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The Temptation of Jesus by Satan Matt. 4:1-11

June 29, 2014 Series: The Gospel of Matthew

Topic: Sunday AM Passage: Matthew 4:1–4:11

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Matt. 4:1-11 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. 3And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4But 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.’”

5Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple,

6and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written,
‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU’; and
‘ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP,
SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’”

7Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’”

8Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; 9and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” 10Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’” 11Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.

This is a crucial study for us - and I constantly am humbled and reminded that this responsibility of feeding sheep is not to be taken lightly.

I look at passages like this and I think, 'who am I to be teaching this?' 'What if I get it wrong?' Who do I think I am that I can do any justice at all to these important truths?

Then I remember that I am in a very long line of painfully ordinary folks who Jesus calls to just be faithful and depend on Him.

This passage in particular only means something in relation to who this man called Jesus really is.

I think Satan has confused our minds with all of the 'super hero's' You've got SuperMan and BatMan and SpiderMan and Green Lantern, and Satan has confused our minds into thinking of Jesus in super hero terms.

Able to leap tall buildings etc. He can fly around the world so fast that he can go backwards in time.

So where does Jesus fall in the Super Hero order. Less than superman but greater than Spider man? Because frankly, if these temptations are bouncing off Him like bullets riccocheting off superman, we're not too impressed. That's what Satan wants. Confuse the real with mythology, so that it somehow becomes mythology.

So the first thing to do as we approach this passage is to re-establish some Christology so that when we look at this text, it means what it's supposed to mean.

Quickly turn with me to Colossians 2:9. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form

Jesus is God. Fully God. Fully man.

We'll throw some theological terms around this morning. That essense of 2 natures, one being, is called the hypostatic union. Fully God, fully man. One person.

Hebrews Chapter 1 says Vss1-3a God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.

Remember Philip? Show us the Father . . in John 14:8,9 Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." 9Jesus said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father;

Fully God, but also fully man. Stay with me now. Look with me one more place, Philippians 2:5-8 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but emptied Himself, taking the form of a doulos, a slave, and being made in the likeness of men. 8Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

He emptied Himself. The greek word is ekenōsen. We call this passage the kenosis. The emptying.

OK, some more terminology. Don't leave me now. Theologians define this phenomenon as essential equality. Functional subordination. Essential equality, functional subordination.

Jesus is equal to His Father in essence. Fully! But emptying Himself He became functionally subordinate as a man on this earth.

Adam was created to glorify God as a servant. He failed. Israel was formed to glorify God as a servant. They failed. Jesus comes to earth as the second Adam, the faithful Son, to Glorify God as a servant. He Did Not Fail.

All of that because I want you to understand that when Jesus is led into the wilderness, by the Spirit, for testing, He is empty of the Glory He had as God in heaven. He is a man, completely dependent on and subordinate to His Father in heaven.

1Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

Notice it is God, the Holy Spirit who leads Jesus into the wilderness. Satan doesn't sneak up on Him. This is a planned event.

Mt. 12:29 "Or how can anyone enter the strong man's house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.

'Throw everything you've got at my Servant, satan.' This event is the binding of the 'strong man'. His house, this cosmos, this earth, is about to be plundered by someone who is stronger. The rightful heir.

When this temptation is accomplished, Satan will know that he is vanquished.

A word about the setting. The wilderness. The highway that drops down down down from Jerusalem to Jericho passes through something like this area.

Have you ever been to Zabriskie point in Death Valley and looked down into the no-man's land of Golden canyon? That's where we're at. So harsh that almost no life is sustained there. No water. No food.

Think about the temptation with the first Adam. In a lush garden. Every need is more than met. It's beautiful. All you can eat. Every plant, save one. A new bride.

Jesus had that going for Him. No temptations from stuff. Nothing but fellowship with His Father for 40 days. Sometimes perhaps want is better than plenty

2And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.

D'ya think. At this point physical weakness is a factor.

Physical need always has a spiritual component. God provides for us. In many ways. It gets complicated. God provides a job for income to pay for the things we need. We are thankful and the whole process glorifies Him.

But the other possibility is to move out of His provisional will and take things for ourselves that He did not provide. That is sin. Add a bunch of credit cards to the mix and, like I said, things get complicated.

Watch what Satan does here. Vs. 3 And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

This is just layered with compound temptations. First, Satan does the exact same thing he did in the garden of eden. Hath God said? He questions God's word.

What was the very last thing before this temptation that God said? "This is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased." What's the first thing out of Satan's mouth? "If you are the Son of God . . . Just another way of saying "Hath God said?" Same old thing. Are you really the Son of God? Prove it.

Next March I'll be gone for a week including at least one Sunday I think. I've already held my place and paid for a slot to attend a Summit on Biblical Inerrancy. You can read about what's going to occur at inerrantword.com

Every generation needs to work hard to keep re-defining or better yet, re-affirming the inerrancy of the Word of God, and how that translates to the Bible's authority over christians.

The reason you can't do it once and walk away is because the Devil never stops attacking this book. Hath God said.

I read a rather lengthy (for me, because I've got the attention span of a gnat) piece this week that was recently posted at the inerrantword.com site by Mark Christopher. titled The Ecclesiastical Promotion of Homosexuality and the Demise of Biblical Authority

It fits well with what I'm struggling to say in our passage today. The author goes into great detail about how modern people can come up with a theology that is inclusive to sins that for centuries no one questioned as excluding those who practiced them from calling themselves 'christians'.

I'll just quote a tiny bit of how we can get from 'high view of scripture' to 'anything goes'

Weasel words. In fact the proponents of gay evangelicalism will stand there and tell you they have a high view of scripture. How does that work? Follow along. (reading from Christopher's piece...)

How do those who subscribe to a watered down variant of biblical authority phrase their skepticism? Francis Schaffer in his classic on this topic, The Great Evangelical Disaster, gave some good examples of the weasel words that are stealthily employed by skeptics. Here is but one example from the 1974 Lausanne Covenant, which illustrates the creed of diminished biblical authority:

The Lausanne Covenant was a previous summit on the innerancy of scripture that happened 40 years ago. Men of God met and spent days writing out a set of affirmations and denials. The next sentence is from that great summit.

“We affirm the divine inspiration, truthfulness and authority of both Old and New Testament Scriptures in their entirety as the only written Word of God, without error in all that it affirms, and the only infallible rule of faith and practice.”
Sounds good, right, but watch how the weasels take an ironclad statement and reduce it to so much rubble.

The question must be asked, what exactly does the Bible affirm and what doesn’t it affirm? In the minds of biblical skeptics and pro-gay interpreters, the Bible only affirms that which is directly related to salvation while other matters related to history, science, cosmology (evolution), and geography are deemed susceptible to errancy. The loophole here is found in the clause “without error in all it affirms”. This one statement gives many skeptics the latitude they need to justify the latest secular findings without having to suffer the academic embarrassment often associated with maintaining a high view of Scripture.

An example of this creed of diminished biblical authority was advanced by the Roger’s and McKim proposal. In 1981 Jack Rogers, a pro-gay interpreter, and Donald McKim published a tome entitled The Authority and Interpretation of The Bible: An Historical Approach. The thesis of the authors was to prove that the historically central tradition of the church emphasized a biblical infallibility that was limited to matters of faith and practice. Restated, biblical infallibility is confined to redemptive issues, not to other areas the Bible mentions in passing like history, science, geography et. al. This means the Bible carries little to no authority in matters outside the circle of salvation.

This all culminates in the final consideration — the results of diminished biblical authority. The applications of this skeptical creed of Scriptural authority are multitudinous. Schaeffer rightly notes that “… compromising the full authority of Scripture eventually affects what it means to be a Christian and how we live in the full spectrum of human life.” When the standard of biblical authority is lowered it leads to the general worldview of the world infiltrating the church, to include the approval of ethical issues like homosexuality and its corollary same-sex marriage.

Did you follow how the weasel words worked. You affirm the 1974 Lausanne Covenant and claim to have a high view of scripture but you weasel on the words and end up with a Bible that has no authority in matters of history, science, geography, and seemingly morality, since morality is all of a sudden based in science. You just wiped out a huge portion of the scripture.

And worse yet, you just became the authority, not the scripture. Someone has to decide, 'what's in? what's out?' once you leave the high ground that says what Jesus said at the very end of the book. These words are faithful and true.

Which words Jesus? Doesn't that sound amazingly similar to what the devil said to Eve? Hath God said? We've come full circle.

Nobody asked me very many questions (in fact none at all) when you gave me the opportunity to fill this pulpit. What you got, without fully knowing it, is someone who is willing to die on this hill called Authority of Scripture. All of it.

OK, back to Matthew 4. Satan's going to try the weasel words on Jesus.

3And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

What's wrong here?

Jesus has emptied himself. Kenosis. He is essentially equal to the father, but in His incarnation He is functionally subordinate. The Father is supplying His needs.

Jesus needs bread. Badly. But to speak bread into existence, outside the will of His father would be sin. To step outside of the subordinate position in His flesh as Son and act independently of His Father would be sin.

As I was meditating on these things, this thought came to me. Revelation 22:6. I already quoted it earlier. These words are faithful and true. All of them. What if Jesus had spoken stones into bread. Commanded the stones to become bread.

You would have to cancel that statement. These words are faithful and true. All except that time Jesus commanded the stones to be bread. Those words werent' faithful and true.

The scroll of the book rides on Jesus answer here. As soon as words come out of Jesus mouth that aren't faithful and true, the air goes out of the whole thing. I think Jesus answer reflects just that.

Vs. 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.’”

There's more at stake here than bread. Get the trinity to act independent of each other. Full belly. Spiritual death. God the father will decide when Jesus the man will eat.

I have no doubt that when the temptations were finished and Satan left the scene, that the angels brought food to Jesus.

Note also that in what Jesus said, He seems to answer the folks who are dividing up the Bible into the passages that they say are innerrant, and all the rest that is subject to error. Jesus is pretty clear. EVERY WORD. ALL OF THEM. Every word in this book is faithful and true.

BTW, back up to those first three words Jesus said. "It is written"

If you don't know ahead of time WHAT is written, you've already lost this battle.

Do you remember a few weeks ago I quoted a pew research statistic thing about what evangelicals know about their bibles. The atheists beat the evangelicals by a significant number in Bible knowledge.

So, by logical conclusion, how long is the average evangelical going to last when Satan comes to tempt.

Scary, right? We need to be people of the book. We need the bible flowing in our veins. Hosea 4:6 says; My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Jesus said, "It is written". Every time . . . He said that.

Hath God said? It is written. Hath God said? It is written. Did God really say that?? It is written.

That's why after Peter's temptation when Jesus restores him He says to him 3 times. Feed my sheep. Feed my lambs. Feed my sheep. That had a dual effect. It forced Peter to baptise himself in this book, and the next time Satan came knocking, Peter had ammunition. Plus the sheep get fed ammunition against the devil also.

The second temptation is really interesting. The first one is pretty straight forward. You're hungry. If you're really God, make some food. But the second one, we get a lesson in weasel words. Satan really cranks it up. And we would do well to pay attention to how Satan is going to twist the Word of God here.

5Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple,

This is travel probably similar to Philip's when he was sent by first the angel of the Lord, then the Spirit to explain the gospel to an Ethiopian Eunuch . You remember how the story ends; 8:39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.

Another baptism by immersion, but we don't need to visit that again this soon. In any case, I don't think they walked up to Jerusalem.

This pinnacle may well be the portico that Herod built. Josephus mentions it. It stood 450 feet above the Kidron valley floor. Church tradition says James was thrown off of here when he was martyred.

6and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written,
‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU’;
and
‘ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP,
SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’”

Right back at 'ya Jesus. You like the Word of God? Here's what it says in Psalm 91. Let's give this a little test, shall we?

This is a question of sovereignty, isn't it. God won't let a hair on John the Baptist's head perish, but when it pleases Him, John will lose all of his hair, along with his head.

So if Jesus were to take Satan's suggestion, He forces the issue of sovereignty doesn't He.

There are times in the gospel story of Jesus, as we'll see, where the mob is full on coming to finish Him off. The cliff's at Nazareth after he read Isaiah in the synagogue. Later on in Jerusalem when they would have seized him to stone him, and he walks out of their midst.

Even at His arrest in the garden, He speaks and all the soldiers fall down. These and probably a 1000 times more that aren't written for us are Psalm 91 fulfillments.

Read Psalm 91. It gets it's fulfillment within the sovereign plan and good pleasure of Almighty God.

It's funny how selective Satan is. The next verse after the one he quotes to Jesus is; 13You will tread upon the lion and cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.

Ouch, what's the matter Satan? Didn't like that verse? Think about that verse, there's a lesson there for us.

Remember Paul's incident in Acts 28? 2The natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all. 3But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand. 4When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they began saying to one another, “Undoubtedly this man is a murderer, and though he has been saved from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.” 5However he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm. 6But they were expecting that he was about to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had waited a long time and had seen nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god.

That's Psalm 91 in action. The other side of that coin are the churches in rural backwoods places in the United States that for 100 years have handled snakes on purpose to prove God will do the stuff in Mark chapter 16and Psalm 91.

George Went Hensley (1880–1955) introduced snake handling practices into the Church of God Holiness, circa 1910. He later resigned his ministry and started the first holiness movement church to require snake handling as evidence of salvation.

Oh, Hensley died of a snake bite in 1955, as have many others. They are doing exactly what Satan was suggesting Jesus do in this temptation. All they had to do is read Jesus' answer to Satan.

7Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’”

Here, Jesus uses some basic apologetics. He uses a Bible text to properly interpret another text. Satan's text was indeed from the Bible. His problem was that it is twisted to mean something beyond it's intent.

Psalm 91 is about Sovereign intervention in the lives of those who are out serving the Sovereing God. It's not about jumping off of temples to force His hand.

Does anybody here think we ought to buy some used bungy jumping cords on Ebay and jump off the new Colorado river bridge they just built. Sort of force God's hand a little?

You want to do what the Bible says? Here's a famous quote for you.

So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. Go, and do thou likewise. What thou doest, do quickly.

Jesus quote trumps Satan's quote. Game over.

Notice for the second time, it is written. IF we don't know what's written we'll be taking up the snakes and jumping off bridges to prove God is really there . . . which it doesn't. It only proves our own ignorance and lack of faith.

Two times so far, Satan has tempted Jesus to act independently of the sovereign will of His Father in heaven. He mucks up scripture the second time to try to sugar coat it. Hath God said? God Hath said . . but all boogered up and not really. Twisted truths. Weasel words. Caution. Know your book.

Finally, Satan quits beating around the bush and just gets to the point in the 3rd temptation.

8Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; 9and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.”

Satan pulls out all the stops. Satan is the God of this cosmos. All the authorities to reign are based in him. He controls it all. That's why the world is a train wreck.

Jesus is heir . . to all of it. But again, it's in Sovereign God's time frame. Jesus is heir, but He has to wait until the appointed time.

Satan is really putting everything he has to bet on the table in this poker game. That's it. He can't raise the bet any higher. He can offer Jesus a broken filthy world.

Was it a viable temptation. I think so. I think it is what Jesus was talking about when He says; "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

I get all this, but you get my soul? I don't think so.

10Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’”

Again, It IS Written. The first and foremost commandment in the entire book. Worship God. Only. Serve God. Only. Go Satan!

The temptation period is over. When Jesus tells him to get lost, He is in complete union with the Triune Godhead. Satan has no other choice but to obey the voice of Jesus here, and at every future time he or any of his demons comes into the proximity of Jesus.

When Jesus shouts GO! satan is forever forward, vanquished. He must obey this voice. Jesus has bound the strong man . . in his own house. Victory!

11Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him. The angels brought Him eggs and bacon and ham and potatoes and coffee. I can see it plain as day.


Epilogue

A short one. What do we take away from this event?

1.) Satan is vanquished. When we are in Christ. Only when we are in Christ. He's still seeking christians to devour. He's still a roaring lion. He's still asking the Father to sift some of us like wheat. But ultimately he has lost the war.

2.) My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. We need to know this book. We need to be ready to make a defense, to have those "it is written's" available to us. Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee. Ps. 119:11

3.) We need to hold to a high view of scripture. It is inerrant. ALL of it. ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’ All of it is inspired. Every word. Don't let the weasels come with their weasel words and take that truth away. The spiritual power is in Every Word, just like Jesus said.