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Don’t Take the Bait

24 Jun

Everywhere I go, temptation is staring me in the face. I want to resist and walk away, but far too often I am like a moth drawn to a flame. Before I know it, I’ve succumbed and gotten burned.

Is it possible to gain victory? Or am I destined to live a defeated life?

Studying the temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4:1-11 gives us insight both into Satan’s strategy as well as how Jesus was victorious. We can learn some principles we can use to gain victory as well.

God uses tests to prove our character. A test of any sort can have both a positive or negative outcome. It can prove how strong, healthy, and wise we are, or it can reveal how weak, sickly, or dumb we are. Temptation in and of itself is not bad. It’s how we respond to it. Just as Jesus learned obedience through suffering (Hebrews 5:8), so tests can strengthen our character rather than defeat us.

Temptation often comes immediately after a success. Jesus’ temptation came immediately after his baptism (Matthew 3:13-17). Study the lives of Abraham, Moses, David, and others and you discover the same pattern. Rather than relax and let down our guard after a success, we need to remain vigilant and on guard against the enemy.

Satan will often tempt us on the last thing God taught us. During Jesus’ baptism, God the Father said, “This is my beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17). Satan began his temptation with “If you are the Son” (Matthew 4:3). He employed the same strategy with Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:1). Don’t be surprised if he uses it on you.

Satan’s strategy has not changed since the Garden of Eden.

Temptation

Genesis 3

Matthew 4

1 John 2:16

Appeal to personal appetite You may eat of any tree (3:1) You may eat by changing stones to bread (4:3) The Lust of the Flesh
Appeal to personal gain You will not die (3:4) You can do a miracle to gain attention (4:6) The Lust of the Eyes
Appeal to power or glory You will be like God (3:5) You can have the world’s kingdoms without suffering (4:8‑9) The Pride of Life

Victory comes as we depend on God’s Word. Jesus gained victory over Satan by quoting Scripture. “It is written” was his response to each temptation. Christ’s example should motivate us to memorize Scripture as well.

Victory comes as we depend on God’s power. The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted (Matthew 4:1). After his experience, the angels ministered to him (Matthew 4:11). If Jesus needed God’s power to be victorious, what makes us think we can face the enemy on our own?

Jesus’ victory over Satan reveals a four-part strategy for resisting temptation. We should:

  • Resist the devil
  • in the power of the Spirit
  • through the guidance of the Word
  • to accomplish the will of God

 

 

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