It is no overstatement to say that Jesus is the greatest example of the revelation of God’s grace, character and plans for us. Never did two feet ever grace the shores of the Sea of Galilee like those that later carried a wooden cross through Jerusalem to procure our salvation. During His Life, Jesus faced and conquered the very temptations that you and I face every day. And, by saying “no” to those temptations, Jesus demonstrated for us the opportunity to live a holy life through the power of the Holy Spirit.
In Luke 4, we read of a rather eerie encounter between Jesus, the Lord of life, and Lucifer, a.k.a. Satan, the father of lies. Satan plied his cunning craft on Jesus in an attempt to lure Jesus into fulfilling God’s will in Jesus’ own way rather than God the Father’s. Jesus, however, clung to the truth of His Father’s will and character and overcame Satan’s temptations unscathed. Several lessons can be learned from this passage.
The first lesson we learn is that one must be led by God’s Spirit. In Luke 4:1 we read, “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert,” (NIV). If we are to walk in victory over sinful habits and thought patterns, we must reconcile ourselves to the fact that God asks surrender and trust of us. We become more sensitive to the Lord as we continuously wash our minds by studying and applying the principles found in the Bible. Prayer also enables us to draw closer to God.
A second lesson we discover is that God provides for our needs. In Luke 4:3-4 we read of Satan’s first temptation. We read: The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.'” One of the most insidious temptations is that of trying to meet our needs apart from God’s ordained will. God knows what is best for us and He knows the plans He has for us (Jer. 29:11). He also knows that our physical needs are important. But Jesus illustrated the fact that our needs are ultimately met by God and not by our own resources apart from Him.
Third, we also discover that God’s will is accomplished by His means, not our own. Satan’s second temptation came in the form of enticing Jesus into accomplishing the Father’s will by other means (vs. 5-7). Jesus was led up to a high place of some sort and was, by natural or supernatural means, shown the various kingdoms of the world. The enticement came when Satan offered to give these kingdoms to Jesus if He would be bow to the supremacy of Satan’s rule of this world. Surely such an offer would have saved Jesus the inconvenience of dying on a cross, so Satan would have argued. But Jesus knew that the way to save the world was by means of the cross rather than by Satan’s offer.
Finally, we learn from Jesus that we must walk with wisdom and discernment, especially in spiritual matters. In verse 9, Satan tempted Jesus yet again by encouraging Him to jump off the pinnacle of the temple and allow God the Father to send angels to catch Him. Such a miracle would certainly win the hearts of the people below, or at least so Satan claimed. Satan even quoted Scripture, albeit out of context, to support his suggestion. But Jesus knew that such a course of action apart from His Father’s will would be unwise and probably catastrophic.
We conquer sinful choices by walking in obedience to God and by trusting in His Spirit to empower us to live a holy life. We also become useful to God in ministering to the needs of others by becoming more like Jesus in our character and attitude. Temptations will come our way but by sifting every decision through the truth of God’s written word, the Bible, and by remaining sensitive to God’s leading, we can make Godly choices rather than wrong ones. Next time you are faced with the temptation to sin, remember that God stands ready to equip you and empower you to say “no” to that sin. Keep your thought life pure by refusing to entertain sinful thoughts and images, focusing your thoughts rather on the truths of God’s word.