************ Sermon on Luke 4:1-13 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on February 21, 2016
"The Temptation of Jesus - Conclusion"
A number of years ago a newspaper story told of a man who picked up a beautiful rock from a North Carolina stream bed and used it as his cabin doorstop. Years later a geologist who was hiking in the area stopped at the cabin and noticed the doorstop, which he immediately recognized as a huge lump of gold. In fact, it proved to be one of the largest gold nuggets ever found east of the Rockies.
Do you realize that many Christians are the same way with temptation: they do not recognize the temptations that are right in front of them. There are at least three reasons for this spiritual blindness. First, the Bible indicates that the fall of man into sin has clouded man's ability to distinguish evil from good (2 Cor 4:4; 1 Jn 2:11).
Second, Satan does his best to dress up evil as good, to hide the truth of sin, in order to confuse and blind us to its danger. Satan never told Adam and Eve that they would be sinning against God; rather, he told them they would be like God. Likewise, Satan never told Jesus how wrong it would be to bow down in worship; rather, he showed Jesus the authority and splendor of the kingdoms of the world that would be His.
Third, you need to realize the world bombards us with temptation everyday and all day long. Thousands of temptations are held before us every day on the TV, on the internet, in emails, on bill-boards, in the newspaper. There are so many of them that we no longer see them for what they are. We become oblivious to their presence and blind to their danger.
We need to know how to recognize temptation, congregation. You can't resist and fight what you don't know and recognize.
I Recognizing Temptation
A So, what is temptation? How do we recognize it? What are its distinguishing features? We can view temptation in terms of Satan, in terms of God, and in terms of man.
First, we can look at temptation in terms of Satan. Our Bible reading clearly identifies Satan as the source of Christ's temptations. We know that no temptation ever comes from God:
(James 1:13) When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone ...Temptation comes from Satan.
We know that Satan is a liar and a murderer. He is a deceiver and a thief. Thus, whatever comes from Satan is going to be sinful. Satan never moves people to act righteous and holy. He may prompt us to put on the appearance of righteousness, but he never promotes righteousness itself. What comes from God is good and perfect. What comes from Satan is evil and wicked.
Temptation thrives on falsehood, deception, and evasion. Temptation and truth are never found together. But temptation and half-truths are. Same with temptation and evasion. And temptation and falsehood. Temptation is always very selective about the facts it reveals. Temptation tells men what they want to hear. As we see with Adam & Eve in the Garden, it makes the negative consequences of sin appear minimal while extolling its positive consequences. It promises the knowledge of good and evil, and it denies the penalty of death. So, temptation involves lies.
Quite often Satan wraps up his temptations in biblical language. He gives it the appearance of godliness and righteousness. For instance, Satan quoted Psalm 91 when he tempted Jesus to jump from the highest point of the temple. Yet, there is nothing godly or holy about what he suggests. Temptation can look and sound Biblical.
Don't forge that Satan's main goal is to stop God's plan for our salvation. So Satan tempted Jesus to gain the authority and splendor of the kingdoms of the world not by going the way of the cross and the grave but by the worship of Satan. Later, Satan tried the same temptation through Peter. Jesus had spoken about His coming suffering and death in Jerusalem. Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!" Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men" (Mt 16:21-23). Do you know what Peter was proposing? He was proposing a diversion from Jesus' calling and ministry as the Suffering Servant. Satan did not want Jesus to suffer and die for our sins. So, through Peter, he tempted Jesus not to go the way of the cross. Temptation tries to stop God's plan of salvation.
B Second, we can look at temptation in terms of God. Temptation is the proposal of any act which contradicts the will of God. It was God's will that Jesus endure hunger; so Satan's proposal to turn stones into bread was a temptation. God's will is that He and He alone be worshiped and served; so Satan's proposal to bow before Satan was a temptation. God's will is that we do not put the Lord our God to the test, as Israel did at Massah; so Satan's proposal to jump from the highest point of the temple was a temptation. In each and every case, what Satan proposed was contrary to the will of God.
God loves us and cares for us in Christ. Satan often seeks to motivate disobedience by creating doubt about the goodness and care of God. If God is a God of love, why is there so much pain and hurt in the world? If God is a God of love, why is my loved one dying? If God is a God of love, why is ISIS in existence? If God is a God of love, why is Vladimir Putin still in power? In the first temptation, Satan wants Jesus to question the goodness of God: If I am the beloved Son of God, why am I so hungry. In the third temptation, Satan wants Jesus to test the love and goodness of God: If I am the beloved Son of God, I should be able to leap from the highest point of the temple and God will keep me from all harm.
C Third, we can look at temptation in terms of man. Satan tempts man to satisfy a need or a desire in a way that is displeasing to God. Satan used our Lord's hunger, hoping that Jesus would satisfy it in a way that would be sinful. Satan attempted the same thing in the second temptation, hoping that Jesus would be willing to get His kingdom by unbiblical means.
Temptation encourages man to seek his own interests, to act on his own behalf, to be independent and self-reliant.
Temptation proposes a short-cut to reach our goals. Jesus was supposed to gain a kingdom by means of the cross and the grave; Satan proposed that He gain a kingdom simply by bowing before Satan in worship. Like a huckster at the County Fair, temptation always seems to offer a big prize for a small price. But there is always a higher, hidden cost.
Temptation always demands haste. It wants you to act right now, immediately, hastily, without proper thought, with no time for prayer, with no opportunity to seek the counsel of others. Every act which Satan held before our Lord demanded immediate action.. Our Lord was to command stones to become bread now. He was to bow down before Satan in worship now. He was to jump from the highest point of the temple now. When it comes to doubt and temptation, Satan insists on the here and now.
II Fighting Temptation
A The book of Hebrews tells us Jesus "has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin" (Heb 4:15). The book of 2 Peter describes Lot as a righteous man who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men; he was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard (2 Pet 2:7-8). Telling us what? Telling us that it cannot be sinful to be tempted. Reminding us that it is what we do with temptation that can become a matter of sin.
With that in mind, I want to go from recognizing temptation to fighting temptation.
B Let's go back to Jesus. According to Hebrews, Jesus was made like us, His brothers and sisters, "in every way" (Heb 2:17). Not different than us. Not better than us. Now, let me remind you that as made by God, we had no sin, no guilt, no sinful nature. So for Jesus to be made like us does not include original sin with its guilt and sinful nature. As already mentioned, Hebrews says Jesus was tempted as we are (Heb 4:15). As we have been going through the three temptations of the Lord, I have shown you how Satan tempts us in the same way as he tempted Jesus.
So Jesus is like us. And Jesus was tempted as we are. Yet, He was without sin. Do you realize what this tells us? This tells us no temptation is beyond our ability to resist.
Think about your temptations and struggles. Are you tempted by lust and pornography (don't think for a moment that I am only talking to guys here)? Is your struggle with drugs or alcohol? Is your struggle with obeying authority? Is your struggle with covetous desires and materialism? Is your struggle with jealousy and anger and hatred? Are you tempted to tell lies and spread gossip? Is your temptation with money?
Whatever your temptation, the temptations of Jesus tell you it is not beyond your ability to resist. Keep in mind the words of Paul to the church at Corinth:
(1 Cor 10:13) No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
Perhaps your excuse is, "I'm only human." So was the Lord Jesus when it came to fighting off sin and Satan and temptation. Yet, He fought and He resisted and He won.
C I directed your attention in an earlier message to the last verse of our Bible reading:
(Lk 4:13) When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.Our Lord emerged victorious over sin and temptation. But this does not mean Satan quit trying. This does not mean Satan gave up. If there is one good thing we can say about Satan, it is this: he never gives up; he always keeps trying.
I already mentioned how Satan tempted Jesus through Peter not to go the way of the cross and the grave (Mt 16:21-23). It was Satan who attacked Jesus through the rejection of His own family and friends. It was Satan who tempted and tested Jesus through the attacks of the teachers of the law. It was Satan who tempted Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane as He struggled with drinking the cup of suffering and wrath (Lk 22:39-44).
What happened to Jesus also happens to us. Satan never gives up. He keeps on attacking. He keeps on tempting. He keeps on luring. So we always need to be vigilant. We always need to be on guard. We cannot afford to fall asleep lest Satan creep up on us and catch us unawares.
D Look at the temptations faced by Jesus: to turn stones into bread, to bow before Satan, to test God. I've been telling you how these temptations are similar to what we face. Quoting from Paul I can safely tell you, congregation, that "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man" (1 Cor 10:13). No temptation is unique. Every temptation which you will ever face has been faced before -- many, many times before. Even the temptations of our Lord were not unique. For each temptation that He faced, our Lord found a parallel in the history of Israel.
Do you know the number of times people try to tell me their situation and temptation are unique? That I cannot understand? That no one understands? That if I was in their situation I would commit the exact same sin?
No temptation is unique. It has been faced before. So, congregation, look at how Jesus and the saints faced their temptations. Learn from them. Imitate them. And be victorious over sin and Satan and temptation.
E Remember what temptation is? Temptation is the proposal of any act which contradicts the will of God. So, what is the opposite of temptation? The opposite is the proposal of any act which is right in the sight of God. The Bible actually has a word for this. Anyone have any idea what the word is? It is the word "exhortation." The author of Hebrews identifies his letter, for instance, as a "word of exhortation" (Heb 13:22).
There are lots and lots of words of exhortation in the Bible. All of them designed to keep us from falling into temptation. All of them designed so we would do what is right in the sight of God.
(Heb 2:1) We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.I can list hundreds of others.
(Heb 4:1) Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.
(Phil 2:3-4) Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. (4) Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
It is our calling, as brothers and sisters in Christ, to exhort one another. It isn't only the job of the elders. We all are called to stand alongside each other, to build up one another, to warn and admonish one another about sin, to urge each other to pursue the path of righteousness.
If you remember, Luke wrote his gospel to Theo-philus -- a high Roman official who served God. Luke wrote his gospel so Theophilus would be certain of the things he has been taught about Jesus Christ.
The temptations show Theophilus -- and us -- that Jesus is the sinless One Who is more than qualified to be our Savior and Lord. The temptations show us Jesus is truly the Lamb of God, without blemish or spot, Who is able to take away the sins of the world. He recognized the tempter's lure and He resisted and He won. And, in Christ, so can we!
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