Matthew 4: 1-11
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 ministered to him.
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Jesus. God Himself in human flesh. The Savior. The Author and Finisher of our faith. And did I mention, God Himself?
Not exactly who we think of when we think about facing temptation, is it? But the temptations that Jesus faced in the wilderness set the example for us so that we could face any temptation and still emerge the victor. The key is in how we face those temptations, and there is no better example than this passage from Matthew 4.
But to understand this, we need to consider the incarnation of Jesus Christ. The fact that He is forever fully God and fully man leads us to ask a question about the temptation that Jesus experienced in the wilderness.
Did Jesus face His temptation as God or as man?
This matters. A lot. Because if He acted in His capacity as God during His temptation, then what chance do we, mere humans, have to be victorious in the face of temptation? But if He acted in His capacity as a man, then we also have the same power available to us to face temptation and honor God in our victory.
So what is this power to win over temptation? To understand from the Scriptures, we need to back up into Matthew chapter 3 a few verses.
Matthew 3: 13-17
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, ”Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.
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.”
You see, the key to winning the battle against temptation is to rely on the same power, the Holy Spirit, that Jesus relied on when He was tempted. The strange yet beautiful truth is that Jesus did not overcome Satan as God, but as a man anointed with the power of God through the Holy Spirit!
Had He asserted His power as God, then when He asks us to overcome the devil, we could respond, “Sure, it’s easy for you to say it. You’re God. Don’t expect me to do what You did.” Jesus didn’t ”pull rank” on us. Instead, God anointed Jesus as a man to do what we, as humans, can also do by His anointing.
You and I have what we need to face any temptation. For we are in Christ, and He is in us.
Remember, you have the same Father to call upon and the same Word of God to use against the enemy. You do not have to yield, give up, or give in. Instead, you can have the victory over him, just as Jesus did.
“Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.”