squashed by this very scripture. He didn’t think of the sovereignty of God or the moral aspect of the law, but that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word from the mouth of God.”


How did He know which scripture to use? He had prepared Himself for this over years and years of learning the written word of God, and that enabled the proper scripture to flash into His mind. The Holy Spirit cannot bring to your remembrance something that is not in there. The whole realm of truth must be learned many times and known.


EPH 1:8-9

In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will