Outline of the Book:
I. Preface: The Method and Purpose of Writing, Luke 1:1-4.
II. The Identification of the Son of Man with Men, Luke 1:5-4:13.
A. The Temptation of the Son of Man, Luke 4:1-13.
III. The Ministry of the Son of Man to Men, Luke 4:14-9:50.
A. The Announcement of His Ministry, Luke 4:14-30.
B. The Authority of His Ministry, Luke 4:31-6:11.
1. Over demons, Luke 4:31-37.
2. Over disease, Luke 4:38-44.
3. Over the disciples, Luke 5:1-11.
4. Over defilement, (a leper healed), Luke 5:12-16.
5. Over defectiveness, (a paralytic healed), Luke 5:17-26.
6. Over the despised, (the call of Matthew and parables about new vs. old), Luke 5:27-39.
7. Over days, Luke 6:1-5.
8. Over deformity, Luke 6:6-11.
IV. The Associates of His Ministry, Luke 6:12-49.
1. The call of the disciples, Luke 6:12-16.
2. The characteristics of disciples, (The Great Sermon), Luke 6:17-49.
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A. The Temptation of the Son of Man, Luke 4:1-13.
Here we have the narrative of Jesus going into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan directly for forty days and forty nights. This scene is paralleled in Mat 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13.
Luke 4:1, “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness.”
In Luke 3:22, we saw the visible manifestation of the Holy Spirit coming upon our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus being indwelt, filled, and led by the Holy Spirit since the time of His birth, is now beginning His ministry that starts with a thorough process of temptation before He goes out to witness and minister.
Preparation for Ministry
That is a good principle for all of us to realize for ourselves, 1) if we are a new believer, or 2) regarding others that we know are new believers. The principle is: Temptation and overcoming proceeds ministry. Ministry is a very difficult thing on its own, the problems and difficulties that come with it are quite a challenge. In order to overcome the added pressures associate with ministry, we first need to be solid as a Christian regarding our own spiritual walk. If you cannot handle your own temptations and problems with the Spirit and Word, how are you going to be able to minister to others? Therefore, God allows the new believer to go through a series of testing and temptations to show them the power of His Word and Spirit working within their soul. If they are able to pass the tests, then they will be ready for ministry. If they do not, God will continue to work with them in that area, to get them over the hurdle until they are ready for ministry.
As a new believer, you should be patient to go through that process so that you are strengthened and empowered to overcome your own personal challenges and be able to handle the greater rigors of ministry. That is why we are exhorted in Eph 6:10-18, to put on the full armor of God.
Eph 6:10-11, 13, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 13Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”
If a new believer jumps out to soon into ministry, he / she will be easily defeated by Satan because they have not developed the spiritual armor to stand firm in their walk with Jesus Christ.
For the mature believer who has other new believers in their periphery, they need to also be patient with that believer knowing the new born challenges and struggles they will face, and that God is working in their life to bring them to a point of maturity, so that they are effective in a future ministry. This means we are to encourage, exhort, and reprove if necessary in love, to help them grow spiritually and be an overcomer. This takes much patience so as to not discourage them from going forward because of your negative judgmental or demeaning manner. That is, running them down because of their sins or failures. We need to give new believers much grace and privacy of the priesthood, so that they have room to learn and grow, which many times includes failure and sinning, due to set backs, yet all the while learning what is holy and righteous. And remember, God is constantly working in their lives, so give them space to grow and God to work, but keep close enough so that they do not fall away, all-the-while, having great love and patience.
Gal 6:1, “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.”
Filling of the Holy Spirit
Now, back in Luke 4:1, at this time, Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit,” PLERES HAGIOS PNEUMA. PLERES, πλήρης is a Greek Adjective that means, “filled, full, complete, or perfect.” In Chapter 3, we saw the visible manifestation of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Now, we see the use or exercise of the power of the Holy Spirit. In other words, to be full of or filled with the Holy Spirit means His power is working within us completely and perfectly.
Remember that Jesus was the prototype of the unique spiritual life of the Church Age believer. In Luke 3:22 and now in 4:1, we are seeing the demonstration of that unique spiritual life which is the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit with the subsequent filling of the Holy Spirit. We see this in the very early Church in the selection of the Deacons in Acts 6:3-8.
Acts 6:3, “Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task.”
Of the several chosen, we see Stephen later applying the filling of the Holy Spirit when he was being stoned to death in Acts 7:55. Then, we have the example of the great evangelist Barnabas who was “full of the Holy Spirit,” Acts 11:24. This “filling” is the basis for Paul’s encouragement to the Church in Eph 5:18, to be “filled with the Holy Spirit.” We also noted in Luke 1:15, that the OT saint, the evangelist John the Baptist, was filled with the Holy Spirit, as part of the enduement of the Spirit for a select few OT saints. All of these are speaking about the working influence and power of the Holy Spirit within the soul of the believer.
Confession of Sin to be Filled with the Holy Spirit, i.e., Rebound.
As you know, this filling is not permanent for the believer, it can come and go. That is why Paul stated in Eph 5 not to get drunk with wine, which is a sin, but to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Even though every Church Age believer is permanently indwelt with the Holy Spirit, if the believer enters into sin, (e.g., drunkenness), he is not filled with the Holy Spirit and is instead either grieving or quenching the Holy Spirit, the latter meaning long term sinning.
So, how is one filled with the Holy Spirit? Some would like to think all you need to do is stop sinning and think godly once again. Well that is a start but it does not accomplish filling. To truly be “filled with the Spirit” a believer must also confess any known sins to God the Father according to 1 John 1:8-10.
1 John 1:8-10, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.”
If we only had vs. 8 and 10, we could say, just stop sinning and think Godly once again, or as some say, change your heart. But, with the inclusion of vs. 9, we have to also confess our known sins to God the Father. In a careful analysis of Eph 5 compared to 1 John, we see the correlation to walking in the Light and walking in fellowship with God, and avoiding the darkness (i.e., sin). 1 John is absolutely written to and for believers. This is not a passage written to unbelievers for Salvation; see our website for several doctrines that explain this. Therefore, in a careful study of Eph 5 and 1 John, we understand that in order to be “full of the Spirit” or have the “filling of the Holy Spirit,” the believer must “confess,” HOMOLOGEO, “confess, profess, admit, acknowledge, etc.,” his sins to God, so that he is cleansed experientially from “all unrighteousness,” which includes the known sins confessed and the unknown sins committed that are not or cannot be confessed. When confession happens, God “forgives,” APHEIMI, and “cleanses,” KATHARIZO, the soul of the believer so that the Holy Spirit can fill it, which means, lead, guide, and protect it in righteousness.
This confession of sin is not just a NT doctrine. It was well known and applied by the OT Saints too, although with differing effect, because they did not have the permanent indwelling nor the filling of the Holy Spirit, cf. Psa 32:5; 38:13; Prov 28:13.
Psa 32:5, “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”; and You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.”
Prov 28:13, “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.”
These too are passages for believers only! Not salvation passages!
Now, Jesus never sinned in His life, so He never had to confess any sins. He was sinless or impeccable, i.e., without sin. Therefore, He was always “full of the Holy Spirit,” meaning He always walked by the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit, in fellowship with God, and in the Light. In His life, He demonstrated the application of the power of the filling of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life.
That is why the second half of vs. 1, says He was, “led around by the Spirit in the wilderness.” This leading is what the Holy Spirit does for the believer who has confessed their sin until that believer sins again. The Spirit guides him in the learning and application of the Word of God. He helps him to understand Bible doctrine and apply it to the temptation or situation he is in, so that the believer will not give in or give over to sin and lose his fellowship with God temporarily. Being “full of the Spirit” means we let the Holy Spirit lead our thinking so that we make good decisions and do not succumb to sin and temptations, while maintaining our fellowship with God and further developing our personal relationship with Him.
“Wilderness,” is the Adjective EREMOS, ἔρημος that literally means, “desert, wilderness, grassland, or desolate,” but figuratively it means, “in the presence of the world and sin.” We would say, “Satan’s cosmic system.” This word was also used for the place of John the Baptist’s ministry, Luke 3:2, 4. So, we see that Jesus was literally out in the isolated regions of Israel, and from the next verse, that He was tempted to sin by Satan directly for forty days and forty nights, culminating in the final three temptations recorded in vs. 3-12; cf. Mat 4:1.
Mat 4:1, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”
This is part of the understanding of Heb 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”
Cf. Heb 2:18, “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”
Therefore, we understand that Jesus was tempted in many ways and fashions during the forty days and forty nights; in ways we do not know or can imagine, other than the last three noted in Luke and Matthew. But in all, due to His total and complete reliance upon God the Holy Spirit to lead, guide, and protect Him, He did not sin; not even once. We too can resist the temptations of our own Old Sin Nature, Satan, and His cosmic system if and when we rely upon the filling of God the Holy Spirit.
The three categories of Jesus’ temptations are: 1) Appetite, 2) Beauty, and 3) Ambitious pride. John calls them in 1 John 2:16, “For all that is in the world, 1) the lust of the flesh, and 2) the lust of the eyes, and 3) the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world (Satan’s cosmic system).”
We will discuss these in application to Jesus and to us below.
Luke 4:2, “For forty days, being tempted by the devil.”
This should have been part of vs. 1, as it is in Matthew’s Gospel. “Tempted” is the Verb PEIRAZO, πειράζω that means, “try, attempt, put to the test, tempt, entice to sin.”
In this scenario, the term has a double meaning.
1. Jesus was “tempted” by Satan to prove His Divine Sonship by accepting the devil’s challenge. Satan is called “the Tempter” in Mat 4:3; 1 Thes 3:5.
From this we see that Satan, acting like our OSN, tried to challenge our Lord from time to time, to see if He would hold true to His sonship, (i.e., fellowship), with God, just as we are tempted to see if we will hold on to our sonship or fellowship with God. If we do not give over to temptation, we do not enter into sin and temporarily lose our fellowship with God. Like Jesus, with the power or filling of the Holy Spirit and the full armor of God, we can stand firm and not give over to the temptations of our OSN or Satan and his cosmic system.
2. From God’s point of view, this “testing” proved the complete loyalty and obedience of Jesus to the will of His Father. Thus, Satan saw the “temptation” as an attempt to defeat Jesus; Jesus, however, defeated the Tempter through His obedience to the Father.
We do not defeat Satan by “rebuking” him, which is a fallacy, cf. Jude 1:9. Instead, we defeat him by being filled and led by God the Holy Spirit, as it is truly He who does the defeating with the Word of God, the mind of Jesus Christ, resident within your soul.
Now, as we will see and study in more detail below, in vs. 3-12, we are shown three categories of the types of temptations Satan used against Jesus, as he also uses them against the believer, cf. 1 John 2:16; Gen 3:6. These are the three categories Satan tempted the woman in the Garden of Eden, and John warns us against. I call the three categories, 1) Appetite, 2) Beauty, and 3) Ambitious pride. John calls them in 1 John 2:16, “For all that is in the world, 1) the lust of the flesh, and 2) the lust of the eyes, and 3) the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world (Satan’s cosmic system).”
We will discuss these in application to Jesus and to us below.
In the second half of vs. 2, we have, “And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry.” “Became hungry,” shows us the humanity of Jesus Christ that is weak and frail, which is the part of the hypostatic union that can be tempted.
Hypostatic union means: In the person of the incarnate Christ there are two natures, Divine and human, inseparably united without mixture or loss of separate identity, without loss or transfer of properties or attributes, the union being personal and eternal. From the time of the virgin birth and forever, our Lord Jesus Christ has been and always will be undiminished Deity and true humanity in one person forever. Therefore, it is orthodox to refer to Christ as a theanthropic (the God-man) person. The two natures are united forever without transfer of attributes, so that Jesus Christ is true humanity and undiminished Deity in one person forever, cf. John 1:1-2, 14; Rom 1:3-5; 9:5; Phil 2:5-11; Heb 1:3; 2:14; 1 John 1:1-3.
John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Rom 9:5, “… and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.”
Having a human nature, Jesus Christ was able to be tempted. To understand this, we need to understand the doctrines of Kenosis and Impeccability related to Jesus Christ.
The true doctrine of Kenosis says that during our Lord’s 1st Advent, He voluntarily restricted the independent use of His own Divine attributes to satisfy His needs or desires in compliance with the Father’s plan, purpose, and policy for the first Advent. This means that Jesus Christ did not use the attributes of His Divine nature to benefit Himself, to provide for Himself, to glorify Himself, to act independently of the plan of God. Christ voluntarily restricted the independent use of His Divine attributes, but certain functions of Deity continued to function, such as holding the universe together through His omnipotence, Heb 1:3; Col 1:17.
It comes from the Greek Verb KENOO, which means, “to empty oneself or to deprive oneself of a proper function,” cf. Phil 2:7a.
Phil 2:7, “But emptied/deprived, (laid aside His privileges), Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”
Therefore, Jesus Christ gave up the independent exercise of His Divine attributes during His 1st Advent. Yet, He did not give up His Divine attributes; that is a heresy, He gave up the independent use of this to solve His problems, as demonstrated in the reason why He did not turn the stone into bread.
Remember, Heb 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
Because Jesus did not use His Divine attributes to solve His human problems, our Lord’s humanity continued to reside inside the prototype spiritual life under the filling and power of the Holy Spirit in total reliance upon God and Bible doctrine. We call this residing inside of God’s Power System, (GPS). Rather than satisfying His needs by independently using His Deified powers, Jesus relied upon the Filling of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, as Jesus responded to all three temptations by Satan saying, “It is written” or “It is said” vs. 3, 8, 12.
Through the Spirit and the Word, God gave Jesus the same Problem Solving Devices (PSDs) we have available to us today in the spiritual life. Jesus demonstrated the prototype spiritual life; we have the operational type spiritual life. You acquire these PSDs in the same way our Lord did; through the metabolization of Bible doctrine by means of the filling of God the Holy Spirit.
The human nature of Christ was the custodian of the prototype spiritual life. This implies that the human nature of Jesus Christ relied on God and His Word to resist the temptations of Satan. He utilized the power of God the Holy Spirit and Bible doctrine circulating in the stream of consciousness within His human soul.
Even though the humanity of Christ in the hypostatic union was perfect and impeccable (without sin), the Deity of Christ was united with unglorified humanity. While the Deity of Christ was united to a perfect true humanity, He was still subject to temptation, distress, weakness, pain, sorrow, limitation, and to more temptations than we will ever face.
This also tells us of the truth of the humiliation of our Lord during His First Advent. Being God and taking on humanity, whereby He had to rely upon the prototype spiritual life to solve His problems, was true humility in action.
All the temptations that Satan brought against Christ attacked Kenosis, as we will see. This is why these temptations were unique to Christ; He was 100% God, but He chose not to use His Deified powers to solve the problems of His humanity. Instead, He relied upon the Deity of God the Father, The Spirit, and the Word to solve His problems.
Therefore, our Lord Jesus Christ utilized the Divine provisions and PSDs that God the Father provided in the function of His humanity on earth. During the first Advent, Christ depended on the provision and power of the Holy Spirit, the power of Bible doctrine, and the power of the PSDs, and gave up any independent exercise of certain Divine attributes while living among men, as a man, with their human limitations.
The PSDs used by the humanity of Christ were: The Filling of the Spirit, The Faith Rest Drill, Grace Orientation, Doctrinal Orientation, Authority Orientation, A Personal Sense of Destiny, Personal Love for God the Father, Impersonal Love for All Mankind, and Sharing the Happiness of God. (We have two additional PSDs – Rebound and Occupation with Christ.)
Kenosis is based on the fact that the union of the Deity of Christ to unglorified but true humanity is a necessary factor in His humiliation. The doctrine of Kenosis recognizes that during our Lord’s 1st Advent, He voluntarily restricted the independent use of His divine attributes for the execution of God the Father’s plan, will, and purpose for the Incarnation. He did this in compliance with the Father’s plan for the strategic victory of the Angelic Conflict. The plan for the incarnation not only called for the judgment of our sins and the provision of eternal salvation for all members of the human race, but simultaneously for the strategic victory of the Angelic Conflict. This meant that a man, who had no sin of His own, would go to the Cross and be judged for the sins of the entire world, thereby paying the penalty for the sins of all mankind.
Under the true doctrine of Kenosis, our Lord became true humanity in order to fulfill the Father’s plan of salvation, where He voluntarily took on Himself true humanity in order to redeem mankind from sin, in order to propitiate God the Father, and to reconcile mankind to God. Therefore, during the incarnation, Jesus Christ did not even once exercise the independent use of His own Divine attributes either to benefit Himself, to provide for Himself, or to glorify Himself, Phil 2:5-8.
The true doctrine of Kenosis is illustrated by the humanity of Christ in facing evidence testing, Luke 4:3-12; Mat 4:1-10. In all three tests, He utilized the power of the Word provided by the omnipotence of the Father and the power of the Spirit provided in the prototype Divine Power System. The first test especially illustrates the principle.
The false doctrines of Kenosis say Jesus surrendered His omnipotence in various ways. For example:
1. Kenotic theologians hold that the Logos (Jesus Christ), though retaining His Divine self-consciousness and His imminent attributes (holiness, love, and truth), surrendered His relative attributes (omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence).
2. The Gnostic view denies that Christ had a real body or that His body was made of some heavenly substance instead of human flesh.
3. The Lutheran view denies that the incarnation involved any humiliation.
These are not the case. Jesus had all of His Divine attributes all the time; He simply did not use them independently to solve His problems. He used only the omnipotence of the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Luke 4:1-13, also tells us of the Impeccability of Jesus Christ. Impeccability is a doctrine of Christology that recognizes the fact that during the entire course of our Lord’s 1st Advent and forever, our Lord Jesus Christ did not sin, though He was tempted in His humanity and the temptations were real. This means that Jesus Christ was temptable, but He did not sin, meaning He was impeccable. This temptableness is regarding our Lord’s humanity, as Deity cannot be tempted. There are some Latin words or phrases that help us to understand this.
During our Lord’s First Advent, He was NON POSSE PECCARE, meaning, “Not able to sin,” in His Deity, and POSSE NON PECCARE, meaning, “Able not to sin,” in His humanity. The humanity of Christ was temptable but able not to sin. The Deity of Christ was neither temptable nor peccable, (i.e., able to sin). Jesus Christ in hypostatic union was, therefore, temptable but impeccable. The temptations were real, but our Lord was able not to sin.
This is important, because if Jesus had sinned just once, He would have been disqualified from going to the Cross and paying for our sins. But because Jesus was Impeccable, He was qualified to be judged for our sins, because He had no sin of His own. 1 John 3:5, “You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.”
Throughout Jesus’ life He did not sin, though His temptation pressure was a million times greater than the temptation pressure we face. Though He had no Old Sin Nature (OSN) inside to tempt Him, Satan himself tempted Him personally, acting as His OSN. Therefore, our Lord’s temptations were real and far greater than anything we could ever face. After forty days of no food, He was tempted to turn stones into bread. But to do so, He would have had to act independently of the Father’s plan and use His own Deified powers, which He did not do.
Similar to Satan, while Jesus hung upon the Cross, the Pharisees threw railing temptations at Him to ridicule and tempt Him saying in Mat 27:40, “If you are the Son of God, come down and save yourself and us.” He could have done that by using His own power. But He chose to remain on the Cross and to subordinate His own omnipotence to the plan for the incarnation. Therefore, in the power of the Spirit, He was able to endure the Cross and bear our sins.
Therefore, the first Adam was temptable and peccable, i.e., capable of being tempted and capable of yielding to temptation. But our Lord, the last Adam, was able not to sin (because of God’s Power System (GPS) of the filling of the Holy Spirit and Bible Doctrine resident within the soul) and not able to sin (because of Hypostatic Union Deity).
Heb 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”
The union of undiminished Deity and true humanity in one person, plus the fact of His humanity residing in GPS, emphasizes the fact that our Lord Jesus Christ during His First Advent was POSSE NON PECCARE, able not to sin in His humanity, and NON POSSE PECCARE, not able to sin in His Deity. The humanity of Christ was temptable and peccable, but He remained in purity; without sin.
There are two reasons for the perfection of the humanity of Christ.
1. Union with Deity in Hypostatic Union.
2. The humanity of Christ resided continually inside of GPS, relying entirely upon the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit, the sustaining omnipotence of God the Father in logistical grace, and Bible Doctrine, (i.e., “the mind of Christ”), resident within His soul.
Temptation implies the possibility of sin. Because of the humanity of Christ, there was the same potential for sin as with the first Adam in the Garden. However, for both Christ and Adam, temptation had to come from outside of the body, (much stronger) since there was no OSN inside the body.
Jesus Christ as God cannot sin, cannot solicit sin, cannot tempt, or have anything to do with sin except to judge it. Hence, our Lord’s Deity rejected sin, human good, and evil. In Hypostatic Union, not once did our Lord sin, perform an act of human good, or become involved in evil. As true humanity inside the prototype GPS, our Lord was temptable but impeccable.
The importance of the Doctrines of Hypostatic Union, Kenosis, and Impeccability, is the sustaining ministry of God the Holy Spirit to the humanity of Christ. As we have noted, Isaiah prophesied that a power system would come, i.e., that God the Holy Spirit would indwell a human and fill the soul. Jesus Christ was the first one to receive this ministry, Isa 11:1-3, 42:1, 61:1. As such, the ministry of the Holy Spirit is related to the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ, Mat 1:20; Psa 40:6; Heb 10:5, and Christ was constantly filled with the Spirit from birth, John 3:34. Then we saw that the filling of the Holy Spirit was related to the Baptism of Jesus, Luke 3:21-22, and related to sustaining Him during the temptation of Satan and throughout His public ministry, Luke 4:1, 14-15, 17-18, 21; Mat 12:18, 28. In addition, the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit sustained Jesus Christ while bearing our sins on the Cross, and the Holy Spirit’s ministry to Christ is continued as the agent in resurrection, Rom 8:11; 1 Peter 3:18-19. And by the way, this same ministry and power is transferred to the Royal Family during the Church Age, John 7:38-39, 16:13-14; 2 Cor 3:1-3; Eph 3:16-17.
Because of immutable holiness or integrity, (perfect righteousness and justice), Christ being God could not sin. Because His humanity resided permanently inside of GPS, and because He never chose to convert temptation into sin, Christ was able not to sin. Just as an unconquerable city can be attacked but not taken, so Christ could be tempted but could not sin. This qualified our Lord to go to the Cross and be judged for our sins, thus providing salvation for all who believe in Him.
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Last week, having gone through and understanding the principles of Doctrine regarding our Lord’s Hypostatic Union, Kenosis, and Impeccability, we can better understand the temptations He endured.
As we have seen, Jesus was led into temptation by God the Holy Spirit, but was not tempted by God. God may bring us into temptation, Mat 6:13; 26:41; Job 1:12; 2:6, and may make temptation a blessing unto us, tempering it to our strength, and making us stronger by the victory over it, 1 Cor 10:13; James 1:2-4, 12, but God Himself never tempts us, James 1:13.
James 1:13, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.”
1 Cor 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.”
And, as we have noted above, the three categories of Jesus’ temptations by Satan include: 1) Appetite, 2) Beauty, and 3) Ambitious pride. John calls them in 1 John 2:16, “For all that is in the world, 1) the lust of the flesh, and 2) the lust of the eyes, and 3) the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world, (Satan’s cosmic system).” We could also characterize these as 1) The fleshly, 2) The aesthetic, and 3) The spiritual or intellectual temptation.
Every temptation by Satan falls into one of these three areas. Temptation is primarily an attempt to get one to act independently of God by implanting a desire for self-assertion or self-determination; to go one’s own way, Prov 14:12-18; Isa 53:6.
Isa 53:6, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.”
Satan used these three on Adam and woman in the Garden of Eden, and he continues to use them on us today, as John warns. Because he has been using them since day one of human history, he most likely used them with the Angelic race prior to the creation of man, to lead them in rebellion against God.
Interestingly, the first Adam, who was tested in a beautiful garden of delight, with every creature subject to his will and provided with everything necessary to sustain and strengthen him physically, failed. But, the Last Adam, spending forty days with the wild beasts of the wilderness and without food, was victorious in that terrible wilderness.
In the Garden of Eden, Adam’s sin was more than merely eating forbidden fruit; it was disobeying the revealed Word of God, believing the lie of Satan, and placing his own will above God’s. This is what Satan wanted Jesus to also do, as he wants you and me to do as well.
Though the particular tests of our Lord were out of the ordinary experience of human beings, because they were a testing towards His Deified powers, the areas of testing which they represent are common to all people. All sinful desires can be classified as either lusts of the flesh, lusts of the eyes, or the boasting about possessions, (or a combination thereof, 1 John 2:16). The tests which Satan put the Lord through fall into those three categories.
1. Appetite: To turn stone into bread would have self-satisfied His human fleshly hunger for food.
2. Beauty: To worship before Satan would have returned the glorious dominions of His creation back to Him.
3. Pride: To throw Himself off of the pinnacle would have self-aggrandized His Deity and status as the Son of God.
Using these three categories of temptations, Satan tempted our Lord’s Kenosis in three areas. Each were directed towards Jesus’ reliance upon God to satisfy His problems, rather than His own Deity.
1. Temptation to act independently of the filling of the Spirit, Luke 4:3-4.
2. Temptation in relationship to the Plan of God, Luke 4:5-8.
3. Temptation in relationship to the Word of God, Luke 4:9-12.
As such, Satan’s objectives were threefold.
1. He sought to destroy the doctrine of KENOSIS, (i.e., Jesus use your Deity to satisfy your problem).
2. He sought to fulfill his original sin to make himself like the Most High, Isa 14:14, (i.e., Jesus worship me).
3. He sought to annihilate the prototype spiritual life, (Jesus falsely apply the Word of God).
Oswald Chambers notes, “Temptation means a test of the possessions held within the inner, spiritual part of our being by a power outside us and foreign to us. This makes the temptation of our Lord explainable. After Jesus’ baptism, having accepted His mission of being the One “who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) He “was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness” (Matthew 4:1) and into the testing devices of the devil. Yet He did not become weary or exhausted. He went through the temptation “without sin,” and He retained all the possessions of His spiritual nature completely intact.” (My Utmost for His Highest)
To do so, our Lord’s humanity continued to reside inside the prototype spiritual life, and continued to be sustained by the Holy Spirit, the Word, and the Father’s logistical grace.
As we see, the humanity of our Lord was being tempted by Satan to first perform a lawful miracle in an unlawful manner. What was so wrong then with Satan’s suggestion to perform a miracle to turn stones into bread? The source was Satan. Unlike Adam, who was tempted to do something forbidden by God, Jesus certainly could have performed a miracle. Yet, because it would have been by the misleading of Satan, in independent self-will, it would have been wrong.
These testings were designed to tempt Jesus Christ to operate independently of God the Holy Spirit in problem solving. If the Deity of Christ acts independently of the filling of the Spirit, the humanity of Christ destroys the prototype spiritual life.
Similarly, if we act independently of the filling of God the Holy Spirit, our spiritual life becomes vanity (MATIOTES), cf. Eph 4:17-19; 2 Peter 2:18.
Eph 4:17, “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility (vanity) of their mind.”
2 Peter 2:18, “For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error.”
Satan attacks the humanity of Christ at the point of His strength. This was a temptation to compromise the prototype spiritual life. Our Lord’s strength was the filling of the Holy Spirit and metabolized Bible doctrine circulating in His stream of consciousness. Satan attacked the two power options. He attempted to get our Lord to operate independently of the filling of the Spirit and Bible doctrine. Satan was tempting our Lord to violate the will and plan of God, a sin which is committed by believers every day.
Yet, our Lord had several objectives during His First Advent.
1. To present Himself to Israel as Messiah.
2. To provide eternal salvation for the entire human race.
3. To test and prove the prototype spiritual life.
4. To become the greatest witness against Satan in his appeal trial.
To make these happen, our Lord Jesus Christ refused to solve His problems apart from the spiritual life that God the Father had provided. In doing so, Jesus Christ provided us with the Divine solution to our problems.
In order to accomplish our Lord’s four objectives, He, as well as God the Father, allowed Himself to go through these three temptations, each having its own specific meaning and accomplishment.
The First Temptation:
Luke 4:3-4, “And the devil (DIABOLOS, “Slanderous, false accuser, the adversary, the devil”) said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread’. 4And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE’”.”
The first temptation was one regarding “Appetite,” literally in this case. It was a temptation to turn stone into bread that would have self-satisfied His human fleshly hunger for food. This temptation was to act independently of the filling of the Spirit, Luke 4:3-4, as Satan sought to destroy the doctrine of KENOSIS, (i.e., Jesus use your Deity to satisfy your problem).
In the first temptations, it is obvious that Satan knew Jesus’ position as the Son of God. As such, the object of the first temptation was not so much to make Jesus doubt His relationship with the Father, but to distract Him from it; just as he tempts us to do every day.
How did Satan know Jesus could perform miracles, when Jesus had not performed any as of this time? He knew because he knew who Jesus really was, the Son of God, the 2nd Person of the Trinity. This is good information to use when witnessing. If Satan knew that Jesus was the Messiah Christ, then the unbeliever can too! Cf. Mat 8:29; Mark 1:24; 5:7; Luke 4:34; 8:28.
In this temptation by Satan, Jesus was tempted to perform a miracle to solve His human problem of hunger. The dichotomy of miracles and the prototype spiritual life caused Satan to assume that he had discovered a weak spot in the line of defense in the area of miracles. The dichotomy between miracles and the prototype spiritual life is that miracles always belong to the Divine nature and the prototype spiritual life is under the custodianship of the human nature of Jesus Christ.
The strategy of Satan was to use a false, compromising, or spurious miracle to destroy both KENOSIS and the prototype spiritual life. Satan tempted Jesus Christ to by-pass the prototype spiritual life, to operate independently of God and Bible doctrine circulating in His stream of consciousness, to get Him to reject the Problem Solving Devices. The temptation was to do a right thing in a wrong way. The miracle of compromise called for the human nature of Christ to use His Divine nature to turn the stones of the desert into bread. This was tempting Jesus Christ to perform a lawful thing in an unlawful manner.
Yet, Satan underestimated the power of the prototype spiritual life. Our Lord defeated Satan with the power of Bible doctrine, the Word of God metabolized in the soul when He replied, in vs. 4, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE’.” He quoted Deut 8:3; cf. Mat 4:4.
Deut 8:3, “He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.”
Jesus hung on to the words of God that had already been spoken to Him. He was attentive to His Father’s business, Luke 2:49.
The context in Deut 8:2-3, tells us that the Israelites were being proven and tested and taught not to rely on their own power to provide for needs but to trust and obey God, knowing that He provides.
Israel spent forty years in a wilderness, where there were no means of human subsistence. Yet, they did not starve but were Divinely provided for. This was done to prove to every age that human support does not depend upon what man can make, (i.e., bread), but upon God’s unfailing Word of promise and pledge of all needful providential care through His logistical grace blessing. As such, could Jesus depend upon any other sustenance but that which the Father would provide? The Son of God was able to turn stones into bread through a miracle, but what the Son of God is able to do is not the question. Rather it is, “Would man trust in God’s provisions for his every need?” As man, Jesus would await the Divine provision, not doubting that at the right time it would arrive.
Therefore, for the believer, there is no solution to the problems of life apart from God’s provisions and the Problem Solving Devices. Miracles are not designed to solve your problems. For example, Paul prayed for a miracle three times to have his “thorn in the flesh” removed, yet, the answer was, “No,” 2 Cor 12:7-10. And He remember God’s answer in vs. 9, “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”
Why pray for a miracle when you have a day to day spiritual life that is far greater and far more powerful in a moment by moment existence? Miracles are not Problem Solving Devices. Miracles are not a part of the spiritual life. You have Problem Solving Devices. God performs miracles based on His Sovereign will, even without your prayers. Therefore, for the believer there is no solution to the problems of life through miracles. Miracles are even used by God for Divine discipline, so they are not Problem Solving Devices. The spiritual life and miracles are a dichotomy.
For example, Moses performed a lot of miracles, but they were not a part of his spiritual life. The miracles were performed by God for Moses even when he was out of fellowship, e.g., the second Merabah, Num 20:1-13; cf. Ex 17:7. A miracle was performed when Moses was out of fellowship because the spiritual life of the believer does not include miracles.
Therefore, in the first temptation, Satan wanted Jesus to use His Divine powers to meet His own needs outside of the will and Plan of God. It was a question of putting immediate needs ahead of eternal purposes. Yet, here we see the obedience of our Lord to the Plan of God the Father, rather than solving His problems His own way with His own power. As such, we see that Jesus’ obedience implies relationship, relationship to God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and the Word, which is key to understanding the other two temptations as well.
Finally, as I noted above, if Jesus had turned the stone into bread at Satan’s request, He would have become the great “stumbling stone,” rather than, “The Bread of Life,” which He was. He would not have fulfilled the objectives of 1) Presenting Himself to Israel as Messiah; 2) Providing eternal salvation for the entire human race; 3) Testing and proving the prototype spiritual life; 4) Becoming the greatest witness against Satan in his appeal trial inside the Angelic Conflict.
The Second Temptation:
Luke 4:5-8, “And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.” 8Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY’”.”
Luke’s order of temptations is different from Matthews, as Luke reverses the 2nd and 3rd temptations noted in Matthew’s order. Interestingly, Luke’s reversal aligns with the three categories of temptation from Satan in Gen 3:6, and 1 John 2:16. As we noted from the beginning of this Gospel, Luke’s account does not claim to be chronological. Therefore, we see that Matthew’s may be. But, remember that the inspired Gospel writers were not recording mere chronological events of Jesus’ life, but theological ones as well; thus, they did not always write in order of time, and occasionally in order of theological importance, as Luke has done here.
Here, Luke points to the second category of satanic temptation, “beauty.” Satan showed Jesus all the glorious kingdom of the world, which he had won from Adam. To worship before Satan would have returned the glorious dominions of Jesus’ creation back to Him. He would have all things of this world in subjection to Him. He would be “King of the World!”
Yet, as we also noted above, this was a temptation in relation to the Plan of God the Father, and Jesus’ relationship with the Father. Would Jesus wait on God’s timing to give Him “all things,” Psa 2:7-9; 110:1; Dan 7:13-14; 1 Cor 15:27; Eph 1:22; Heb 1:1-13; 2:8; 10:13; or would He take the shortcut and get them right now? Would Jesus remain loyal to the one true God, or grab all the gusto He can? Would He worship Satan and abandon loyalty to the Father, which is a direct challenge to the first commandment? Ex 20:3.
Now, in Matthew’s account, Satan’s first two temptations began with “if You are the Son of God,” which is a direct attack towards His Deity and Kenosis, as we have noted. But, in Matthew’s 3rd and Luke’s 2nd temptation, Satan omits those words. Why? Well, because this was a direct attack towards the humanity of Jesus Christ to circumvent the Father’s plan to give Jesus “all things.” As God, Jesus already possessed “all things,” and as God’s Son, Jesus had a right to the entire world as the heir of God, Mat 21:33-43. Yet, in His humanity He first had to go to the Cross, suffer, and die for our sins. Then the Father would “give Him all things,” as noted in the passages above, especially in Hebrews chapter 1; cf. Psa 110:1; Luke 24:26.
Luke 24:26, “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?”
Psa 110:1, “The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet’.”
By serving God, Jesus obtained all the earthly authority which the devil offered Him, with the addition of all heavenly authority, Mat 28:18. So much better are the rewards of God than Satan’s.
Mat 28:18, “And Jesus came up (after His resurrection) and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth’.”
There is no quick and easy road to Messianic glory or to spiritual survival in a hostile world. We can only trust in the promises of God and apply His Word to every temptation that Satan throws at us, just as Jesus did.
In addition, with this temptation Satan also sought to fulfill his original sin to make himself like the Most High, Isa 14:14.
Isa 14:14, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds (i.e., God’s glory); I will make myself like the Most High (i.e., God).”
If Jesus would have bowed down to him, Jesus would have made Satan His authority, just as God the Father was. That is why it says “and he led Him up.” Just as Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness and temptation, so here Satan is trying to do his own “leading,” ANAGO, ἀνάγω of Jesus as the counterfeit to God the Holy Spirit. Therefore, if Satan was able to successfully “lead” Jesus into sin, human good, or evil, he would receive whatever authority was or would be bestowed upon Jesus, just as it happened with Adam’s authority over the world, thereby giving Satan his legitimate ability to give Jesus, “all the kingdoms of the world.”
Interestingly, “world,” is the same word used in the Roman census taking in Luke 2:1, the Noun OIKOUMENE, οἰκουμένη. Therefore, we see the arrogance of Satan, just as we saw the arrogance of the Emperor regarding his rule and authority.
“In a moment of time,” is the Noun STIGME, στιγμή that means, “a point, a moment of time, or an instant,” used only here in the NT, with CHRONOS, χρόνος for “time.” How this occurred or by what manner is unknown to us. The mountain top certainly was not high enough, nor could a human see far enough for this to happen as we would think. Therefore, there must have been some supernatural event that occurred to give Jesus this vision. Or, maybe Satan just pointed in the directions of the kingdoms and described them. We just do not know.
Vs. 6, “And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.”
“Domain” is the noun EXOUSIA, ἐξουσία that means, “authority, right, or power.” It is delegated authority to rule.
Satan is able to give Jesus the “kingdoms of the world,” because he presently has custodianship over them, John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 1 John 5:19. It is the result of leading Adam to sin. So, Satan has been allowed some authority on earth, but it is limited and temporary, Rev 20:10.
John 12:31, “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.”
1 John 5:19, “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”
Rev 20:10, “And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
Note also, that this was the only temptation wherein Satan displayed any show of generosity. He is slow to give anything, and most of us sell out to him for nothing, Isa 52:3.
We also see that in Satan giving Jesus all of his kingdoms, he was enticing Jesus into a new “father-son” relationship. It was a proposal of an alliance between the Son and Satan. Just as ancient monarchs passed down their kingdoms to their heir, so too was Satan attempting to pass down his rulership to Jesus, albeit by Jesus honoring him, thereby establishing a new “father-son” relationship between Satan and Jesus. This would further fulfill Satan’s attempt to “be like the Most High.”
Vs. 7, “Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.”
This is the offer of the kingdom without the Cross!
Once again we have an “if” temptation stipulation. In these temptations, Satan uses three “ifs.” From Luke’s account, the first and third temptations, use a “first class if,” meaning, “if and it is true.” These are in relation to Jesus’ Deity as being the Son of God. As we noted above, Satan did not use that phrase in this 2nd temptation, but he did use another “if.” This one is called a “third class” if, meaning, “maybe you will or maybe you will not.” It is the “if” of potential. It uses the Conjunction EAN with a Subjunctive Verb. The verb here is PROSKUNEO. So, this “if” is a question of uncertainty of fulfillment, but having the potential to be fulfilled.
As such, Satan’s stipulation for handing over the kingdoms of the world to Jesus was to “worship” Satan. Worship is the Verb PROSKUNEO, προσκυνέω that means, “fall down and worship, bow down to, show reverence to, etc.” It is from the preposition PROS, “to,” and KUNEO, “to kiss.” The origin of this term probably lies in the ancient custom of putting one’s hand on one’s mouth in a kissing gesture and then extending the hand toward a person of higher status, especially a deity. But, by the classical Greek period, PROSKUNEO was a technical expression for worshiping the gods. In the Bible, it typically is used for the worship of God.
Now, when Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness and asked Him to worship him, he exposed himself as an opponent of God at the most basic level. At first glance this does not seem like much of a temptation at all, yet there was a real attraction here for Jesus. Frequently in the OT, prophets predicted that the descendant of David would rule over the entire world and that many peoples would come to Jerusalem to worship the one true God. This temptation to set up an earthly kingdom that would displace the Roman government was what most Jews were looking for. To get it now, meant that Jesus would need to compromise His calling. It meant He would have to use the world’s methods to bring men freedom, and it meant a crown would be won without a Cross.
As such, this was an appeal to Jesus to obtain by physical rather than by spiritual power the entire world, by the short-cut path of policy rather than by the long road of suffering and martyrdom. Rather than having to suffer and go to the Cross, Satan would give Jesus the speedier possession by simply bowing down and worshipping Satan. Jesus then could reveal Himself in power and authority above generals, princes, kings, and all beings of all ages, rather than a lowly carpenter’s son or a wilderness prophet. All the desires of glorious human ascension, power, authority, wealth, and riches were presented in this temptation.
Yet, as you can image, from the standpoint of Jesus’ Divinity, this temptation was repulsive. It was a large offer in the sight of Satan, but a small one in the sight of Him who made all the worlds. Similarly, such offers are large to the children of the world, but small to those who are by faith joint-heirs with Christ, Rom 8:17; Phil 3:7-8.
“Satan and God each seek the worship of man, but from very different motives. God is holiness and goodness, and we are invited to worship him that we may thereby be induced to grow like him. But Satan seeks worship for vanity’s sake. How vast the vanity which would give so great a reward for one act of worship! Verily the devil is fond of it. He gives nothing unless he obtains it, and all his generosity is selfishness. Worshiping before Satan is the bending of the soul rather than of the body. He holds before each of us some crown of success, and says: “Bend just a little; slightly compromise your conscience. Accept the help of Pharisee and Sadducee, and keep silent as to their sins. Mix a little diplomacy with your righteousness. Stoop just a little. If you do, I will aid you and insure your success. If you do not, I will defeat you and laugh at your failures.” It is Satan’s sin to make such suggestions, but it is not our sin until we comply with them. We may more quickly obtain by his wrong way, but more surely by God’s right way. Let no Christian be humiliated or discouraged by gross temptation, since even the Son of God was tempted to worship the devil. What Jesus would not do, the Beast has done, and has received the kingdoms for a season (Rev 13:1-9). Note, too, that it is all one whether we worship Satan, or mammon, the gift which he offers—Matt 6:24.” (The Fourfold Gospel: or A Harmony of the Four Gospels.)
Mat 6:24, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”
Jesus had come into the world not only to rule as King, but first to give His life as a ransom for many, therefore His answer was a resounding NO THANK YOU!
In vs. 8, “Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY’”.”
Jesus shows His complete allegiance to God. He thwarted the devil’s attempts with Israel’s great confession: “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve,” Deut 6:13; 10:20; cf. Mat 4:10.
This text comes from a portion of a passage that follows the great SHEMA, Deut 6:4-9, which a Jew recited daily. That verse notes one other important reality: with worship comes service. True service means remaining allied to God and is part of your worship towards God.
Jesus quoted passages from Deuteronomy that are associated with the time of the Israelites’ wilderness wandering. In the wilderness, not only do we see the first temptation comparison with the “manna from heaven,” but we also see the Israelites were tempted to worship something other than God, cf. Ex 32, just as Jesus was. The difference between these two times of testing is that Jesus was successful in conquering temptation, while the Israelites were not. This demonstrates that Jesus is the superior “Israel” of God.
This “worship” is also PROKUNEO, and “serve” is the Verb LATREUO, λατρεύω that means, “serve or worship.” In secular Greek, it initially meant, “to work for payment.” That is, putting yourself in service of another. Over time, however, the idea of payment gave way to the idea of service. Subsequently, it is often translated “to serve,” and it may refer to either physical labor or to other types of work and service, including the service or worship of a deity. The Hebrew equivalent of Deut 6:13, is SHAVA translated, “swear.” But the swearing is to make an oath of service to someone. So, “serve” is the intent of SHAVA.
In this response, Jesus is stating who His true allegiance is with, God the Father, and not Satan. Jesus’ relationship with the Father was what enabled Him to eventually conquer Satan, as He wholeheartedly trusted in the Father even to the last, Luke 23:46, “And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.’ Having said this, He breathed His last.”
So, Jesus sought the more difficult path, which in this case, was the Father’s plan of Salvation. As a result, being stronger than Satan, Jesus had come to regain his kingdom, not by treaty, but by conquest, Luke 11:19-22. Moreover, he would obtain it as a spiritual and not as a carnal kingdom.
“Christians are constantly attacked at this point. In the attempt to further the cause of God they sometimes stoop to use less than godly means. Though not always readily apparent, the results are as absurd and as futile as washing with mud. Often Christians are as so caught up in ministry that they forget who they are serving. The program is pushed, but the Person is pushed aside.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary).
“Servants of Christ should remember this. Every attempt to establish Messiah’s kingdom as an outward, worldly dominion is an effort to convert the kingdom of heaven into the kingdom of the devil. God’s kingdom cannot be secularized.” (The Fourfold Gospel: or A Harmony of the Four Gospels).
“We have to ask ourselves the question: Do we worship the ministry? Or, do we minister to worship? If the reason for the Kingdom is forgotten (i.e., a relationship with God), then the means of building the Kingdom are liable to be compromised.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary)
Finally, if Jesus gave in to this temptation, He would not have fulfilled the objectives of 1) Presenting Himself to Israel as Messiah; 2) Providing eternal salvation for the entire human race; 3) Testing and proving the prototype spiritual life; 4) Becoming the greatest witness against Satan in his appeal trial of the Angelic Conflict. Yet, He did not. And as a result of His continued and steadfast worship of the Father and the Father only, Jesus was given all authority and rule both on earth and in heaven.
Scripture teaches that the Messiah should first suffer and only then “enter His glory,” Luke 24:26. And because of Jesus’ faithful service to God, there is a day soon coming when the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our God and His Christ. In that day Satan himself will have to acknowledge that “Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father,” as all created intelligences will prostrate themselves before Him to worship and honor Him as God, even though many will do it with weeping and gnashing of teeth because of the rebellion of their hearts, cf. Psa 72:11; Zech 9:9-10; Mat 28:18.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The Third Temptation:
Luke 4:9-12, “And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; 10for it is written, ‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU TO GUARD YOU,’ 11and, ‘ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’” 12And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST’”.”
Satan, once again, acting as Jesus’ Old Sin Nature (OSN) to tempt Him, also tries to counterfeit the leading ministry of the Holy Spirit, by leading Jesus back to Jerusalem and to the temple to stand on the “pinnacle,” to see if He would leap off and have the angels save Him.
“Pinnacle” is the Noun PTERUGION, πτερύγιον that means, “end, extremity, pinnacle, peak.” It is only used in this narrative in Luke and Matthew. It has the idea of the edge, the end, the extremity, or a protrusion. Some suggest it might have been the apex of the sanctuary, the top of Solomon’s portico, or the top of the Royal portico on the temple’s southeast corner, which looms over a cliff and the Kidron Valley, some 450 feet below.
“The precise location is uncertain, but a very old tradition identifies this as the southeastern corner of the temple area. This was an impressively high prominence overlooking the Kidron Valley. Another suggestion is that the temptation took place at the edge of the front facade of the holy building of the temple which faced the Court of the Priests, the Court of the Israelites, and the Court of Women. The exact location is not as important as the content of the temptation which was deliberately to put God’s protection to the test by a suicidal leap from the extreme height.” (Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary).
Here we have the third category of Temptation, “Ambitious Pride.” Once again Satan address Jesus with the 1st class “If” statement: “if you are the Son of God.” In these three temptations, we have three “if” statements. The first “if” was one of despairing doubt, (“If you are the Son of God turn this stone to bread.”); the second, of moral and spiritual compromise (“If you worship me, I will give you all the kingdoms.”); the third, of vainglorious speculation, (“If you are the Son of God prove it by throwing yourself off the pinnacle.”).
Like the 1st temptation, Satan is using Jesus’ Deity to tempt Him. The temptation to throw Himself off of the pinnacle would have self-aggrandized His Deity and status as the Son of God.
Comparing these two temptations, the first was to have Jesus doubt His position as God, to under-confidence. This third was designed to be overly presumptuous as to His Deity, to over-trust in arrogance. The two are very dangerous conditions of the soul.
This can happen to us too when we begin by disparagingly doubting that Jesus can save us from our sins, and end by recklessly presuming that he will save us in our sins. Also, comparing this with the Woman’s temptation, we find that she was vainly curious to see if she might be like God, Gen 3:5, but Christ resisted such curiosity and did not use His Deity to prove a point. Jesus’ Messianic ministry would not be a traveling road show of the miraculous.
We also see in this temptation that Satan uses Bible Doctrine to tempt Jesus. Learning from the previous two temptations regarding Jesus’ responses with Bible Doctrine, Satan now tries to turn God’s Word back on Him. Therefore, it is a temptation in relationship to the Word of God, as Satan sought to annihilate the prototype spiritual life by having Jesus falsely apply the Word of God. As the first temptation was primarily in regard to His relationship with the Holy Spirit, the second to His relationship with the Father, now the third is in relationship to the Son of God; the mind of Jesus Christ. Yet, all of them have application in relationship to the Father’s Plan and provisions, the Holy Spirit’s sustaining ministry, and the Word, (i.e., the mind of Jesus Christ, 1 Cor 2:16).
Remember that “pride” was the source of Satan’s fall, Ezek 28:12-17, was used to entice Adam and the woman to sin, Gen 3:6; and is a major problem for us today, Prov 16:18.
Prov 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.”
Satan uses two passages from Psa 91:11-12, to bolster his temptation. This is typical, as Scripture tells us in 2 Cor 11:14, “No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”
1 Tim 4:1, “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.”
It is also interesting that after Jesus twice quotes the Scriptures, Satan thinks himself subtle enough to quote the Bible to the Lord and deceive even the Son of God.
Mat 4:6, “… for it is written, ‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU’; and ‘ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE’”.”
Psa 91:11-12, “For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways (not in Matthew). 12They will bear you up in their hands, that you do not strike your foot against a stone.”
Note that when Satan quoted from Psalm 91:11-12, he misquoted Scripture, just as he misquoted God’s Word in the garden to the woman. He left out “in all your ways,” which means when walking with God. If Jesus applied Satan’s temptation, Jesus would not have been walking with God. You see, when a child of God is in the will of God, he can claim the Father’s protection and care. But, if he willfully gets into trouble and expects God to rescue him, then he is tempting God, cf. Ex 17:1-7.
If Satan tried to twist Scripture and to twist the Lord’s heart and mind, then we know he will try it with us. Therefore, resisting temptation cannot be merely a matter of “take two Bible verses and call me in the morning.” We would have to know the word as well as Jesus knows it in order to do what Jesus does here. So, the issue is more than just the Word, it is our relationship with God: God the Holy Spirit, God the Father, and God the Son, (i.e., The Word / the mind of Jesus Christ). Jesus’ application of the Word in these passages reveals He is a true Son.
In Luke’s account “concerning you,” is the Verb DIAPHULASSO, διαφυλάσσω that means, “guard, protect, watch over (someone),” i.e., providential care. Luke is using the Septuagint’s reading of Psa 91:11-12, (LXX 90:11-12), “He will command his angels to protect you.”
To best understand this temptation we must view it in the light of the history of the times. For Jesus to have supernaturally survived a fall from the temple heights in full view of the people would have immediately identified Him as the Messiah, the supernaturally anointed leader whom many Jews expected to lead an armed revolt against the oppressive Romans. Yet, Jesus knew that to start His ministry by dramatically jumping from the pinnacle would be completely contrary to God’s will. To do so would be to tempt God. Jesus refused to take this shortcut. He refused to let anything break His relationship with God His Father.
“All who love pomp, display of artistic taste, gaieties of fashion, intoxication of fame, etc., fall by this temptation. Those who truly rest on God’s promises, stand on a sure foundation, but those who rise on bubbles must come down when they burst.” (The Fourfold Gospel: or A Harmony of the Four Gospels.)
“Unfortunately, this temptation continued to confront Jesus at every turn of His ministry. John’s Gospel says that at one point Jesus had to forsake the crowds lest they make Him king by force. At His triumphal entry and in the cleansing of the temple, all Jesus would have had to say was “To arms!” and His mission as Messiah would have been reduced to a mere military operation, and the plan of salvation might have been lost.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary)
But, our Lord again answers Satan’s temptation with Scripture in vs. 12. To defeat this temptation by Satan, Jesus quoted Deut 6:16, “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, …”
Once again, we see Jesus being victorious, as Israel failed in the wilderness at the first Meribah incident, as the rest of Deut 6:16 tells us, “… as you tested Him at Massah.” Cf. Ex 17:7.
God is to be trusted, served, and worshiped. He is not to be tested. Putting God to the test means to provoke God by making inappropriate demands for a Divine sign or solution to be used for display. Remember the Baptist’s father, Zachariah.
This request for a sign would actually be an act of unbelief, masquerading as extraordinary faith. Had Jesus cast Himself down from the pinnacle, He would have demanded the Father to perform a needless miracle to prove His Sonship, and would thereby have put the love of God to an unnecessary trial. Therefore, Jesus avoided the dangers so as not to put to test God and His promises. This explains why later in the gospels we Jesus eluding several crowds that wanted to kill Him. He did so with the same thoughts in mind.
“All who jeopardize themselves without any command of God or call of duty, make trial of His love.” (The Fourfold Gospel: or A Harmony of the Four Gospels.)
Yet, what Jesus does is compare Scripture with Scripture, as the principle is: To get a right understanding of any Bible passage, we must compare Scripture with Scripture as the Bible interprets itself.
We could have no higher endorsement of the OT Scriptures than this use of it by Christ. It was sufficient for Him in His temptations, and with the addition of the NT, it is sufficient for us in all things, 2 Tim 3:16-17.
“The secret of Jesus’ victory was not in His rote memory of Scripture. Immersing oneself in the Word of God is good, but even the devil parrots Scripture. It was not head knowledge of Scripture that revealed God’s will, but Jesus’ relationship with His Father. A prerequisite for properly interpreting Scripture is a living relationship with God. Jesus conquered temptation not because He quoted Scriptures like magical incantations, but because He had an already existing relationship with His Heavenly Father which these Scriptures reveal.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary)
Therefore, in all three temptation by Satan, Jesus, empowered by God the Holy Spirit, used the “Sword of the Spirit,” Eph 6:17, to defeat the tempter, quoting from Deut 8:3; 6:13, and 16 respectfully. Jesus did not use His Divine powers to win the victory; He used the same spiritual weapons that any of us can use, if we will yield to Him, 1 Cor 10:13.
In His own time and in a way that glorified the Father, Jesus received everything Satan tempted Him with. Jesus would miraculously produce bread for the hungry masses, obtain all authority and splendor in heaven and earth through the Cross and resurrection, Mat 28:18-20, and receive the service and worship of heaven’s angels as he rules at the Father’s right hand. Therefore, the best way to fight temptation is to realize we may receive what tempts us in a holy way, if we wait on God’s timing, trusting Him.
While each of the three temptations affected Jesus in a different way, they challenged all aspects of His existence as a whole person. Each attacked one common point: distract Jesus from or to destroy His relationship with God the Father. This was the true goal of Satan. In so doing, Satan questioned the Father’s love for Jesus when he tempted Him to turn stones into bread. He questioned His hope when he offered Jesus the world’s kingdoms without need for the Cross. Satan also questioned the Father’s faithfulness when he asked Jesus to jump from the temple and prove that the Father would keep His promise. Thus, the enemy attacked the three basic virtues of the Christian life: faith, hope, and love, cf. 1 Cor 13:13; 1 Thes 1:3; 5:8.
Yet, in so doing, Satan unwittingly gave Jesus an opportunity to clarify His mission and ministry and to temper His relationship with the Father.
In these three temptations, the God-man passed the test that Adam and the woman failed, He survived temptation in the wilderness when Israel failed in the exodus, and He passed the tests that we have all failed. In doing so he becomes our ever-present help in times of need and temptation. Yet, if Jesus gave in to this temptation, He would not have fulfilled the objectives of 1) Presenting Himself to Israel as Messiah; 2) Providing eternal salvation for the entire human race; 3) Testing and proving the prototype spiritual life; 4) Becoming the greatest witness against Satan in his appeal trial of the Angelic Conflict
Heb 12:1-2, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Finally, we see that Satan became frustrated at our Lord’s resolute production and fled the scene, as Jesus was victorious in all three temptations of Appetite, Beauty, and Ambitious Pride.
Luke 4:13, “When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time.” Here we see that Satan flees the scene when he was not victorious over Jesus in these temptations.
“Temptation,” is the Noun PEIRASMOS, πειρασμός that means, “temptation, testing, or experience.” It typically refers to the tempting of humanity to do wrong, as Satan tempted Jesus here, cf. Mat 6:13; Luke 11:4; 22:28, 46; 1 Cor 10:13; Heb 2:18; 1 Peter 1:6; 2 Peter 2:9; James 1:2-4, 12; Rev 3:10. It may also refer to the “testing” of God by man, and more specifically, His chosen people, Acts 5:9; 15:10; 1 Cor 10:9; Heb 3:8-9.
“Left him,” is a very weak translation, as the Verb here is APHISTEMI, ἀφίστημι that means, “cause to revolt, mislead, lead away, withdraw from, abstain from, depart, desert, or fall away.”
Many times this word is used to encourage believers not to fall into reversionism, cf. Luke 8:13; 1 Tim 4:1; Heb 3:12.
Luke 8:13, “Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.”
1 Tim 4:1, “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.”
Heb 3:12, “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.”
Interestingly, as Satan was trying to get our Lord to fall away from His relationships with God the Holy Spirit, God the Father, and The Word, Satan is the one who “deserted or abandoned” his evil cause and the scene. The reason was, he was defeated by the power of the filling of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, i.e., “the Sword of the Spirit.”
“Until an opportune time,” unfortunately tells us that even when we are victorious in our tactical battles with temptation and sin, it will rear its ugly head at another time, especially when we may be most vulnerable or susceptible to temptation. Therefore, we must always be on guard over our souls with the filling of the Holy Spirit, having Bible Doctrine circulating through the soul.
By passing these temptations, Jesus becomes our ever-present help in times of need and temptation, Heb 2:18; 4:15.
Heb 2:18, “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”
Heb 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”
“Therefore, in our temptations our best strategy is to run to Jesus. He is our strength. He is our shield. He is our High Priest who prays and intercedes for us. He is our victory and our confidence. However well we know the Word of God, let us not begin to think we know it so well that we don’t need to first flee to Jesus, our High Priest who has overcome the tempter on our behalf.” (Christ-Centered Exposition.)
Principles of Temptation:
Temptation in our thinking today means, to entice so as to move someone to sin, evil, or human good. But, in its original meaning, it also meant, “testing or trying.” Therefore, it could be thought of as a challenge of the will either for good or bad.
In fact, we see God “testing” Abraham in the Isaac incident, Heb 11:17; cf. Ex 20:20; Deut 8:2; Judges 2:22. In the Hebrews passage, the Greek Verb for “testing,” is PEIRAZO, πειράζω that means, “try, attempt, put to the test, tempt, or entice to sin.” Clearly, God was not trying to get Abraham to sin, but was challenging his faith in God.
With that understanding, we are also reminded that a temptation by itself is not necessarily sin. Therefore, when you are presented with a temptation to sin, the temptation itself is not the sin. The sin is when you act upon the temptation either mentally, verbally, or overtly.
Furthermore, in regard to a challenge of faith, in fact, all temptations towards the believer are a challenge for the believer to continue to trust and rely upon God and not give in to the temptation and sin, thereby maintaining their walk of faith with God, while growing spiritually as a result of the tactical victory.
So, the subject of the following principles is in regard to enticing to sin, as we are tempted to sin from one of three sources: 1) From our Old Sin Nature (OSN); 2) From Satan or one of his minions; or 3) From the world, (Satan’s cosmic system). As noted above, we are never tempted to sin by God, James 1:13.
A temptation is an enticement to choose a path that leads to or enters us into sin, human good, or evil. It is a choice that leads us astray from our ongoing experiential relationship with God. It leads us to not be in fellowship with God, walk in the Light of Jesus, or be filled with the Holy Spirit. It leads us to not be experiential sanctified before God. With that said, we also see that a temptation to sin can have the complete opposite of its goal when we resist its enticement to sin.
It is not a sin to be tempted. Yet, when you respond positively towards temptation it becomes a sin, human good, or evil in your life. In addition, when you are filled with the Holy Spirit you cannot sin. But when you go negative towards God’s will at the point of being positive towards temptation, then you enter into sin, human good, or evil and come under the control of the Old Sin Nature, (OSN). Being under the control of the OSN means you are out of fellowship with God.
James 1:14, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.”
The NIV Application Commentary shows us several things we learn about temptation from Jesus’ example:
1. Do not try to think or rationalize your way out of God’s will. When Jesus was tempted, He did not think or rationalize His way out of God’s will. He could have easily said that God would not want His Son to starve, to suffer rejection, or to die. He could have easily rationalized His way through or out of the situation by thinking the kingdom was going to belong to Him anyway, so what did it matter how it came into his hands? Jesus avoided this kind of “the end justifies the means” thinking as He responds to the three proposals of Satan. We must be careful that the shortcuts that often become possible in life do not in fact reflect rationalization to avoid God’s will for our lives.
2. Tests in life are not bad; in fact, God allows them in our life, Job 1-2; James 1:2-4. The main issue is our response to the test. Do we respond in a way that looks to God to guide us through it? Do we trust Him, or do we put Him to the test?
In addition, how do you respond to personal struggles in your life? Do you get angry? Do you seek to reassert your control, even when you know you cannot control events? Or do you rest in faith, look for God’s hand, and ask Him what you should do and learn from what you are going through? If we are to grow spiritually, we can expect trials. If we are to grow spiritually, we need to look to God in the midst of them.
3. Our trust in God should extend His provisions for our lives. Though Satan tested Jesus about the most basic of needs, bread, we sometimes desire to “feed ourselves” with things we feel are basic to life. But those “basic things” frequently involve a larger home, more gadgets, the finest appliances, the most expensive clothes, and a host of other material possessions to say that we have arrived. Yet, life is not defined materially; rather, it is defined relationally and spiritually in terms of knowing God and serving Him in the context of His will.
Sometimes giving resources to the accomplishment of ministry may mean giving up personal material pleasures. The pursuit of material goals can become a driving force in our lives. But where does God’s Word and leading stand? Will Satan succeed in testing us to take bread that God is not asking us to eat, while we ignore the most basic meal of all, His will? Sometimes God provides abundantly in the midst of a sacrifice made for His will. Sometimes, seeking to have less materially can lead to having much more.
4. Our trust in God should include contentment with the station He has given us in life, Phil 4:11-13. Another way we show lack of trust is to grab for power that is not ours or to take power in a way it is not intended to be received. The implications of such a power grab extend into how we exercise authority in the home, how we conduct our businesses, and how we relate to others.
Satan tempts us to slip into idolatry as directly as he did here with Jesus, using subtle substitutes. Perhaps we worship our work, our status, our possessions, our family, or other unsuitable items that stand in the way of knowing God. Maybe he asks us to take the easy path of “growth” without suffering or facing rejection in our stand for Jesus or for Divine values. Sometimes, when we opt for comfort in life, it means selling our soul to the prince of this world.
Yet, God desires to give us rich blessing, even to share in the benefits of His authority. The best authority is one exercised not under threat, but that which is earned. The most genuine authority is not that which is seized, but that which is received from the God who honors faithfulness. But, to worship Satan and to take his path to get there is to lose whatever access to God’s blessing we may possess.
5. We should never try to force God to act on our behalf, show that He loves us, etc., or prove Himself or His Word in any way. A way we tend to show a lack of trust in God is to try to force Him to act on our behalf. In the test we often set up, we want to see if He is for us or against us. This type of spiritual wagering does not involve leaping from tall buildings, but walking into events where we say in effect, “If you care for me God, then this situation will turn out this way.” In effect, we test the “emergency broadcast system” of God’s presence and presume on how He should react. This kind of testing is an attempt to control God, not follow His leading. We are setting ourselves up for disappointment, since it may be in our best interest for events to go in a different direction than we desire.
6. We should never blame God for our problems or whenever suffering occurs. As stated above, God never tempts us to sin, James 1:13, but He will allow us to be tempted by our OSN, Satan, or the world, as Job was, cf. Job 1-2. When problems, difficulties, or suffering occurs in our life, we may feel that He has abandoned us, when, in fact, He may be getting our attention, revealing a better way to us, or asking us to meet Him in the midst of the adversity. As Jesus turned down Satan and consciously chose to follow God down the hard road of His ministry, so too must we be prepared to walk into events under His leading, even where the outcome is not clear.
1 Cor 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”