Facing Temptation
Lesson 3

For more than a thousand years the Jewish people had awaited the coming of the Messiah. Not only did their brightest hopes rest on this event but in song and prophecy, in temple rite and household prayer, they had enshrined His name. And yet at His coming they knew Him not.

As we reflect back on this history, we find ourselves amazed that those who had been called to preserve the knowledge of God’s law and of the symbols and prophecies that pointed to Christ and His work could be so blind as to fail to recognize Him when He came. Closer observation, however, reveals the reason. Israel had fixed their hopes upon worldly greatness and restoration of Israel’s greatness. Christ and His mission did not fit comfortably with their expectations.

It has always been one of Satan’s most successful devices to lead men to unrealistic expectations, thus preparing them to reject the genuine article. Having used this device with such marked success in the past, we would be extremely naïve to believe he would discard it as a useful tool and not endeavor to insinuate it into the faith and practices of the Christian church. To better understand the restoration process we will now turn our attention to the clearest presentation of that purpose in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.

1. Following His baptism, where did Jesus immediately go?

Matthew 4:1
Matthew 4:1

When Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted, He was led by the Spirit; He did not not invite temptation. Too often Christ’s professed followers place themselves in temptation’s way where they are apt to be tempted and almost certain to fall. It is important that we understand our own character and the sin which most easily besets us. Keeping in mind the temptations to which we will be most likely overcome, we should not expose ourselves needlessly and invite temptation by placing ourselves upon the enemy’s ground. Self-knowledge, rightly applied, would save many an inglorious defeat.

The temptations by which Christ was beset in the wilderness—appetite, love of the world, and presumption, are the three powerful attractions by which men are most frequently overcome.

Appetite

2. What was the first temptation Christ was assailed with?

Matthew 4:3
Matthew 4:3

Note: Christ had just completed a fast of 40 days and was weak with hunger. However, in coming to be our example, He had taken our humanity and for Him to have exercised His divine power to relieve His need would have placed Him in the position of doing that which we cannot do, and on this point He would have been an imperfect example. He had been led by the Spirit to the place He was at and He would await God’s time to bring relief. He testified to the truth that it is a less calamity to suffer whatever may befall us than to follow Satan’s suggestions and depart from the will of God.

Presumption

3. What was the second temptation Christ met?

Matthew 4:5-6
Matthew 4:5-6

Note: In resisting Satan’s first temptation, Christ had quoted scripture. Thinking to meet Him on His own ground, Satan presented scripture but the temptation was prefaced with the insinuation of distrust, “If Thou be the Son of God.” Moreover, in quoting from Psalms, Satan only quoted a portion of the verse causing to suggest something quite different from the meaning. The rest of the verse says, “to keep thee in all they ways,” that is the ways of God’s leading. It is not only important that we know the Scriptures, but that we know them well enough to recognize when they are being misquoted or misapplied.

Many fail to distinguish between the rashness of presumption and the intelligent confidence of faith. Presumption is Satan’s counterfeit of faith. Faith claims God’s promises, and produces obedience in the life to all God’s revealed will. Presumption also claims the promises, but uses them as Satan did, to excuse transgression.

4. What was Christ’s response?

Matthew 4:7
Matthew 4:7

Note: While resting in perfect trust in His Father’s care, Christ would not place Himself unbidden in a position that would require the interposition of His Father to save His life. Christ refused to imperil His life to give evidence to Satan.

5. What is promised to us when we are assailed by fierce temptation?

1 Corinthians 10:13
1 Corinthians 10:13

Note: It was not within Satan’s power to force Christ to cast himself down from the temple. Sin is always an act of the will. Satan cannot control our minds; the will must first consent. He can tempt and annoy, but if we maintain our hold upon the Saviour, he cannot control our will. God’s promise to us is that He will never allow a temptation to come to us that is irresistible while we maintain our connection with Christ.

Love of the World

6. What did Satan then offer to give Christ in return for His worship?

Matthew 4:8-9
Matthew 4:8-9

Note: In his statement to Christ that the kingdom and the glory of the world were his, Satan stated only what was true in part. Satan could only claim that which was Adam’s and which he had gained control of in overcoming him. Adam had not been an independent ruler but ruled subject to the Creator. Christ was the rightful ruler and it was to contest Satan’s rulership and take away his dominion that Christ had come. Satan can exercise his assumed authority only as God permits.

7. Of what significance to us is Christ’s complete victory over Satan?

1 Peter 2:21-22
1 Peter 2:21-22

Note: We often hear it said that it is what Jesus has done for us, and not anything that we can do for ourselves, that will secure heaven for us. And, while this may be true in one sense, in another it is not true. There is a work for us to do. Jesus was our perfect example and we are to be like Him, free from the defilement of sin. It is important that we study the pattern more closely. Continual dedication and faithfulness in purpose establish so close a relationship between Jesus and His disciple that the Christian becomes like Him in mind and character.

8. What is God’s promise to us in our conflict with Satan?

2 Peter 2:9
2 Peter 2:9

Note: We cannot save ourselves from Satan’s power, nor in our own strength resist; he has conquered humanity and when we stand in our own strength we are easily overcome. However, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.” Proverbs 18:10

9. What is God’s Word in our hearts able to accomplish in our lives?

Psalm 119:11
Psalm 119:11

Note: Satan tempted the first Adam in Eden, and Adam reasoned with the enemy, thus giving him the advantage. This power he strove to exercise over Christ, but Christ repulsed him with the words of Scripture, refusing to enter into dialogue with him, thus denying him any advantage. Our safety is in an intelligent understanding of, and reliance upon, God’s Word.

10. Having acquainted ourselves with God’s Word, what then is our part?

James 4:7
James 4:7

Note: Heavenly agencies will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves; they only await our co-operation. While it is Christ only that can redeem us from the penalty of transgression, we are to turn from sin to obedience. Man is to be saved by faith, not by works; yet his faith must be shown by his works.

11. What is the mark of distinction between the true Christian and the mere professor?

Matthew 7:16–18
Matthew 7:16–18

Note: In religion profession means nothing without works that correspond. Those who have heard the Word of God and received it into the soul will give evidence of that fact by good works.

12. In the Judgment, what will Christ say to those who profess a relationship to Him, but have failed to render obedience?

Matthew 7:21–23
Matthew 7:21–23

Note: Though pleasant to the natural heart, it is a delusion to believe that God will accept our sincerity no matter what may be the faith, no matter how imperfect the life. God requires of His creatures perfect conformity to His revealed will.

You may search the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and you will find only two groups of people—those who are obedient through faith in Jesus and those who are not. Each is promised a reward at the end, and in both cases it is rendered according as his works have been. See Revelation 20:13; 22:12.

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