I have a friend who has taken some weight off and as far as I can tell, kept it off. She attests that when she has been tempted on a diet, her answer has been to say to herself, “I will eat that again – I just won’t be eating it now.” Aha. That’s good. And I believe it is one of the great secrets to overcoming temptation.
People have been asking how to overcome temptation for thousands of years, and Jesus’ classic battle with Satan in the wilderness provides some clues as to the answer. We know, for instance, that we must use the Word of God. Jesus fought the enemy with this powerful weapon, and we should too.
But what else? Well, I think there are some interesting clues in this chapter, and we should be careful to take note. Here’s what I mean: to oversimplify it, Satan’s temptations to Jesus included eating bread, counting on angels to rescue him, and ruling the world (fame and fortune, so to speak). And I believe that after Jesus successfully resists the enemy, he is granted each of these as a gift from God, and in a brief period of time after the great battle.
There is no mention of bread, of course, but we know he ate that again. But what about the other two? Well, consider verse 11…
Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
– Matthew 4:11 (ESV)
So He avoided the sin of testing God and he didn’t throw himself off the cliff to be rescued by angels ala Psalm 91. But, do you see that in the end, the angels did come to His rescue? They came and ministered to Him. I don’t think it’s a coincidence when Matthew brings up these angels at the end of the temptation.
And of course, as to ruling the world, well, we know that’s coming eventually, and it will come to Jesus without worshiping Satan. But at the end of the chapter, God the Father gives His Son a glimpse of the worship that will appropriately one day be His:
So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan
– Matthew 4:24, 25 (ESV)
The application? Not everything you resist will be yours, of course, but many things we resist will in the end be granted to us, perhaps in a slightly different form but granted nonetheless, and done so…God’s way. And God’s way is always far better than the way of the enemy.
Now, on with those New Year’s diet resolutions: “I’ll be eating that later.” Got to remember to tell myself that.
Tomorrow: January 7, Matthew 5
January 6, 2015 at 7:31 am
In these first few chapters of Matthew, I’ve been struck by the prompt and un-questioning obedience of a few men.
Joseph with Mary and then when told to escape to Egypt.
Today it’s Peter, Andrew, James and John;
“Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him”.
No questions, no hesitation – just obedient.
January 6, 2015 at 7:50 am
Blessings Paul. I’m tempted to think that it had something to do with the manifest presence of the Lord, but I think that isn’t right, for the simple reason that there were others who did not show such obedience. Glory to God for the power of the Holy Spirit and for men who obeyed.
January 6, 2015 at 12:53 pm
I am reminded again after reading this chapter how important it is to understand all of scripture. Yes we can use it to fight temptations and should,however Satan also knows scripture and can twist it to use it against us if we don’t truely understand what it says. We need to be daily in God’s word.
January 6, 2015 at 2:45 pm
Excellent point, Linda!
January 6, 2015 at 2:52 pm
Hey Roger, I’m confused (first time ever) about reading the chapter & following along in your blog. I guess I thought we were supposed to post what we got out of the chapter (which may or may not coincide w/ your thoughts). Some really neat things have “hit” me when meditating on these chapters, but I seem to be way off base, if that’s what I was supposed to learn?
January 6, 2015 at 3:06 pm
Laura, you got it right. You write what you got out of the chapter, Roger writes what he got, and I write what I got. Then I look at your’s and say, “by gummy, she’s got something there I didn’t see.”
That way I’m helped. And if you get something out of what others take from the chapter, then you’re helped.
This isn’t “follow the leader” ……smile. (and I think Roger might agree.)
Now Laura, go ahead and tell us what “hit” you……
January 13, 2015 at 5:13 pm
January 6, 2015 at 5:34 pm
Oh no Laura. My blog is not meant as some sort of “answer key”. I’m just writing about a truth that I saw. There are a multitude of wonderful truths in a passage of God’s word.
January 6, 2015 at 2:58 pm
Matthew 4 shows the importance of knowing scripture. Jesus had two challenges and an offer. #1, Turn the rock to bread. Jesus answered with scripture. So, #2, Satan challenges him to jump, using scripture. Jesus answered with scripture. So, #3, Satan makes him an offer he can’t refuse. but Jesus does refuse, answering with scripture.
This is the reason it is so important for us to know scripture. Know it so well, that when someone gives us a verse that doesn’t apply to the situation, as in Satan’s challenge to jump, we know the proper response.
Often on facebook, I’ll write a response, and get many people jumping on me calling me judgmental, saying “Judge not…” They are right, but in the cases I’m responding to, I’m not judging, I’m giving a warning. Not a threat type of warning either, but a loving warning…like you can never start saving too early for retirement, or, education is important, or, the bridge is out a mile down the road.