Triumph Over Sin

By S.C. Shaw

I have been a Christian for most of my life. I was a terrible Christian for along time, but still a Christian. One thing that I have noticed is whenever myself or anyone I know has had a spiritual victory, been saved, prayer, reading the bible, victory over sin, is always followed up by attack. You may have experienced this already. Or maybe you have and didn’t know you were in an attack. After Jesus started His ministry, he has a huge spiritual victory, and it’s time to start his ministry. The time for Christ testing is now.

Matthew 4:1-11

The Temptation of Jesus

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,

but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and 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,

lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God

and him only shall you serve.’”

Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.”

Let’s break this down:

Matthew 4:1

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

Why is He being led to the wilderness? Let’s get some context, back to Matthew 3

(Matthew 3:16-17)  

The Baptism of Jesus

“And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said,“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” 

This is the “real” start for Christ. The beginning of the end to sin for those who would believe. This is the start of the most amazing event to ever come to history as we know it. 

Back to the story.

V1. Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

Immediately He was taken to the wilderness. It almost seems like He was rushed to go. Christ is finally ready to start His ministry and He gets taken away. Why?

Why must Jesus be taken away to be tempted/tested in the wilderness? Let’s get to the miracles already, right? Jesus has been waiting patiently for God the Fathers perfect timing. Now, 30 years later, Jesus is ready to start His ministry.

This was the final testing for Christ to prove His worthiness to be our substitute. Jesus was already perfect and worthy to follow through with the Fathers will, but God is a God of details, and God is all about teaching us about His character. He is showing us how worthy and holy His Son is. God is giving us guidelines to live our lives more faithfully, to look to our perfect example on how to live. 

I thought of this passage for along time as “poor Jesus, what a difficult test for him”. But as I studied it, something became very clear. Jesus was going to this testing with full confidence. I think Satan didn’t want anything to do with it. The devil knew he wasn’t going to win. And Jesus knew He would win. Jesus walked into that wilderness eager to prove to all creation of His worthiness and perfection. Jesus came in on the offense. A fight between Jesus and Satan is like a fight between a boot and an ant. No contest.

V2. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. “

Why forty? You think that this was a coincidence that God is mirroring some Old Testament events? The Israelites were wandering the wilderness for 40 years. They were tested there. They were hungry. They were lead by the Spirit just as Jesus was. There are many similarities here. But the biggest one is, where the Israelites failed, Jesus was determined to obey. 

Also, fasting always comes with a time of great testing. Fasting is a great way to focus on prayer. Fasting makes you weak and strong at the same time. As you grow weaker physically, you are growing stronger spiritually. 

The word “temp” in the original Hebrew means both tested and tempted. As God the Father is using this time to test Christ, Satan is using it to temp Jesus. God can never temp you, but He will test you. What Satan means for evil, God plans for good. 

V3. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 

You see what Satan did there? “He tries to plant doubt, “If you are the Son of God”. We saw in chapter 3 that God spoke to Jesus and proclaimed His Son ship. But Satan wants to plant any doubt he can to attempt the sin of Jesus. But as we will find out, Jesus is much more powerful than any temptation. 

Satan is temping Jesus right where His gifts are. Jesus has the power to turn whatever He wants into whatever He wants. Jesus is hungry, He’s physically weak. He knows that He’s able to turn those stones into bread. How does Jesus reply to this?

Jesus looks the devil in the eyes, punches him and He defeats the devil just like that! ….

Is that what happened?

No, Jesus used the Word of God to strengthen Himself and defeat His enemy. 

V4 But He answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,

but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

I love this. Do you realize what He’s saying here? First off, He’s quoting the Old Testament. But what does it mean? Is it bad to eat? Is it a sin to be hungry? No!

Jesus is using Scripture to defend His Father and ultimately Himself because He is God. “Man shall not live by bread alone”. God made food to be a blessing for us. He could have made a square block that had every nutritional value our bodies needed. We could have no taste buds and just ate to live. God could have done that. But He didn’t. He created flavors, so many flavors, so much goodness that no one will ever be able to enjoy all in this life. What a good God. 

But what Jesus is saying here is, “I trust my Father in heaven and if He wants Me to die, no amount of food can keep me alive. And if He wants me to live, no amount of fasting can kill me”. He’s proclaiming His trust and power in the God of heaven. 

V5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple. 

V6 and 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,

lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Satan is misquoting scripture. Now Satan is temping Jesus with the very power Jesus just uttered in the last verse. “Your God is powerful, then show it.” They are at a populated city where Jesus would become famous if He jumped off the temple and God slowly guided Him down safely to the ground. Jesus would have an instant following. Sound good right? But How does Jesus reply?

V7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 

What does that mean? Would God not have caught him? I thought God was all powerful and would keep you alive if He wanted to? To contrast verse 1. Putting God to the test isn’t some ultra way to prove your trust in God. Like going out to the desert and sitting there with no food or shelter, praying to God “I fully trust you to provide for me”. That’s not trusting in God, that’s being irresponsible with the life God has given you. For example, people have tested God in this way in the past. They have jumped off a high place with full trust that God will not let any harm come to them. You know what happened? They died. Putting God in a place that He should not have to be. Making God something He’s not. Making God do something He doesn’t.  

Also, You will always be tempted where your gifting’s are. If you are smart you will be tempted to be boastful. If you are an artist, you will be tempted to use your art to glorify yourself instead of God. Satan will use your gifts against you. Again, what God has planned for good, the enemy will try to use for evil. 

V8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 

V9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 

Finally we get to the heart of what Satan has wanted this whole time. He has wanted to be head honcho since we was an angel in heaven. This is why he was cast out. Now he gets to challenge Jesus to get what he wants. But of course Christ would not and could not do this. 

V10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God

and him only shall you serve.’”

Jesus is answering in the same way we should all face temptation and idolatry. We should not be making anything more important in our lives than God. But how hard is that for us? Our hearts are idol factories. What is an idol? Anything we put before or ahead of God. 

V11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

God brings triumph to those who remain faithful in testing. When we triumph over temptation God sends us extra blessing. We are drawn closer to Him with every victory. We are not and cannot earn our salvation with our works, but we can receive blessing from God for our faithfulness to His calling. 

When we go through trials, suffering, persecution, temptation and all other forms of seemingly bad things, know that God is working those things for good. He is growing your faith and character. When God calls you to something, just know there will be testing. God’s calls are big and always out of the realm of our strength. God is strengthening you, not to be strong in your own efforts, but being made able to be stronger in him. Knowing how to call upon His power for His glory alone. All the great men and women of God went through lots of testing before they were able to accomplish the plans God had for them. But these are all blessings.  

Remain faithful to God. Jesus was tested and proven to be our rightful sacrifice. We have every right to draw near to God because of Jesus. We have no salvation to earn for ourselves. The work has been done by Christ alone. But now we are called to a new life. To walk in a way that is proof that you are a child of Gods. But remember, this is not out of your own efforts. You draw near to God and He draws near to you! 

Closing:

Please don’t let my word be the final word on this. Pick up the Bible, read Gospel-saturated books by good authors, read good commentaries on the Bible, pick up Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology”, read the 1689 London Baptist confession of faith and learn from a man’s lifetime of study and meditation on the Word of God. Most of all, trust in Jesus Christ and know what He has given us is whole, perfect and is for our good and His glory. Love you all!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Music StevenShaw.co

Ministry Page www.MisfitMinistry.com

Instagram @themisfitministry

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