The Gospel of Luke ~ Chapter 4:1-13 ~ The Three Temptations of Satan towards Jesus, Pt. 2 ~ Principles of Temptation to be an Overcomer

Vol. 18, No. 24 – June 23, 2019

6 23 19 - Luke 4 vs 9 - 13 - The 3 temptations of Satan toward JC - Principals of Tempt for the overcomerThe Gospel of Luke
Chapter 4

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.


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)

Vs. 12

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.

Vs. 13

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.”

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If you would like more information on this subject, you may watch/listen to lesson:

#19-064 & 19-065 & 19-066

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If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore, our sins will never be held against us.

Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life. To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life.

So right now, you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:

“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ,
died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”

If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!

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