Today’s reading is Matthew 4.
As I mentioned in my previous writing 2 weeks ago, one of the big “ah-ha’s” for me as I became an adult was when it really hit me that Jesus was tempted, just like us and as we see in this writing, but was the only human to live without sin, yet died on the cross to take our place. As new small group members some years ago, there was a couple in our group who seemed to talk constantly about Satan and his temptations in their lives and the lives of others around them. They talked about it so much that it my wife and I found it awkward and thought they were really kind of out there. Not that we didn’t acknowledge Satan is real because if you acknowledge God is real you have to acknowledge Satan is real, but we just felt they were a little over the top about how much Satan interjects and they talked about it. However, as we have matured in our faith, we completely understand it now.
A few weeks ago, I was in a restaurant speaking with a friend who is really struggling to believe God is real and is struggling with other things in his life. We had been talking for over an hour and although there was much activity in the restaurant he was locked in on me, keeping eye contact the entire time. As I began to make a very strong and direct witness to him to the point that you could feel the intensity building in the conversation and I began to tell him we all have a God-shaped hole in our hearts only He can fill, “BAM!!” a worker dropped a trash can right in the middle of my sentence and he lost all focus on what I was saying. A few years ago, I would have said that’s crazy and this was just coincidence, but I now believe that was Satan interjecting. You’ll hear similar stories during conversions from other believers and pastors if you ask them.
I find it very interesting in Matthew 4:3 Satan is called “the tempter.” God did not have to use this terminology. This was very intentional. That’s what Satan does. He tempts. That’s who he is. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” If he tried to tempt Jesus 3 times here in a short period of time, you can bet he’s going to be tempting us. In fact, it is my humble opinion that he tries to tempt those of outspoken faith and belief the most because that is a huge win for him if he gets us to sin, especially when others find out about it about it. It does a lot of damage when a pastor, elder, small group leader, or strong believer sins and it becomes known by many. He loves this. People expect a known and public repeat sinner to sin so that is not a big win to Satan when they sin again.
How do we avoid falling into Satan’s traps and temptations?
- Acknowledge he’s real and tempting us daily..even by the hour and the minute.
- Stay in prayer and the Word. Expectancy theory says that which you think about expands. If you spend more time with God, you’ll stay close to and be thinking about Him keeping you insulated. Satan knows the Scriptures as we see her, but so did Jesus as we see here in Matthew 4:4, Matthew 4:7, and Matthew 4:10.
- Stay in close community with other believers through church and small group to keep you accountable (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). Consider reading The Resolution for Men and The Resolution for Women with other male or female believers…committing to the Resolution at the end.
- Stay humble and on watch…even as we mature in our faith. If he tried to tempt Jesus, he will tempt us!
Even the Lord’s Prayer tells us to pray “Lead us not into temptation” in Matthew 6:13. Let us put on the armor of God and answer the call today and everyday Timothy gives us in 1 Timothy 6:11-12.
“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”