Jesus' Temptation in the Desert | Luke 4:1-13

Welcome to Real Life. Rule of War: Know your enemy. 

When I step towards God, I step away from evil. The enemy loses ground. He’s not happy. He’ll fight to regain it. To defeat his attacks, it helps if I recognize his strategies. 

Image from Catholic Online
Satan was about to lose critical ground in this world, for the Son of God was about to launch his public ministry. First, Jesus prepares by spending 40 days fasting and praying in the desert. He’s hungry. That's when the enemy strikes.

Evil Strategy 1 – Plant doubt.    IF you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.
Jesus came to save us from our sins.[1] Only God can do this. If Jesus doubted his identity, he could not fulfill his mission.

Satan easily cripples me with doubt. You call yourself a child of God, writer, teacher, (fill in the blank)? You’re selfish, weak, pitiful. How can God use someone like you?

Evil Strategy 2 – Attack when weak.    Tell this stone to become bread.
Jesus is physically weak after fasting forty days. I’m more susceptible to temptation when I’m tired or hungry. After teaching on Sunday morning, the attacks came lying in bed Sunday night. You shouldn't have said that in class. You’re wasting everyone’s time. Don’t ever teach again.

Jesus’ defense: “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone ...’”
God’s Word is truth. Truth is powerful! Jesus countered temptation with truth: "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord" (Deut. 8:3). Ultimately, God sustains me. His words give life 

Evil Strategy 3 – Pervert legitimate needs.    Tell this stone to become bread.
Hunger is a God-given drive to meet a legitimate need. Satan tempts Jesus to meet a legitimate need in an illegitimate way: by obeying Satan rather than God.

I’m continually tempted to meet legitimate needs in illegitimate ways: hunger through overindulgence, sexual desire through immorality, affirmation through perfectionism, and on and on. My deepest needs are wholly met in God alone.

Evil Strategy 4 – Take a shortcut.    If you worship me, it will all be yours.
The enemy has limited power and authority to give. God holds ultimate power and authority. Satan offers Christ a shortcut to temporary power. Hilter, Stalin, bin Laden all bit this apple. (Where are they today?)

Jesus’ defense:    “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
Anything that’s more important to me than God has become an idol. Idols provide temporary power, relief, or pleasure. In the end, they enslave and destroy. Ask an addict. God’s way is not quick and easy (the cross was not easy), but it is best.

Evil Strategy 5 – Mix in truth to legitimize the lie.    “Throw yourself down … angels will rescue you.”[2]
Angels are sent to rescue those in genuine need, not an artificially created need.

Jesus’ defense:    “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”
God protects me as his child. But, only a fool stands in the path of a coming train to test his protection. God won’t participate in my foolishness. He won’t perform tricks for me. 

Satan leaves—defeated. Jesus wins! I can win, too. God is for me. Who can stand against me?[3]

Dear Heavenly Father, lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from the evil one.[4]

What helps you fight temptation?

Taking it further …
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”

The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

Image from Catholic Online:
[1] “…you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matt. 1:21
[2] Psalm 91:11-12
[3] Romans 8:31
[4] Matthew 6:13 NIV


  1. Hi,

    I saw your article come in on my ticker as I sit here working, and my inner voice said read it. I was a little down and must say thank you.

    This is one great practical and helpful way of dealing with the attacks that we as Christians come under, and it is also an eye opener for people who are not Christians. I don't know how many times I am caught on my blindside (like right now) by Satan when he tries to convince me that I am inferior, alone, or too old to do something.

    It happens every time I am preparing for a concert, or preparing to do a sermon to our kids in our church, or getting ready to write an article, or getting ready to learn my italian, and I can go on and on.

    There are times when I am constantly fighting against doubts, and my weapon is the word of God, or I am fighting against taking the shortcut, and again, I have to use the word of God to be victorious.

    There are no short cuts to reaching your goals. Some of my favorite verses come from James 1:2-8. I love how James sets up the gain in our lives and puts the dot over the i by saying that with perseverance it produces hope and hope does not disappoint us.

    So, thank you my dear friend because I needed to read this today. My wings are beginning to flap once more, and I am ready to take to the air because you have strengthened my hope.

    Love you, Peggi.


  2. Wow, Patricia! Thanks so much for your encouraging words. You don't know how much they meant to me today. I've been battling discouragement about the blog lately. (Why am I surprised?) And, feeling like "Why do I bother?"

    Your have given me wings as well! Love you, Sister! Peg

  3. Hello again my dear friend,

    Just wanted to correct my Bible passage. The passage that I meant is in Romans and it is chapter 5:1-8. I believe that is correct. James 1:2-8 is also good. It strengthens us when we are battling doubts and Paul tells us in this chapter of Romans why it is so necessary to persevere.

    Have a blessed day, Lady, and hang in there. You are writing for a purpose. Maybe that purpose has not yet been revealed, but that's okay as long as you know who is Captain of your life, because he will never fail you.
    Love you, Peggi.


  4. Peggi, Let me also encourage you. Your writing and teaching (because you teach as you write here) are powerful. You let the Word speak, and you do it with meekness and awe. I love to read your work.

    1. Thanks, Sean, for your beautiful words of encouragement!


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