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Sermon 5
Matthew 4:1-11

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Sermon 5: Matthew 4:1-11
Satan tempts Jesus in the Wilderness
November 26, 2023


Hi, my name is Philip, a servant of God from Beggars Breaking Bread, and I will be reading, teaching and preaching from Matthew 4:1-11.


Scripture (Matthew 4:1-11, NIV)
Then Jesus was led out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted there by the Devil. For forty days and forty nights he ate nothing and became very hungry. Then the Devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, change these stones into loaves of bread.” But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People need more than bread for their life; they must feed on every word of God.’”


Then the Devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He orders his angels to protect you. And they will hold you with their hands to keep you from striking your foot on a stone.’ Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘Do not test the Lord your God.’”


Next the Devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him the nations of the world and all their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will only kneel down and worship me.” “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God; serve only him.’”


Then the Devil went away, and angels came and cared for Jesus.


This is the word of the Lord.

Let me ask you a question.


Growing up…did you ever have a friend or an acquaintance in your life that your mother or father did not want you to hang out with?


When you asked your parents “why not”, they would say that that person was not a good influence on your life.


What did that mean? “Not a good influence”?


Well, especially during the years of middle school, high school, and even college, as young people – we were very impressionable and could be shaped by our peers through their negative influence or via peer pressure.


The pressure to be popular, the pressure to not sit by ourselves during lunch or be among the outcasts, the pressure to not be the goodie-goodie two-shoes choir girl or the prude son of a preacher man…


Such pressure could influence us to do things that we would not normally do…


Like not doing your homework in favor of watching a favorite TV show you know everyone will talk about tomorrow…
 

Like using foul language around your friends and family because it’s the cool “adult” thing to do…
 

Like trying to go too far on a first date to prove to your friends that you’re a real man…
 

And the list can go on and on…
 

What were you tempted to do in order to prove your identity as being “cool” to someone else?
Sometimes, we’re able to resist such temptation on our own. Sometimes, it’s harder than others, and we fail to resist it.

 

Because each of us has gone through numerous times of temptation and peer pressure by negative influences in our lives, we can thankfully connect with what Jesus endured when He was out in the wilderness – alone, tired, hungry, and vulnerable – when Satan tried his best to tempt Jesus to do something wrong.
 

In fact, Jesus shows us in this passage how we can actually resist the negative influencers in our lives, including the most negative of whom would be the same devil, Satan, who tempted Jesus to sin against God.

Jesus actually gives us the simple blueprint on how to resist Satan and such negative influences that we can apply in our lives today.
 

The main lesson to learn from this passage is: You can resist Satan when You know the Word of God and trust in Jesus.
 

You can resist Satan when You know the Word of God and trust in Jesus.
 

What we will examine in this passage is that Jesus was tempted by Satan three times in the wilderness. How He overcame such temptation was that He knew the Word of God and that He trusted in what God said to obey it. This is the same way we can overcome the temptations in our lives – by knowing the Word of God, trusting what God said in it to obey it, and trust Jesus as the perfect example for us to follow when we get tested.


What we will also see is how Jesus did what Adam and Eve did not do successfully in the beginning – back in the Book of Genesis when they were tempted by Satan to eat fruit from the forbidden tree, disobeying God’s orders. To organize our journey together across these three temptations that Jesus endured in the wilderness, I want to highlight a verse from 1 John 2:16: “For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world.”


The key things to highlight from that verse are: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.


Those are exactly the three Satanic temptations that Jesus overcame that Adam and Eve did not. And these are the three points of our sermon today:
1.    Jesus overcame the lust of the flesh (vv. 1-4)
2.    Jesus overcame the lust of the eyes (vv. 5-7)
3.    Jesus overcame the pride of life (vv. 8-11)

Let’s learn from how Jesus overcame the lust of the flesh.


And the Bible says, in verses 1-4: Then Jesus was led out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted there by the Devil. For forty days and forty nights he ate nothing and became very hungry. Then the Devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, change these stones into loaves of bread.” But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People need more than bread for their life; they must feed on every word of God.’”


As this passage starts, notice that Jesus is led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted by the Devil. This was not Jesus prancing through the meadows and then surprised by the Devil and his schemes. No. God intended on Jesus being on the offensive – not the defensive – to prove to Satan that Jesus will overcome what Adam and Eve could not.


Now, you may be asking yourself: “Philip, what are you referring to regarding Adam and Eve?”

 

Let’s go back in time, biblically speaking, to the Book of Genesis, where it all started. Genesis chapter 3. In this pivotal chapter, Adam and Eve were enjoying themselves in the Garden of Eden that God had provided them. They were to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, subdue it and have dominion as God called them to do.


They had access to all that God had given them within the Garden except for the fruit from one tree that was in the middle of the garden. They were surrounded by abundance. All the fruits and vegetables they could have. Yet, Satan – like he does with us all – Satan focused on the lack that Adam and Eve had to take their attention away from all the blessings God gave them and covet the thing that they did not have. 


I just want to pause here really quick to point out that what Satan did back then with Adam and Eve, and what we’ll see soon in the first temptation with Jesus, is exactly what Satan will do to us if we’re not careful.

 

The good news is that Satan is not original. He has been doing the same tricks, schemes, perversions, and lies from the very beginning of the Earth. The bad news is that he is very tricky and can be very enticing and tempting if we are not careful, especially if he can get us to focus on being unhappy or jealous on what we do NOT have vs. being grateful for the good we do have from God.


Back to Adam and Eve. When Eve tells Satan that she must not touch or eat the fruit that God forbid her from the tree in the middle of the garden or else she will die, Satan lied to her in response, saying in Genesis 3:4-5: “You will not certainly die…For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”


Now, one thing to note about Satan is that Satan is a fallen angel. He once was among all the heavenly angels with God.

 

But no longer.
 

Why?


Because Satan wanted to be “like God”. He wanted to be “like God” so much that he rebelled against God and Jesus even said in Luke 10:18 that “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” And now that Satan is in Earth – and not in Heaven anymore – he wanted to convince Eve to desire being “like God” as he did.


And Satan convinced her, as the Bible says in Genesis 3:6-7: “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.”


And at that moment, sin entered the world and became part of human nature due to Adam and Eve trusting Satan more than God, disobeying God in the process of falling to Satan’s temptation to eat the fruit. Now, I hope you picked up something familiar with regard to Eve in verse 6… “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.”


When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree…was good for food…


And pleasing to the eye…


And also desirable for gaining wisdom…
 

What do those three things remind us of?
 

Lust of the flesh.
Lust of the eyes.
Pride of life.

 

In one sentence, Eve took in all three temptations towards eating the forbidden fruit and helping her husband Adam to do the same thing and ultimately sin against God.


Jesus now is facing those same three temptations in our passage. Let’s get back to the first one.
Now, while Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit intentionally into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil, Jesus also fasted for forty days and forty nights.

 

What does that mean?
He did not eat for forty days and forty nights.


Now, I could maybe see myself fasting for a whole day before I start losing my mind. Let alone forty days. Imagine how you would feel, what you would be thinking, and what you would be willing to do if you had no food for forty days.

 

Here Jesus is – alone, tired, hungry. He is in a vulnerable place as a human. And that is exactly the perfect time where Satan comes in to tempt him.


Recognize this: Satan is looking for the times when you are most vulnerable to tempt you to sin against God. When you are angry enough that he tempts you to curse out your co-worker. When you are lonely enough that he tempts you to visit that website late at night. When you are hungry enough that he tempts you to eat that whole pint of ice cream, when you were only planning to have a couple spoonfuls.


Jesus is very hungry. And Satan comes around and says to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, change these stones into loaves of bread.”


Now, did you catch what Satan just did?


Two things.
 

First: Satan questioned Jesus’ identity.

 

If…you are the Son of God…
 

We live in a world today that many people are questioning and redefining who they are and what are their identities. We have to be very careful because that is a play straight out of Satan’s historical playbook. If he can tempt Jesus to question or validate his identity, Satan will certainly do the same to you.
 

Second: Satan tries to get Jesus to satisfy his physical need outside of God’s faithful provision.
 

One of the key themes with Satan – like I said, unoriginal, if you know the Word of God – is that he will try to get us to fill a godly desire through an ungodly method. In contrast, God wants us to trust Him with the normal (and God-given) desires that we have and know how to satisfy them the right way and at the right time while honoring God.


Otherwise, we’re at risk of falling for Satan.

 

When you’re longing for companionship, acceptance and love, Satan will try to tempt you to fulfill it perversely through pornography and sexual promiscuity. When you are desiring to make the most of your life, Satan perverts that desire to make you focus on you and your ego as the center of the universe, rather than God. When you are hungry but don’t have enough money, Satan can tempt you to steal from the cafeteria an extra sandwich when no one is looking.


In the same vein, Satan is tempting Jesus to fulfill his physical need of hunger in a way outside of depending on God to provide.


Jesus responds by quoting Scripture, from the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 8:3, when He says: “People need more than bread for their life; they must feed on every word of God.”


Now, clearly, we do not feast on the word of God with fork and knife like we would do with our Thanksgiving dinner. However, Jesus is referring how we should feed our spirits with the Word of God that nourishes us and provides us with guidance and direction. We are to trust God for His provision – both physically and spiritually.  Bread feeds us for a moment and later we will be hungry again. But the Word of God can quench our hunger (and thirst) spiritually forever if we take the time regularly to feast on its contents to bring us closer to God.


Strike One against the Devil as Jesus overcomes the lust of the flesh.


Here comes the second temptation in verses 5-7: Then the Devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He orders his angels to protect you. And they will hold you with their hands to keep you from striking your foot on a stone.’ Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘Do not test the Lord your God.’”


Do you notice something repeating from the second temptation that we saw in the first one?


Satan once again questions Jesus’ identity when he says once again “If you are the Son of God”.
In this instance, he challenges Jesus to jump off the highest point of the temple in Jerusalem and have his angels save him if Jesus is indeed the Son of God.


The first temptation was dealing with the lust of flesh. The second temptation deals with the lust of the eyes.
 

How?
 

While the first temptation deals with a need of the flesh to solve its hunger with bread to physically eat, the second temptation involves the eyes of what Jesus would witness if He indeed called on the angels of God to save Him.
 

When I was in college, one of the last things on my senior year bucket list was to go skydiving.
 

Now, I’m a big guy, and I’m glad I cleared the weight limit to go tandem skydiving with another guy strapped behind my back as we leaped out of a plane over ten thousand feet in the air. When I jumped off the plane, I had faith that the guy behind me would pull the parachute at the right time and glide us both down successfully and safely to the ground.
 

It was also quite a sight to see if I had the skydive recorded.
 

Now imagine Jesus jumping off the highest point of the temple in Jerusalem. With no parachute. Nobody strapped behind him to direct him safely to the ground. All Jesus would do is put Himself in a situation where He would call on the angels of God to save Him. What a sight it would be to witness that and for Jesus to know that the angels would answer His call in a time of need, even if He put himself in that situation to begin with.
 

The problem is that Satan was calling on Jesus to test God to answer an emotional need.

 

Essentially, asking the question: “Will God save me if I put myself in harm’s way?”
 

By jumping off, Jesus would be testing God to see if He would do what Satan talked about in referencing Scripture in verse six: “He orders his angels to protect you. And they will hold you with their hands to keep you from striking your foot on a stone.” What Satan quoted comes straight from Psalm 91:11-12.
 

Why is that important?
 

Satan knows Scripture too.
 

Now let that marinate for a little bit…


Satan attempted to use Scripture in a way to get Jesus to sin against God. Now, if Satan can use Scripture and twist it in a way to try to get Jesus to disobey God, how much more likely will Satan use this “unoriginal” trick in his historic playbook to try to convince us to do wrong against God?
 

The challenge is that many Christians simply do not read the whole Bible. We may know and memorize a few popular verses, but many of us do not know the whole biblical story and all of its history and context. If we do not know the Word of God more intimately than we do now, we put ourselves at risk of being influenced negatively by someone who knows Scripture more than we do.
 

Now, fortunately for Jesus, that was not the case as He responds to Satan in verse seven: “The Scriptures also say, ‘Do not test the Lord your God’”. Jesus quotes from the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 6:16.
 

The lesson I took away from this is that, as Christians, we should not favor reading the New Testament over the Old Testament just because Jesus is in the Gospels or just because there are practical pieces of advice on how to live our lives in books like James.

 

No, we should make efforts to read, learn and apply from all of Scripture into our lives as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says: “ALL Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
 

All Scripture includes both the New Testament and the Old Testament. All of it is useful for us to apply in our lives, as Jesus did in answering the second temptation of Satan.
 

Strike Two against Satan, as Jesus overcomes the lust of the eyes by trusting in God to provide and not testing Him just because Satan challenges him to do so.

Finally, we get to the third and final temptation from Satan in verses 8-11: Next the Devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him the nations of the world and all their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will only kneel down and worship me.” “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God; serve only him.’” Then the Devil went away, and angels came and cared for Jesus.


Satan shows Jesus the nations of the world and all their glory. Satan, known as the father of lies (John 8:44), then lies to Jesus, trying to convince Him that Satan will give Jesus all the nations under one condition.

 

That Jesus no longer serves God and instead kneels down and worships Satan.


Now think about that…
 

Jesus, who was with God in the foundation of the world in the beginning. Jesus, who witnessed all these nations forming because of God – not Satan. Now Satan wants Jesus to deny God’s creation as the Creator and believe the lie that these nations belong to Satan and Jesus can access them by worshipping Satan.


Now, for clarity purposes, one can argue that when Satan fell like lightning from Heaven to Earth due to his rebellion against God, Satan became “god of the world”, as stated in 2 Corinthians 4:4, and “ruler of the kingdom of the air”, as stated in Ephesians 2:2.


Until Jesus comes back again to help usher in a new heaven and a new earth, Satan temporarily has a stronghold over the Earth. We live in a fallen world due to the original sin of Adam and Eve when they were tempted by Satan. All that is bad in this world stems from that original act of disobedience against God. And we are living amongst the consequences of such sin, as well as our own sins, through both the passive and active wrath of God.

 

Yet, part of the Good News, and thus the Gospel, is that because of what Jesus did – not only in overcoming the three temptations of Satan but also through His faithful ministry, obedient death by crucifixion and bodily resurrection afterwards, Satan’s “kingdom” is limited and Satan will ultimately be dealt with and judged eternally by God and Satan’s earthly kingdom will be no more.


Which is why this “unoriginal” play, “the pride of life”, by Satan’s historic playbook does not work with Jesus.  Jesus knows the truth. God created the heavens and the Earth. This all belongs to Him, not to Satan. Jesus already has it. Why would He believe the lie of Satan to grab on to something that truly does not belong to Satan by worshipping a false god?


That’s why Jesus responds, yet again, with Scripture by saying: “Get out of here, Satan. For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God; serve only Him.’” In this, Jesus quoted the Old Testament again in Deuteronomy 6:13.


Now, while Jesus successfully overcame “the pride of life” temptation, we must be careful not to fall to this temptation as well. Just as pride had done for Satan, pride can come before our downfall too if we’re not careful.


What lies or false gods have you been tempted to follow in your life?
 

What has taken priority in your life over worshipping God? 
 

Could it be worshipping yourself, money, success, sex, or fame?
 

A significant “pride of life” temptation that is running rampant in our world today is the worship and faith in the individual. In our own ego that we are self-sufficient by ourselves without God. We don’t need Jesus. We can just figure everything out and do not need anyone telling us who we are, because we redefine who we are to our own liking.
 

The challenge with that is that way of thinking is filled with pride. 
 

The Bible warns us in Proverbs 3:7: “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.” When we’re tempted by Satan to take pride in ourselves, we are to obey what the Bible says in James 4:7 and “submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” 
 

By knowing God’s Word and trusting in Jesus, we resist the Devil while obeying, trusting, and worshipping God.


As we see in this third temptation, there is a true binary present here...

We are either worshipping God or worshipping Satan.


There is no in-between.


The question is: who will you be worshipping? Who will you be serving?


Will we trust what God says in His Word and serve him or will we put our trust in our fallen world and serve Satan?
 

As James warns in James 4:4: “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”


A friend of the world is taking on the pride of life and serving Satan. As Christians, we are pilgrims to a foreign land with the objective of serving as God’s ambassadors to help bring God’s kingdom here to Earth as it is in heaven, until we die or until Jesus returns.


The way for us to resist Satan and his well-known temptations of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is to know, study and apply the Word of God in our lives and trust Jesus in what He did for us, so that we may be saved from our sins and be reconciled as enemies no more to God but as part of His heavenly family forever.


Strike Three as Jesus overcomes the pride of life…and the Devil is OUT!


I remember, during one of my darkest times, when I felt afraid, worried, and vulnerable when Satan tempted me.


He asked me a simple question...

 

“How many people would actually miss you if you were no longer here?”


I was at a crossroads where Satan tried to plant a seed in my mind to consider if life was even worth living anymore. Things had gotten so bad in my life at the time that I did not see a worthwhile end in sight.


All it takes is for Satan to get a foothold in your thoughts, and he can wear you down to the point of influencing you to do something that you will forever regret or tragically go past the point of no return.


How did I respond?


A verse came in my head – and through my lips – that not only gave me peace but also helped me resist the Devil.
 

Galatians 6:9.
 

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”


That verse gave me strength. That verse gave me hope.
 

I believed in what God said through His Word.
 

If I don’t give up and I keep doing good, to the best of my ability faithfully, I would see a harvest at the proper time. I just had to keep trusting God through my storm and keep moving forward, while resisting the temptations of the Devil.


That was a testament of me consistently reading, studying, and applying the Word of God in my life for many years before such temptation.

 

I was trying to follow what James advises us to do in James 1:22-25 that we should “not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do.”


I want you to be blessed in what you do, and it starts from hearing – and reading – the Word of God.


I remember one of the happiest times in my life was when I had my study bible – the same one I’ve had for 20 years now – in the middle of the mountainous wilderness of Lesotho in the African continent, and I would spend hours of dedicated, intimate time with God – enjoying His creation and reading His Word. I was reading beyond just popular verses like Romans 8:28, John 3:16, or Jeremiah 29:11. I was poring through chapters in one session on a daily basis beyond Sunday morning.

 
One of the greatest pieces of advice that I can give to a young believer wanting to mature in his / her walk with Jesus is to commit to a one-year reading plan that goes through the whole Bible.

 

I preferably would do it with a study Bible that shares further knowledge and application points in the margins of the Bible to help you further comprehend the Bible beyond just words on a page and inscribe it in your heart and memory, so you can apply it in your lives similar to Joshua 1:8: “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
 

You can start your one-year reading plan at the start of the new year, or, preferably, start where you are today and keep reading through the plan and keep reading as the Word of God goes from your eyes internally into our minds and hearts. The Word of God taking root inside us will manifest itself outwardly in what we do in our actions and say with our lips.


When we keep the Word of God on our lips, as well as in our minds and hearts, we can become more like Jesus who successfully overcame the temptations of Satan – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

 

If He had not overcome those temptations as the second and last Adam, if He has disobeyed God like the first Adam, we would be without a Lord and Savior capable of forgiving us for our sins and inheriting eternal life with our Heavenly Father. 
 

Our future outlook would be bleak, to say the least.
 

But God…incarnate in human form as Jesus Christ not only overcame Satan in the wilderness but He also overcame Satan in the grave, for death would not have the final say over us as believers, as Jesus, the spotless lamb and man without sin, took on our sins obediently on the Cross, resisted the temptation to save Himself from being crucified, and died the death that we as sinners deserved, so that we can take on His righteousness, so that when God sees us, as believers in Jesus Christ, He sees not our sins, but He sees our Son.

 

And because of that, God can forgive us of our many sins and welcome us to His growing family.

What about you?


Are you currently facing the many temptations from Satan in your life?
 

Jesus has provided us the blueprint to overcome and resist Satan.
 

Know the Word of God and Trust in Jesus.
 

Do you trust Jesus today to follow Him and to believe in the Word of God?
 

Jesus loves you. 


If you’re not yet a believer, I believe that Jesus is calling you to Him right now. And He wants you to come as you are, flaws and all, and put your trust not in yourself but in Him. He will forgive all of your sins and help you become more like Him, resisting the Devil and his unoriginal temptations, as you walk with Jesus until you meet Him face to face in Heaven.
 

Of all the things I have done in my life, following Him is the best decision I ever made. And I want you to make the best decision in your life too.
 

All we have to do is ask Jesus into our hearts and make Him the Lord and Savior of our lives.
If you’re ready to take that step, would you pray this prayer with me: Dear Jesus, I am a sinner in need of a Savior. I believe that you came from Heaven to Earth to live, die and rise again just for me, so that my sins may be forgiven. I trust you with my life. By faith, I make you my Lord and Savior. Thank you for your love and sacrifice. In Jesus name, Amen.

 

If you prayed that prayer, let me be the first to congratulate you on the best decision you could make in your life. Let me also welcome you to the family, as the angels in Heaven are rejoicing on you coming back home. I encourage you to find a local, Bible-based church to connect with and to join its community as you do life together with other believers.


If you already are a believer, and you want to do your part within God’s mighty plan to help others resist Satan by knowing the Word of God and trusting in Jesus, please share this message with someone who does not yet know Jesus. God has a great plan for you, and it involves bringing the spiritually lost back to God through Jesus Christ. 
 

Let us continue the good work ahead of us to globally spread the Good News about Jesus Christ and to welcome more into His family.

 

God bless you for watching, listening to or reading this sermon. Thank you and take care.

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