We have a very clear answer within the Bible to: How does Satan tempt us?
Satan knew how important it was for God’s Son to come to the Earth and live in a human body.
So he tried very hard to kill Jesus or derail God’s plan.
At the point Jesus was about to start his preaching and healing ministry, Satan tried his utmost to tempt Jesus away from God’s plan.
We will now look at how Satan tempted Jesus…
Jesus was about to start his public ministry when, in effect, he came to a crossroads with four different routes.
Does Satan tempt us with the same crossroads in our lives:
1. First temptation – Satisfy your bodily needs!
Jesus hadn’t eaten for forty days and Satan said:
If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”Matthew 4:2 NIV
It is quite legal to satisfy our creature comforts.
When we are hungry we eat, when we are tired we sleep, etc.
But Jesus would not be a servant to His human appetite – He would decide when and where or not at all.
A mind dominated by appetite will be overpowered by earthly values and concerns.
That is any appetite – not just referring to food.
Paul wrote to the Philippians,
For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.Philippians 3:19-20 NIV
Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame.
Their mind is on earthly things.
But our citizenship is in heaven.
And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,”
Where was Jesus’ mind?
Was it on earthly things or heavenly things?
Jesus answered the Tempter’s voice:
It is written:Matthew 4:4 NIV
‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ “
He rejected the idea of going down that pathway of putting bodily needs in the first place.
How important is the Word of God to us?
Are we masters of our appetites?
Does Satan tempt us by misusing our desires and appetites?
2. Does Satan tempt us by putting on a show?
In this second temptation, Satan was in effect saying, ‘Put on a show for the benefit of the Kingdom of God! That will make you look good.’
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.Matthew 4:5-6 NIV
‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down.
For it is written: “He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” “
The city would have been packed with people.
Wouldn’t it have been a good opportunity to have put on a show to impress the crowds?
The people would certainly have stopped to watch this exhibition and surely they would have thought about Godly things – wouldn’t they?
No, flamboyant people doing impressive things is not God’s method.
But some will say that you can attract attention through exuberance, confidence, and stylishness
Why not put on a show, and have some hype and razzmatazz to impress the people?
But Jesus was having none of this, he directly answered Satan,
It is also written:Matthew 4:7 NIV
‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ “
The miracles Jesus performed did not consist of hype and razzmatazz, they were:
- a sign to point towards him being the Messiah
- and acts of compassion for people – healing the blind, cleansing the lepers, etc.
They were never a show to impress people.
Sometimes Jesus would tell the one who was suffering, not to tell anyone else.
Many times he would just speak to the sick person and not make huge announcements.
That sort of thing just puffs up pride and God says this about being proud:
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”Proverbs 11:2 NIV
Satan wants to tempt us with anything that will make us proud, that is being proud in a bad way.
In Psychology Today Leon F Seltzer Ph.D. says that pride can be likened to a double-edged sword, with a harmless rubber edge and a destructive, razor-sharp edge. The stinging, razor-edge can easily “cut” others—and therefore injure relationships to the point they’re irreparable. 1
There are two distinct kinds of pride, rather than degrees of pride and unfortunately the English language does not differentiate between them, there’s only one word; ‘pride’.
Jesus again counters what Satan was saying by quoting the wisdom of the Scriptures (the Bible).
If we are not going to waste time wandering along the wrong pathways, then we need to be feeding on God’s Word, the Bible.
3. Third temptation – With riches, I could do things for God!
Just think of what you could do for God with riches, power and influence!
Perhaps you want to be a celebrity, and to be famous?
The Devil took Jesus:
to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour.Matthew 4:8-9 NIV
‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’ “
The world’s kingdoms would provide riches, power and influence.
These are man’s way of doing things.
Think of what God’s way is:
- He chooses the poor people to be His representatives.
- He chooses those without status to proclaim His message.
- And He chooses those who are weak to turn this world upside down!
Remember what Paul said to the Corinthians in his first letter:-
Brothers, think of what you were when you were called.1 Corinthians 1:26-29 NIV
Not many of you were wise by human standards;
not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;
God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things –
and the things that are not –
to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”
So what was Jesus’ response to getting riches, power and influence?
Jesus said to him,Matthew 4:10 NIV
‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” ’ “
If you lust after wealth, power, influence and the splendour of the world, you will have Satan in your heart.
You will unknowingly be bowing down to him.
4. Does Satan tempt us by exaggerating our desires?
Jesus put aside his wants and submitted himself to the Father’s will.
That was Jesus’ whole attitude.
This was the road Jesus took:
Not my will, but Your will be done!”Luke 22:42 NIV
Jesus left the desert where Satan had tempted Him and He began to preach.
He rejected all those temptations and they are the same temptations that we will come up against.
Not my will, but Your will be done!”
References – open in new tabs:
Hand with money image and firework image: thanks to Serif RESOURCE CD.