We come today to the conclusion of our series of messages on the temptations of Jesus Christ. Last time we began a look into the third temptation as it is recorded for us in Matthew 4:8-11. Please open your Bibles and read the passage to reacquaint yourself with it.
Last time we saw that Satan comes at last before Christ with, so to speak, a compromise. So to speak, he is saying to the Lord, “I see that You intend to go the way of suffering for the salvation of the children of God given to you. I see that You are firmly committed to that. I want You to know that I’m willing to concede. You have come to establish a kingdom. All right. Let’s cut a deal. I only ask that You bow down to me this one time and I will give to You whatever You want. This kingdom, You don’t need to get it in the way of suffering. I am willing to give it to You.”
At that time, you will remember, we looked into the Scriptures and saw that the devil is a liar. He is a great deceiver. We saw, also, that the devil’s intention is that the Son be disobedient to the Father.
Now we need to look closely today at the answer that Jesus gave. A very simple answer: “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”
In this answer, once again, Jesus is quoting from the Scriptures. This time, Deuteronomy 6:13. There Moses is rehearsing the fundamental law of the covenant people of God in the land of Canaan. There Moses is telling the people of Israel that there was to be one thing right and one thing good for them, namely, the first commandment of the Law of God. God is to be worshiped alone. The Bible says that God is alone God, and that God, therefore, must be worshiped, and that this is the great duty and need of man. That is all that is needed. It is not complex. There is no gray area here. It is as plain and simple as the sun in the heavens. God is God alone. He is the only true God, the God of the Bible, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. All others are idols, vain and worthless, the imaginations of men. And this living, true God revealed in Scripture is to be loved, worshiped, obeyed, and honored.
So Jesus is saying, “Bow down to you? Worship you? Strike a compromise with you? Acknowledge that you have at least a little part of recognition in My heart? That is blasphemy, Satan! The first commandment of the Law of God declares that God is the only God and must be served with all My heart, with all My soul, with all My strength, with all My being. And if this living and true God has said to the Christ that it is in the pathway of suffering and obedience whereby salvation will be earned for His children, then I shall obey Him. I shall follow the path whereby I shall save the people of God – the pathway of obedience. As for you, get thee hence, Satan.”
The word “Satan” means adversary, opponent, the one who is at enmity with God, the one whose enmity can never be covered, can never be erased. It must be crushed. So, using the name Satan, Jesus highlights that there can never be an agreement, there can never be a compromise between Him and Satan, there can never be a give-and-take. He will accept nothing from the evil one and He will give nothing to him. There is no way they can serve the same ends. There is no way to make a merger between evil and good, between Satan and Christ.
Now our Lord is saying to you and to me, “You cannot find a compromise. You cannot hold to both. You cannot make an agreement between holiness and evil.” II Corinthians 6:14, 15: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?”
The world comes to us the same way that the devil came to Christ. The world comes and says, “All right, you’re a Christian and go to church. You believe the Bible. That’s nice. I’ll give you that. And I don’t want to interfere with your religious convictions. That’s very important to you, so I’m going to honor your religious beliefs. But will you just steal at the office, or turn your eye? Will you commit fornication with me just once? Will you lie? Will you skip worship services just once, oh, just once! for the Christmas party, for the New Year’s party? Will you do that for me?”
What is the answer of the Savior? “Get thee hence. Go away, Satan! Don’t call Me your friend. Don’t talk about a merger. God alone is to be worshiped. God alone is the God of My life. You say to Me, pick and choose. You say to Me, disregard commandments at certain occasions when they are inconvenient. Disregard the first commandment just once, just a little. That’s the only thing that stands in the way of my happiness. Then all these temptations will go away. The battle against sin will be over if I just concede a little bit to you. This is My answer, Satan: Get thee hence!” The Lord will not even entertain the thought. It was abhorrent to Him. The answer was simple. The answer was decisive.
Then the devil leaveth Him, we read, and “behold, angels came and ministered unto him.” The fact that the devil did as Christ commanded certainly settles the question of whose is the power and the authority. Jesus said to him, “Get thee hence,” and he goes.
Now that does not mean that the temptations are over. Christ is going to be tempted of the devil throughout His earthly course of life and at every turn of the way. Sometimes the devil is even going to use the disciples of the Lord as instruments of temptation. Remember a little later that Christ refers to Peter in the words, “Get thee hence, Satan.” Peter had been trying to dissuade Him from going the way of suffering and the cross. Peter had said to Him, after the Lord had explained that He must go the way of suffering, “Not so, Lord. This shall not be unto Thee.” And the Lord responds very emphatically to Peter: “Peter, get thee hence, Satan. Thou savorest not the things that be of God.” So the devil will continue to tempt. But for now Satan goes away. For God’s purpose has been revealed. The Word of God spoken, remember, in the baptism of the Lord by John in the Jordan River has been shown to be true: “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. This is the Christ who stands in the way of obedience, who is committed to the way of perfect obedience. And no one and nothing can divert Him from the work that He has come to do.”
So we read that angels came and ministered to Him.
What did these angels do? Well, He was hungry. Remember that we read “and when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered.” It is very possible that they gave to Him what was needed in His real humanity. But we know that angels who stood by the throne of God were sent from the throne and they attended Him. We read in the book of Hebrews: “Let all the angels of God worship him.” They ministered, perhaps, also to His soul, encouraging Him and speaking to Him of the glory that would be His in the way of obedience and suffering.
We have from these temptations and from this third temptation some very important and lasting lessons – lessons for our temptations as well. The lessons are these.
First of all, we have a great High Priest who is able to help us and to help all those who come to God through Him. Hebrews 2:18, “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” Hebrews 7:25, “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” We have a sympathetic High Priest who is able to succor us. That word “succor” is a compound word in the original – the words “shout” and “run.” One who shouts out words of encouragement as he is running to the side of one who is in need. Mothers, your child who is out at the end of the driveway, or down the block, or in the middle of the road, is hurt, perhaps hit by a car and writhing in pain. You go out and you shout, “Brenda, it’s all right. It’s OK. You’ll be all right. I’m coming.” And you run to her aid. No one is actually there yet. But the shout of your voice comforts and helps and aids. That is succor. Christ and His people, in the moment of their need. His word runs out to us: “Look unto Me. Peace be still. Be not afraid, it is I. I am with you. I will never fail you or forsake you.”
The Savior has been in a moment of temptation. He has come under the buffeting of Satan. He has wrestled with the devil’s twisted words and insinuations and suggestions. Now He reigns over all things.
Yes, He permits Satan to tempt us, to fit His perfect plan and way. So difficulties come. In the days of our flesh evil suggestions come to us, disappointments, allurements unto sin, the sweetness of sin (apparently) is presented to us, but He is able to succor us. He is able to sustain us in this battle. He is able to reveal to you His power and glory. When we begin to fall, when we begin not to give glory to God, perhaps we become bitter and say to someone else, “But you don’t understand what I’m going through.” Then the Word of God comes. That Word of God comes to us in every situation. It comes to us through faith. It says to us, “I am thy God, I am thy Savior, I will bear thee up. Look unto Me.”
Another lesson is this. Many times temptations assume this form, namely, that we will get something good and pleasurable if only we yield a little bit. That is not so! Because Satan and sin’s promises are never true. Sin and Satan are a big con job. Satan and sin have no power to give you good, happiness, good feelings about yourself, a life, or anything else. Satan is a liar. He hates you. He does not want to do you good. He wants you ruined in hell. Nevertheless, he tells us, “You know, you’re really missing out. You’re not getting the thrills of drugs and drinking. Drugs and drinking, you know, can give such a thrill, such joy. You’re not getting the approval of the crowd. You’re not enjoying illicit sex. You’re not getting the rush out of beating the system: the tax laws, the speed laws. You’re missing out. What would just one or two times hurt?”
But, you see, the devil never comes up with the goods. Oh, he gives the sex, the booze, the ungodliness. But happiness, peace, fulfillment? Where? When? Where in the world do you find that? This is the reality of what he gives: wasted bodies; scarred souls; messed up kids; twisted, selfish minds; ruined families; confusion; anger; rage; death and hell. That is what he gives. Ask yourself when you are tempted to sin: “Has that sin given you what it promised?” Ask, “What has been the result of that sin?” And wise up when the little voice says to you, “Oh, but it will be different for you. Oh, you’re the exception.” The devil is a liar.
Learn from Christ. God’s ways are good. Obedience is good. Obedience is eternal life for us through Jesus Christ. God gives all that He promises and He gives more. In the way of sexual purity He gives a faithful husband. He makes you an honest employee. He gives you respectful children. He makes you a faithful church member. God promises blessing from His storehouse and He delivers those blessings. He bestows joy and peace in the soul. Do you experience these things?
Have you ever been conned? That is a horrible feeling when you have been taken and you say, “Never again. I’m not going to be taken again by that guy.” That is what sin is doing to you. Satan is saying to you, “Live for right now.” He is saying to you that the sexual jokes and slang, the ways of sin and license – they are all good. He is saying to you, “Your wife just doesn’t understand you. Oh, but that other woman over there, she would. You would be so happy with her. You would be happy if you would have a new house. You would be happy if you get a new couch. If you have these earthly things, they will make you happy.” Do you believe him? Do you buy into that? Do you think you are too smart for the con artist? You are not. God says, “I will give to you peace and joy in your soul.” Cleave to the Word of God so that you are not deceived.
How clear is our calling in the light of the first commandment. To determine the Christian’s calling in this world is not difficult. So often we hear people saying, “Well, we don’t know what God wants for us. We just wonder. We are just confused.” The way of the Christian, in the light of the first commandment, is not confusing. Worship the Lord your God. And what a blessing when that gets into your head and into your heart. God is to be worshiped by you. That is good and peace. All of your love, your trust, your obedience, your being is to go out in honor to Him. That delivers from materialism, from fornication, from greed. And that clothes you, gives you peace and joy.
So the lesson of the temptations of Christ is this: serve the Lord thy God. The lesson is: the victory is ours in Jesus Christ. Satan wants to be worshiped. He is an egotist. He wants someone to serve him. We will not. Not because by nature we would not, but because, by the grace of God, we serve the One who is the true and blessed King forever – the Lord Jesus Christ.
We follow the Lord Jesus Christ by His grace. We embrace Him. We say, “What a Savior! What a victory we have in Him! He is able to keep us.”
The word to you today is: Live out of Him. Live to His glory. And you shall live and reign with Him forever. For Satan’s doom is sure.
What was the upshot of these temptations of the devil upon Christ? Let me read you how it turned out. “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”
The outcome for Christ? Christ has ascended up into heaven. And there He was greeted with shouts: “Now is come salvation and the power of our God.” For the blood of Christ, His perfect obedience, has earned for us eternal life.
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for Thy holy and blessed Word. Write it upon our hearts. Give to us faithfulness to Thee. Deliver us from temptation. Lead us not in the way of evil. And give us this assurance: For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.