Handling the devil — discarding temptation before it blows up in your face

Matthew 4:1-11

The soccer player above narrowly avoided death because he recognized the danger of a grenade on the field (yes, a grenade), then immediately discarded it. Yes, this is real.

When we encounter temptation, are we doing the same? Do we understand how urgent the situation is?

It’s storytime, everyone. Jesus’ temptation is not unique, as you’ll see furth down below. But first, let’s take a look at how He handled each situation.

Temptation #1: Appeal to the flesh
The strategy: The devil knows that Jesus is hungry. He appeals to Jesus’ supernatural powers to produce bread (which wouldn’t require stones).  Some of the stones might have already been the shape of a tasty loaf of bread, making the pull even stronger.
What’s wrong with this?: Jesus had just been baptized, making a public proclamation of His devotion to God.  A quick bite to eat doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it demonstrates His lack of dependence on God’s provision.
Jesus’ response: Jesus does not deny that He’s hungry, but He puts the emphasis on the Word being His sustenance.

Temptation #2: Appeal to skepticism
The strategy: The devil recognizes that Jesus has power over all things — including angels.  But Jesus, being confined to a fleshly body, is now prone to emotion and pain, just like ourselves. He encourages Jesus to test the Father’s insistence on protecting His Son.
What’s wrong with this?: Jesus could easily get a thrill out of this base-jumping experience, and certainly heaven wouldn’t let the guy get bruised. But the devil is trying to pull the same trick as the dupe on Adam: is He really God? Would he really catch you?
Jesus’ response: Brandishing the OT once again, He retorts by returning the authority to the Father.  His position of submission to the Father would carry Him all the way to the cross, and Jesus knows this.

Temptation #3: Appeal to power/authority
The strategy: Put Jesus on top of the world, giving Him a convincing viewpoint of what He could control, forever.
What’s wrong with this?: This idea compromises Jesus’ mission and screws up prophecy pretty good. Jesus did not come to start up a world government and coerce followers — which, ironically, would be proponents of Satan himself — but to establish a heavenly kingdom that would actually rule forever.  Jesus created the world Himself — wouldn’t He know it was temporary?
Jesus’ response: He is not remotely concerned with bowing down to someone else — or even splitting time. There is only one God.

Cool story, bro.  Why should I care?
Did you know we’re prompted to succumb to these temptations every day?
Appeal to the flesh: Are you controlled by God, or controlled by impulse?
Appeal to skepticism: Is God real to you?  Do you even care?
Appeal to power/authority: Where does God rank in the hierarchy of your life? Is “self” at the top?

If you don’t believe you’re prone or that these are all made up, you’re lying to yourself.  The key is to become aware of it, and then get rid of it immediately. Although Scripture doesn’t reveal the length of time, Jesus saw what was coming, and the first response was a counter with the Word. May we have the propensity to do the same, every day.

Get rid of it before it blows up in your face. Too overt of a pun? Yep.

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