The first temptation is satisfying our desires outside of God.
And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “ If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” Matthew 4:2-3
Hunger is a legitimate need. But we can be tempted to satisfy our desires or needs through illegitimate means. God will allow us to go without some things to see whether we will trust Him to meet our needs or look for ways outside of Him.
We’ll be tempted with the desire to satisfy ourselves, rather than go without and submit to God.
In Exodus 16: 3, when the Israelites got hungry in the wilderness, they grumbled and lusted over what they ate in Egypt instead of trusting God to satisfy their needs.
But he answered, “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4
The Israelites couldn’t overcome the lust of the flesh. They couldn’t get past their flesh. They tied God’s hands until he gave them what they wanted. But Jesus did, he knew we cannot lean on God until we learn to train our flesh to go without.
When we don’t have physical bread God becomes our living bread. We get to a place where we know that we can do without physical things because His word gives us life.
The second temptation is tempting God.
Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “ If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “he will command his angels concerning you,’ and “ on their hand s they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” Matthew 4:5-6
Satan here asks Jesus to put God to the test by throwing himself down.
The Hebrew word here is Nacah, which means to put to the test, try, or tempt.
When we test God we ask Him to prove Himself. We test God when we demand God to prove Himself to us. We can also tempt God by trying to manipulate situations to force God to fulfill a promise to us. This is what Satan asked Jesus to do.
Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, “you shall not put the Lord your God to the test. “Matthew 4: 7
We are told of the Israelites in the wilderness, they willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved. They spoke against God; they said, “Can God really spread a table in the wilderness. Psalm 78:18-19
The Amplified says …they asked for food according to their [selfish] appetite.
When we have selfish desires we will demand God to prove Himself to us. We’ll demand He fulfills his promises to us instead of waiting for His perfect timing. God has a plan and timing. However, we will not see the fulfillment of what we are asking for until we lay down our selfish lusts.
We can keep testing God with our selfish desires until He gives in and lets us have our lusts.
The day God gives us our lust is the day we die.
This is what happened to the Israelites, But they lusted intensely in the wilderness. And tempted God [with their insistent desires] in the desert. So he gave them their requests but sent a wasting disease among them. Psalm 106: 14-15
They could go without, they tied His hands, he gave them their requests, and let them die in the wilderness.
We’ll either submit our selfish desires to God and allow Him to purify them or we’ll die because we won’t stop putting Him to the test.
The third temptation is worship.
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you if you will fall down and worship me.” Matthew 4:8-9
Satan tempted Jesus on whom He will worship. We’ll either worship God or we’ll worship other things. Satan doesn’t care what we worship as long as our worship isn’t directed to God.
Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! for it is written,” You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.” Matthew 4:10
The Israelites exchanged God’s worship for idols. At Horeb, they made a calf and worshipped an idol cast from metal. They exchanged their glorious God for an image of a bull, which eats grass. They forgot the God who saved them, who had done great things in Egypt. Psalm 106:19-21
We can exchange God for idols. We can worship things and people instead of God. We can be tempted to believe we aren’t idolatrous because we don’t cast idols out of metals.
But John writes, little children, keep yourselves from idols ( false gods)- [ from anything and everything that would occupy the place of God in your heart due to God, from any sort of substitute for Him that would take first place in your life]. 1 John 5:21 AMPC
We don’t have to fashion metal objects to have idols. Anything that takes God’s place in our hearts is an idol. Anything that we substitute for God in our lives is an idol. And the enemy knows this, so he tempts us to place things before God in our hearts.
Here is a little test for idols… Is there anything in your life you cannot or will not lay down for God? Is there something you believe you can’t live without or can’t imagine living without? That my sis, is an idol.
In this study, we see a parallel between Jesus and the Israelites. When Jesus was tempted, He was without sin, but when the Israelites were tempted, they fell every time. We will either follow Jesus’ example and overcome temptation, or we’ll follow the Israelites example.
Here is the good news, we are promised help.So let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrew 4:16
We can overcome every temptation the enemy throws at us because we have received grace.