Temptation and The Word

Bible Reading: Psalm 119:11; Matthew 4:1-11; 1 John 2:14

The first event recorded by Matthew after Jesus’ baptism is His temptation.  He was “led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.   And the temper came…” (Matthew 4:1-3).  Three times He was tempted.  Three times, He responded by quoting Scripture.  Through it all, He never sinned.  

Jesus never sinned.  Not then, not ever.  He “knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21).  He never thought a sinful thought, never did a sinful deed, never said a sinful word (1 Peter 2:22; Hebrews 4:15).  He perfectly fulfilled the Father’s will in every respect.  Never before or since has there been anyone like Him.  The Devil tempted Adam and Eve and they sinned.  Sin entered man’s existence, and every other soul born since has sinned (Romans 3:23).  But Jesus never sinned.   O Blessed truth!

In his allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan likened our world to a “Vanity Fair” where travelers are enticed by countless temptations: “Almost five thousand years ago … Beelzebub, Apollyon and Legion, with their companions, perceiving that the pilgrims made their way through this town of Vanity, they contrived here to set up a fair wherein should be sold all sorts of vanity, and that it should last all year long.” We live in such a world, and are ever confronted by temptations to seek pleasure, profit, or power apart from God and His will.

John Bunyan wrote also of the temptation of Jesus: “The Prince of Princes Himself went through this town to His own country, and that upon a fair day too; yea, and as I think it was Beelzebub, the chief lord of this fair, that invited Him to buy of his vanities; yea, would have made Him lord of the fair, would He but have done him reverence as He went through the town. Yea, because He was such a person of honor, Beelzebub had Him from street to street, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a little time, that He might, if possible, allure that Blessed One to cheapen and buy some of his vanities; but He had no mind to the merchandise and therefore left the town without laying out so much as one farthing upon these vanities.”

Jesus knew no sin—He never sinned.  He was therefore qualified to be offered up as a substitutionary sacrifice for us as a “lamb unblemished and spotless” (1 Peter 1:19).  Because of His death and resurrection, He provides for the believer salvation from sin in every respect–freedom from its penalty, power, and—in heaven—its presence.

Jesus was tempted with the temptations that are “common to man” (1 Corinthians 10:13)–“the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life” (1 John 2:16; Genesis 3:6).  But He, the Word, responded with the Word (Matthew 4:4,7,10).  In this respect, He has provided for us a great example.  It is as the Word, the sword of the Spirit, is treasured in our hearts, that victory over sin is attained (Psalm 119:11; Ephesians 6:17).  Indeed, the “young men” of First John were commended because they were strong and overcame the evil one.  How were they made strong?  The Word of God abided in them (1 John 2:14; Colossians 3:16).

How precious to know that in this world where sin is an ever-present reality–and terrible and tenacious foe–there is One who never sinned and indeed won the victory over our the devil and death (Hebrews 2:14-15).  And that we’ve been well-provisioned with the armor of God that we might overcome temptation.  Devotion to the Word is an imperative for the believer in Christ.

Either this book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book.”

John Bunyan (handwritten note in the cover of his Bible)


I am weak but Thou art strong;
Jesus, keep me from all wrong;
I’ll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.

Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.

Thro’ this world of toil and snares,
If I falter, Lord, who cares?
Who with me my burden shares?
None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee. [Refrain]

When my feeble life is o’er,
Time for me will be no more;
Guide me gently, safely o’er
To Thy kingdom shore, to Thy shore. [Refrain]

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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