In Matthew 4, we get to have a front row seat for the titanic battle between Good and Evil that’s been called the Temptation of Christ. As we look at it, we are able to understand some principles that we can apply to the much more common engagements we have in our own lives and minds with the forces of evil.
Watch Out for Vulnerabilities. In verse 2, it says something very simple about the setting and set up for this temptation, “After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.” After fasting for more than a month, who wouldn’t be hungry? What we can learn from this sentence is this, a demonic attack often comes when we are at a weak point physically or emotionally. Alcoholics Anonymous reminds its members that they are vulnerable when they are HALT (hungry, angry, lonely or tired) and that is when we are vulnerable too. The best solution is prevention. We need to put into our schedule those activities and habits that will keep us from being hungry, angry, lonely or tired. If there are deeper issues that keep pushing in those directions, talk to a spirit filled counselor that can help deal with them and be strongly ready for the fight.
Remember, We Have Nothing to Prove. Twice in this passage Satan is quoted as saying to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God . . .” He was challenging the Son of God to prove who He was, to do something that only Jesus could do. Our identity is often an issue in the spiritual battles we face and, as with Jesus, we are tempted to do something to “prove” who we are. We hear the voice of the accuser, “Don’t be a wimp, show them who’s boss.” In other words, be a bully to prove our identity. We hear, “If you were a real entrepreneur, you would take that risk. Just go ahead and jump! You don’t need advice!” In other words, take a dangerous risk just to prove who we are and what we can do. Jesus knew what to do. He refused to take the bait. He knew who He was and He knew that the only one He wanted affirmation from was from His Father God. That is great insight for us. God is the one who establishes our identity. If it is in question, even in our own hearts, turn to Him rather than trying to “prove” anything to anyone through anger or power plays. It simply doesn’t matter who others think we are. Consider Jesus, as the literal Master of the Universe, He took on the appearance of a comparatively powerless human being and still had nothing to prove.
His Words, and Ours, Have Great Power. Finally, Jesus used two weapons very effectively–the Word of God and the word of His mouth. Time after time, when facing powerful temptations, Jesus stated the everlasting, always powerful Word of God. He was ready. He had it memorized and knew how to use it. So should we. In the face of temptation, trial, trouble and attack, our response should be, as Jesus’ was, “For it is written . . .” To do so, we must do what Jesus did, live in the Word and memorize it. The other weapon was simply the words of Jesus. At the end of this period of temptation, Jesus said to Satan, “Away from me, Satan!” Our words have power too! What are we saying to those spiritual attackers when faced with trials and challenges? We have the power to tell them to go back to hell where they came from. WE ARE CHILDREN OF THE MOST HIGH GOD–talk like it! Those around us may think we are strange to “talk to the air” but do it anyway, because our words backed up by His words, have power. And we can always do it in our private prayer closet as well.
Let’s learn from the Champion, Jesus, who faced Satan himself and did not give into one of his deceitful temptations. We can be over-comers as well.