Three Levels of Temptation: Matthew 4:3-11
“3) And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 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.’ ” 5) Then the devil *took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6) 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, So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’ ” 7) Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” 8) Again, the devil *took Him to a very high mountain and *showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; 9) and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” 10) Then Jesus *said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’ ” 11) Then the devil *left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭4:3-11‬ ‭
In this text, Satan tempted Jesus three times. Let me make some basic observations that apply to us as well.
First, each temptation was aimed at a different level of the makeup of man. The first temptation recorded in verses 3-4 was aimed at the flesh. This is the seat of physical appetites and drives. The second temptation recorded in verses 5-7 was aimed at the soul. This is the seat of the intellect, emotion and will. The third temptation recorded in verses 8-10 was aimed at the spirit. This is the seat of the conscience and worship. Satan will tempt and seek a foothold on all three levels.
Second, each temptation embodied a seed thought that was based in a degree of truth. The first two temptations started with the phrase and challenge; “If you are the Son of God… prove it.” The second temptation was even wrapped in Scripture. The final temptation offered him lordship over the realm of earth if He would bow down and worship Satan.
Third, Jesus responded to each temptation by quoting Scripture. He effectively used the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God in the face of temptation. The text indicates that He resisted audibly. He spoke the Word! Both James 4:7 and 1 Peter 5:8 says that we are to actively resist the devil. Jesus provides a great example of how to use the Sword of the Spirit and the shield of faith in that process.
Forth, Jesus was victories and withstood each temptation. The war was not over, but the approach Jesus used worked. Submitting to God, standing on Scripture and activity resisting the devil is the proven way to face temptation.
Fifth, after three intense temptations, Satan left him. Luke 4:13 says; “And when the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.” Satan was not done tempting, he was merely plotting and scheming his next move. Ephesians 6:13 says; “Therefore, take up the full amor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything to stand firm.” I guarantee evil moments and future onslaughts of temptation will come!
Temptations seem to come in waves from various sources and at unexpected times. Some are triggered by appetites and hormones, others by random thoughts and emotions and others are disguised as ideas of inspiration. Always be dressed in your armor and never let your guard down.
Finally, according to verse 11, after the devil left Him, angels came and began ministering to Him. This is not coincidence. Times of temptation are often followed by times of grace, growth, blessings, provision or amazing open doors. God is in control and He is providential, yet He allows us to be tested. Become seasoned at the good fight of faith. God is on your side. (See 2 Thessalonians 3:3)
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global