Tempted By The Devil: Matthew 4:1
“1) Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1
This verse is profound but confusing to our natural mind. I confess, I’ve wrestled with it numerous times. Why would the Spirit of God lead Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil? The answers is complex but important to understand. Let me share a few thoughts on the subject of trials and temptations and try to squeeze some helpful insights from this verse.
First and foremost; tempting is Satan’s primary role in this fallen world. It’s hard to wrap our mind around this point, but tempting is what God uses Satan for in this world. That’s why he is called “the tempter.” He actually fills an important role.
James 1:13 unequivocally states that God cannot be tempted by evil and He Himself does not tempt anyone. At the time of his fall, Satan unwittingly stepped into the role of “tempter.” Be patient with this point, It may need to simmer in your mind for a while. There are many implications behind this point that we do not have time or space to develop.
Second, the words “tempt” and “trials” are the same basic Greek word. An example is the context of James 1:2-18 where both words appear repeatedly. Context actually determines which English word is used. They are often interchangeable. Sometimes it’s nearly impossible to discern if you are being tempted or tested by a trial. Both may be happening.
Third, both trails and temptations are intended to make the Christian stronger. The picture in 1 Peter 1:6-9 is that of refining gold. In the case of trials and temptations, it is our faith that is being refined and strengthened. The bottom line is that faith grows through struggles. What Satan intends to bring us down, God uses to build us up! (See Romans 8:26-30)
Forth, based on the above point, we begin to understand that God turns Satan’s temptations and trials into our ultimate good. God is for us and not against us when we go through the valleys of testing. He wants us to succeed.
Fifth, the good news of Matthew 4:1-11 is that Jesus has walked in your shoes. The book of Hebrews states that Jesus was victories when being tempted in all ways that we are so He can both understand our struggles and come to our aid. (Read Hebrews 4:14-16)
Sixth, when we are tempted, God always provides a way of escape. We are never trapped when in a temptation. (See 1 Corinthians 10:13) God is faithful to us even when we are being tempted. He does not abandon us.
Finally, trials and temptations are intended to draw us closer to God. They reveal our weaknesses and our need for Him. They both stretch us and expose us. They motivate us to cry out to Him.
God uses this present fallen world as boot camp for all people. It will either make us or break us. It is the ultimate testing and training ground. For the Christian, the struggles of this life can be used to refine, strengthen, build and transform us into mature, godly and fruitful people for the glory of God. For the non-Christian, this present fallen world can entice, deceive, distract, wound and calcify a bent toward sin and Satan. The same fallen world leads to radically different outcomes and destinies.
But here is the key take away from Matthew 4:1; Jesus not only lived in this present fallen world with all the frailty of humanity, He was also subjected to the tempters most vicious schemes. Satan tried his hardest to bring Jesus down. Jesus not only passed every test, He utterly defeated and destroyed the works of the devil. (1 John 3:7-10) Jesus is therefore able to help you and me in our journey through this life. Embrace Him!
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global