Sermon delivered January 6, 2001 by Pastor Donald J Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the King James Version KJV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Jesus' First Temptations

(The Devil Made Me Do It) Fourth in a series on the life of Jesus

Matthew 4:1-11

I want to commend all of you this Sabbath for having perfect attendance this year. I want you to keep that up the rest of the year. How wonderful to be in church, to begin the new millennium and the new century right here. We are continuing a series of sermons on Jesus Christ which started around Christmas time with His birth, and Pastor Crutcher and I are going to finish around Easter time with His resurrection. Today is about His first recorded temptations.

A husband said to his wife, "Honey, what happened to the rest of that Bryers Moose Track Ice Cream that was in the Refrigerator? It's missing. It's gone." She said: "Dear, I ate it. I finished it off." "Why?" he asked, "I thought that you were on a diet?" The wife replied, "The Devil made me do it!" The Devil? Can the Devil make us do stuff that we don't want to do, or that we know we ought not to do? When temptation comes along are we a push-over for the devil? How do you go about resisting when Satan attacks, especially when the temptation is about something that you enjoy? Well, we're going to discuss that. I think a we discover here in Matthew 4 how the Devil tempted Jesus and how Jesus overcame those temptations and some of the keys that He used, we can overcome some of the temptations that come to us. Is that fair?

So you want to study this, not exactly what the temptations were, but what did Jesus do when the temptations came to Him.

Matthew 4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. That's an amazing thing that the Holy Spirit would actually lead Jesus into a place where He knew He was going to be tempted. You just wouldn't think that the Holy Spirit would do that. Is there any benefit to being tempted? There is if you overcome the temptation. If you can't overcome it you have a problem.

Goodness at its highest confronted evil at its lowest in this chapter. It was a big contest. It happened in the desert so maybe we could call this, "Desert Storm," maybe. Jesus and the devil trying to se who is going to win. And this happened immediately after Jesus' baptism, which shows me that baptism doesn't bury the devil. I wish it did. I wish I could announce to you as your pastor, "Are you aware that this past Thursday the devil died? Now, we're going to have his funeral this coming Sunday, tomorrow. And we're going to bury him." I wish I could announce that. But I want to tell you that the devil is very much alive, and he is still in the tempting business and you need to be ready.

Why would the Holy Spirit lead Jesus out there to be tempted? Were there any noble purposes to this thing? Well. there were:

  1. So that Christ could be alone out there to plan His ministry.
  2. So that he could fast so as to clear His mind. Have you ever fasted? For forty days? I would not advise especially to do that. Jesus did it.
  3. He was out there so that he could gain spiritual strength, and commune with His heavenly Father before He launched His ministry.

So Jesus was out there in the wild in obedience to His father's will; the Holy Spirit led Him there, and whatever happened was alright. You want to keep that in mind. You don't want to just subject yourself to temptation. Imagine a person going into the liquor store and standing there with all those bottles of liquor, "Lord, help me not to buy one. And if I do, help me not to drink it. And if I do drink it, help me not to get drunk." What a crazy prayer! Don't even go to the liquor store. Jesus was there on the ground of temptation at the leading of the Holy Spirit, not on His own. Don't do that on your own.

If Jesus had tried to set himself free, if He would have left the wilderness and gone to Jerusalem, He would have been going contrary to God's will. It was God's will that he was there. And in these last day, we need to make sure when we flee to the wilderness, and that time will come, that you don't go early, that you don't go at the leading of the Holy Spirit. And if He does lead you, make sure you go. If He doesn't, then wait on His guidance.

Matthew 4:1, we've read that. It says "He was lead up" in the King James. I want to emphasize that, because, where was Jesus? Where was Jesus when he was led u into temptation? He was down at the river Jordan where he had just been baptized, wasn't He. That's where he was. And He was led up, where? Into the desert of Peraea just 2000 feet above sea level, and the River Jordan is 1000 or more feet below sea level, so literally He was led UP and there He was tempted in that hot barren desert land. Jesus was alone. That place was almost thirty miles in length there south of Jerusalem and west of the Dead Sea. And it was about fifteen miles wide. And He was alone, except for wild beasts. The Persian wolf, wild boar, hyena, jackal, and leopard. There was also a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour. And he was wanting to devour our Savior. Praise God he didn't.

This was Jesus' prep school. Hebrews 2:18 (NLT) "Since he himself has gone through suffering and temptation, he is able to help us when we are being tempted." Because Jesus went through forty days of intense temptation. According to Luke He was tempted the whole time (Luke 4:2). And according to Matthew it was right at the end (Matthew 4:2). I'm sure the severest part was at the end. He knows ho to help us. Christ didn't question God, He only followed in perfect obedience to the will of His father. Matthew 4:2 And when He had fasted 40 days and 40 nights, He was afterward an hungered. The Bible doesn't really need to tell us that He was hungry, does it. If you had fasted forty days and forty nights, you would be starving to death. Jesus was famished. He was really hungry. That's a lot of fasting! But also He had communion; He was spiritually strongest he had ever been on this earth and physically He was the weakest He had ever been.

Moses also fasted 40 days. Are you aware of that? See Exodus 34:28. Elijah also fasted 40 days. See I Kings 19:8. Moses fasted in the Middle of his ministry, Elijah fasted in the end of his ministry, and Christ fasted in the beginning of his ministry. And we are also told that Moses fasted in God's presence, Elijah fasted alone, and Jesus fasted in presence of the Devil. That's an interesting comparison.

So, what is the first temptation? Matthew 4:3 And when the tempter came to Him, he said: If That's typical of the devil. IF thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." Could Jesus have done that? Would it be possible for Jesus to command those stone to be made bread, and would the stones obey? Yes, they would. Was Jesus God? Yes, He was. he was fully man and fully god. He could have done it and the stones wold have obeyed. Would that have been right for Him to do that? No. Why not? Because it would have broken the fast that God had appointed because He would have been using His divinity to help Himself and He was not supposed to do that.

Have you ever noticed that the devil always comes at times of our greatest weakness? Somehow, when we're the weakest the devil knows that. He must keep a chart of when we catch a cold or when we're the weakest and then he homes in on us at the exact moment. He does that. He is a fishy person. After 40 days without any food, He was tired and famished. After a long night the next morning about dawn "There came to the Savior, as if in answer to His prayers, one in the guise of an angel from Heaven." Desire of Ages p.118, EG White.

"At last" Jesus possibly thought, "My father has responded and sent help!" The angel from heaven was the first person He had seen in over a month. The bright angel said that he was given a message from God to tell Christ that His fast could be ended.

Just like God had sent an angel to stay the hand of faithful Abraham from killing Isaac, so now God was hypothetically satisfied with Christ's willingness to enter a blood-stained path. "Your Father has said that you don't need to die. He has tested you and you have passed the test."

Christ was craving for food. The 'heavenly' angel pointed to some stones that must have looked like loaves of bread in the early dawn light. "IF you are the Son of God command that these stones be made bread." But Jesus saw through the scheme. Jesus saw that He was being tempted to doubt God. Do you know how Jesus detected the Devil? By his words, not by his appearance, the Savior recognized the enemy - (RH 7/22/1909). When Satan personates Jesus in the last days the only way for God's elect to detect him will be by knowing the Bible and comparing that with what is said. By his words Jesus knew this angel was a fake and He didn't fall for it. I want to tell you that in the last days your only hope is if you know the Bible.

Have you opened your bible today other than at church? Other than here in Sabbath School? Now, as your pastor you would expect me to tell you, and I did this morning. I read a large portion of the Scriptures before I ever came to church. Is that for ministers only? Do you know that you will never make it through the last days unless yon immerse yourself in the Scriptures. That's how Jesus was able to overcome temptation. An what did i read on the way to church this morning? A church had a sign down the road :A dusty Bible results in a dirty life! Yes, that's the way it is. Read your Bibles, folks.

Adam and Eve lost their perfect setting by submitting to the devil's temptations and retained it. He gained it back. Praise God for Jesus Christ.

You know that when Adam was tempted, he was in Paradise, the Garden of Eden. When Jesus was tempted, He was out in the wilderness. Jesus had much worst circumstances. You might say, "My circumstances aren't too good in life. No wonder I can't avoid temptation." That has nothing to do with it. It depends on your vertical connection whether you're going to be strong or not. So maintain that vertical connection. This shows that spiritual success doesn't depend on the outside environment but on the inward experience.

Keep in mind that Jesus had the physical nature not of Adam's right after Adam's fall, but after 4000 yrs of sin. Jesus' body was weaker. Adam and Eve had fallen on fruit, and Satan wanted Jesus to fail on Bread. It was basically a temptation of appetite, this first temptation. Somehow it is that when we go to the refrigerator we are the weakest and there's where we need to be the strongest. That's our problem. We don't have will- power against Bryer's Moose Track ice cream. We need Won't-power for whatever your temptation is, and it may be something else. The devil knows how to get us, but we don't have to fall if we connect ourselves with Jesus Christ. If the devil gets control of our physical being he can gain control of our minds because that's how it comes.

So, Satan suggested that Jesus should doubt God, and use His Divine Power for His Own benefit. Praise God that Jesus Christ was faithful, that He did not fall to this temptation. Had He fallen, we would have been left in the ditch without a Savior, without any hope. Praise god for Jesus Christ. The son of perdition and the Son of God, and the Son of God won the battle. I'm so glad for that.

Now, I think one of the things the devil really hit Jesus with is: He probably said, "Isn't there a promise somewhere in the Old Testament that says that your bread and water will be sure? (Isaiah 33:16) If you are one of God's people your bread and water are sure, You aren't able to eat, no food here, therefore because You're out of food You can't be one of His children because His children always have at least bread and water. And You don't." The devil argues with us even to this day. "Aren't Christians supposed to be blessed by God? Aren't you supposed to have plenty of money in your checkbook? You don't have money in your checkbook do you? Therefore, you can't be a Christian. God isn't blessing you." See, the devil still gets at us with these same temptations. He's still up to his old tricks.

"You're supposed to be blessed. You honor your mother and father and your days are going to be long on this earth. You've got cancer, therefore you can't be a Christian. You've got all these problems that are coming upon you, all this suffering, all this sickness." That's what the devil does to us.

The son of perdition said to the Son of God: "God promises bread and water to Christians; you don't have any bread or water, therefore you are not a Christian." Have you been tempted to think that God doesn't care for you. If He did, why would you be suffering here with cancer, heavy debts, sickness, heartaches, trouble?

Well, notice what Jesus did. As soon as the devil tempted Him, Matthew 4:4 But Jesus answered and said, "It is written, He hadn't been listening to Mark Finley. He'd been memorizing Scripture, hadn't He. Jesus knew the Bible. It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Deuteronomy 8:3). By how many words? Bye every word. That means that you should read the entire Bible all the way through, doesn't it? You should saturate yourself in these words.

The secret of Christ's strength to meet temptation, was that He had studied the Scriptures with diligence. Christ knew the Bible. He had done His homework. He would not deviate from God's revealed will. The Bible kept Him from yielding to temptation.

Psalm 17:4 By the word of Thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer. Do you know the Bible like Jesus did? If so you can have its power in your life. Psalm 119:11 Thy word have I did in my heart, that I might not sin against thee. That's how you avoid temptation. That's how YOU can overcome temptation, by hiding the Word in your heart. When you're driving along in the car, listen to a recording of the Bible. Saturate yourself in the Word. Read the Word, Study the Word.

Jesus was one of the very elect. he was not deceived. The elect say, "though he slay me yet will I trust in him." Jesus had genuine faith or TRUST in God.. "Faith brings victory over the world." I John 5:4. And Faith "Comes by hearing." (Romans 10:17) Faith comes by a study of the scriptures. No wonder Christ was victorious. The father of lies quakes and trembles when the Truth of God is thrown in his face.

The first temptation was for Jesus to distrust God.
The second was for Jesus to Presume upon God.
The third was for Jesus to forsake God.

The first was what Jesus ought to do for Himself.
The Second was what the Father ought to do for Jesus.
The Third was what Satan could do for Jesus.

Second Temptation -- (PRESUMPTION) Matthew 4:5 Then the devil taketh Him up into the holy city and sitteth Him on a pinnacle of the temple. I don't know how he did that. It was a miracle, wasn't it. How the devil could take Him up to the highest part of the temple. Can Satan work miracles? He can make things look like miracles, anyway. And he did one on Jesus.

Then he said, "If you are truly God, then JUMP! And the angels will catch You." I was thinking, if Don Gettys would have been up there... I don't like high places. I was in Atlanta, Georgia one time in this hotel, way up there, I don't know how many stories up, hundreds of feet above the pavement and they had a balcony and you could open these sliding doors and I walked out on that balcony. I kind of eased out there, you know, and grabbed that little two-inch cast iron rail and held on. I looked down there and I had enough. I went right back into the room.

I think if I had been up there, and you realize the height in that day the top of that pinnacle compared to the Kidron Valley which was right there below was about 450 feet. That's one of the highest places in all Palestine where you could look vertically down on something. It wouldn't be any temptation for me to jump. Later James was martyred by being thrown from that spot.

And that really wasn't the temptation for Jesus to jump. The temptation for Him was to distrust His Father. That was the key temptation here. Presumption.

    And you must understand this temptation because the Jews had several expectations:
  1. - When the Messiah came the temple would be His oval office and Jerusalem capitol of world.
  2. - All Kingdoms of the world both political and religious would be subject to the Messiah and worship in Jerusalem.
  3. - When the trues Messiah came, He would present Himself from the pinnacle of the Most Holy Place.

What a natural place for the second temptation! The angel of light brings Christ right to the spot of expectation! It was sunrise, the time of the morning sacrifice. The Holy priests were blowing trumpets summoning Israel to a new day. The massive temple gates open slowly. Now! Now let Christ descend to the people, borne by heavenly angels of God into the midst of priests and worshipers. Now is the time to jump! The angels will catch You and carry you down to the people. And here come the Messiah. Jesus didn't do it. He did not fall for that because he knew Scripture. And because he knew His Father and he din not want to disappoint His Father.

Matthew 4:6. And saith unto Him, "If thou be the son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, Now here the devil starts quoting Scripture. And I want to tell you that the devil knows the Bible more than some of our Adventist people know the bible. And here the devil quotes the Bible. It is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone."

"IF" pops up again. Jesus must have thought, this doesn't sound like my father. Jesus was being asked to put His Father to the test. Satan gives Bible authorization for his proposal. He knows it better that most Christians do. The Devil quoted the Bible but he omitted something! Look at the verse Satan quoted: Psalm 91. Still today Satan misquotes, and misapplies the Bible. He manipulates the word of God. Notice Psalm 91:11-12. He shall give His angels charge over thee, TO KEEP THEE IN ALL THY WAYS, They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Do you see what he left out? "To keep thee in all thy ways." Whose ways? God's ways. As long as you are walking in the will of God the angels will protect you. But as soon as you deviate, you go over there and you look at that old x-rated thing, you start drinking out of that old bottle, you start immersing yourself in sin, then what have you done? You have taken yourself out of the protection of God. He'll keep you as long as you stay in His ways. He promises to send His angels.

And the devil misquoted the Word of God. He manipulated the words that God said. He omitted the words that God said were the key to gaining this promise. Satan omitted the words that say that God will indeed keep us as long as we walk in the ways of HIS choosing. When you depart from the straight and narrow way you leave God's protection and enter the enchanted ground of the enemy. Please, follow only where God leads.

By the way, If Jesus would have jumped, would He have been saved? No! Not at all! What would have happened? He would have died. People would have said, "It looks like Joseph and Mary's Son committed suicide." That would have been the end of it, the end of our salvation. Praise God He didn't jump. The Lamb would have become the beast. Divinity probably lived on in sin and evil and the whole universe would have been changed. God would have joined Satan in evil.

He didn't presume on God. Never presume on God. We pray, "Lord, if you don't want me to jump, show me a sign. Or don't allow it to happen." "Lord, if you don't want me to purchase this...then don't let the contract that I have already signed go through." We put God on the spot. We test God! We fix it so that God has to intervene to save us from what we want to do. Presumption is Satan's counterfeit of faith.

Notice the devil got Jesus up there, but he didn't shove Him off of the temple dome. The devil is not allowed to make you sin. He can lead you into temptation but he is not allowed to make you sin. In other words, nobody, including Jesus could ever say, "The devil made me do it."

Matthew 4:7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, "Thou salt not tempt the Lord thy God."

So He didn't even compromise. That's another key: don't compromise with the devil. Not even slightly.

The third temptation is basically for Jesus to bypass the Cross to get control of the world through some other means.

Matthew 4:8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them. This was possibly Mt. Nebo, 2644 elevation. Not too far from there, Moses viewed the Holy Land.

When Satan came to Jesus this third time he risked all by throwing off his counterfeit cloak and allowing Jesus to see who he really was... the devil. He did not appear as a hideous monster with cloven hoofs and bat's wings. Remember, Satan is still an angel, a fallen angel.

In this temptation the devil worked another miracle. He showed Christ ALL the kingdoms of the world, in "a moment of time" - Luke. He only showed the good part of "his" kingdoms to Christ. The marble palaces, fertile fields, fruit laden vineyards. All hints of evil were veiled. Matt. 4:9 And saith unto Him, All these things will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me. "All You have to do is this once. You fall down. You worship me. I own all of this. I will give it to You."

The real temptation here was to get possession of the world unlawfully. Satan said: "You don't need to suffer and die to obtain the world. Why suffer?" Now Satan says, "Avoid all this pain. I own it all, and will give it all to you, just worship me this once."

It was a lie! Satan was not the owner of the world. He was trying to sell "Hot" merchandise. He had stolen it from Adam and Eve. Satan insinuated that Christ would get something for nothing. But really Christ would have Nothing for Something! Christ would have gotten stolen merchandise for the price of His own eternal life, and that of every one else too. Satan proposed that God, the Incarnate should worship the devil!

Matthew 4:10. Then saith Jesus unto him, "Get thee hence Satan: for it is written, (quoting again) Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and Him only shalt thou serve."

Notice that Jesus did not dilly-dally with the devil. Jesus stepped right in and instantly met the temptation. Immediately Jesus met the attack. When you are tempted, instantly call on Jesus to help you. James 4:7. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. When Jesus commanded the devil to leave, he had to leave. The Bible says that, and he did. We need to realize that the devil will leave. The first thing you need to do when you're tempted is to command the devil to leave in the name of Jesus Christ.

All three of these temptations are summed up in I John 2:16. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

  1. - the lust of the flesh, -(turning stones to bread)
  2. - lust of the eyes -(seeking success by sensationalism)
  3. - pride of life - (to gain the world by avoiding the cross)

Matthew 4:11. Then the devil left him and angels came and ministered unto him. In Luke 4:13 it says, And when the devil had ended all temptation, he departed from Him for a season. That is, until another opportunity came. Does the devil ever really leave us? If you meet one temptation, does that mean that you've conquered them all? Not at all! He will be back.

Christ fell totally exhausted. Angels from heaven came and gave Him bread that sustained Him. They ministered unto Him. I am thrilled that we have Jesus as our Savior. I am thrilled that He overcame that temptation. And I am thrilled that He was victorious. He would rather die than sin! Christ had succeeded where Adam and Eve had not. He overcame for you and for me.

Hebrews 4:15 (NIV). For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have One who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin. Praise God for Jesus Christ.

Hymn of Praise: #7, The Lord in Zion Reigneth
Scripture: Luke 4:1-4
Hymn of Response: #343, I will Sing of My Redeemer 

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