Read Matthew 4:1-4 (ESV)
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.’”
How does knowing the Scriptures help us overcome temptation?
It always amazes me that Jesus fasted for forty days and nights. I can’t even go a couple of hours without wanting a snack! I love to eat! I can’t imagine how hungry Jesus must have been after not eating for well over a month!
But what was the point of Jesus going into the wilderness and fasting? In today’s verses, Matthew makes it pretty clear that Jesus intentionally went there to be tempted by the devil. He knew it was going to happen, He accepted the test, and God used the temptation to establish Jesus’ earthly mission. By not giving into temptation, Jesus demonstrated that He was fully committed to that mission. He was ready to be the perfect Lamb of God that could take away the sins of the world and no one, not even the devil himself, could cause Him to stumble. He was ready and willing to do the will of God. That was why He came to earth in the first place.
It’s important to note that while Jesus was fully God, He was also fully man. He did not use His strength as God to overcome the temptations. He endured and overcame those temptations as a man of flesh. Hebrews 4:15 says: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
How did Jesus overcome the temptations of Satan, especially after being so weak and tired from fasting? By quoting Scripture that directly applied to the situation at hand. Satan’s first tactic was to appeal to Jesus’ power and His rights as the Son of God. Essentially, Satan was saying, “If you really are who you say you are, God’s Son, then why is He allowing You to suffer? Surely it isn’t too hard for you to turn rocks into bread to feed yourself? Surely you have every right as deity to provide for yourself?”
You know, it’s interesting. In addition to tempting Jesus to prove His power, Satan seems to be using a similar tactic to the one he used when he tempted Adam and Eve—attempting to cast doubt on God’s goodness (Why is He holding out on you?) and encouraging humans to reject God’s authority and act according to their own will. In the garden, Adam and Eve had everything they could ever need or want. And yet, when Satan twisted God’s words, they fell for it.
But when Jesus was tempted, He wasn’t in a beautiful garden with everything He needed within arm’s length. Instead, He was starving in a desolate wilderness! And yet, when Satan tried to convince Jesus that God wasn’t providing for Him so He should just provide for Himself, Jesus didn’t buy it. He knew that God has provided us more than just physical sustenance. God has provided for our spiritual needs far beyond what we can even fathom!
Jesus conquered Satan’s first temptation by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3 which says: “And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know, that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.”
Jesus overcame Satan’s temptation by recalling the Word of God and the prior work of God. When the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness after the Exodus, they were hungry. But God did not let them starve to death. He provided food for them that would not have existed if He wouldn’t have spoken it into existence for the very purpose of their provision. Jesus knew that He was totally dependent on the Word of God for His survival, and He didn’t let Satan tempt Him to use His power to serve His own purposes.
Friends, when we are faced with temptations, we can take a page from Jesus’ book. We can recall the Word of God to combat the lies and remember how God has provided in the past so we can trust Him to provide for us now. But in order to do this, we have to know the Word. We have to be getting our “daily bread” if we want it to sustain us and empower us to overcome temptation. Are you getting a steady diet of the Word of God?
Lord, thank You for Your daily provision for me. You have done more than just provide for my physical needs. You have provided abundantly for my spiritual needs. Help me remain committed to filling up on Your Word as my daily bread. Amen.