Many valuable lessons can be learned from a study of the temptations of Jesus. There are three accounts of the temptations (Matt. 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13). Jesus began his personal ministry by going about 60 miles to be baptized of John the Immerser (John 1:33). After His baptism He was led "by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." The devil is the great tempter, the original tempter. The devil is real, apparently a fallen angel (Jude 6; 2 Pet. 2:4). It is my opinion that the devil is indeed "alive," but not on planet earth; but in "chains" and in darkness, restrained and reserved for the day of final judgment. His work is being continued by evil men.
Jesus met the arch enemy of God and man in this conflict that had eternal consequences for all people of all ages hanging in the balance. Jesus was "tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 2:14-18; 4:14-16). He was completely victorious over the devil. Furthermore, He went on to ultimate victory (for us) and through His death He rendered "powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil..." (I assume the devil is still "powerless.") How glorious the victory which climaxed in His bodily resurrection from the dead, thus providing victory for any and all who obey Him as their Lord and Savior (Heb. 5:8-9).
Jesus was "led by the Spirit...to be tempted by the devil." There is no sin in being tempted. It is the yielding to evil when tempted that is sin. Let's look at this first temptation. For forty days He did eat nothing and afterward He hungered. "And the tempter came and said to Him, 'If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.' The devil's "if" strikes at the very faith of Christ; and faith is the bond of union and accord between man and God. It seems that the main sin in this temptation was therefore distrust of the Father, but it had other sinful phases. Only a few days before, after His baptism, the Father's voice had declared directly from heaven the Sonship of Jesus. Satan here boldly questions or places doubt upon God's words. The act suggested "command that these stones become bread" --seems not only innocent, but in accordance with Jesus' dignity. Considering the dignity, who He is, and power of Jesus, why should He be hungry? He has the power to provide. Thus the temptation to distrust His Father and provide for Himself. The temptation appealed to the present appetite, the impulse of the moment, as many of our temptations do. This is a frequent temptation to the poor -- if they really are the beloved objects of God's care, their condition would be otherwise. We should note that Jesus wrought no selfish miracle, He did not use miraculous power, to obtain food.
Note how Jesus met this temptation: "But He answered and said, 'It is written, man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God"' Observe the use Jesus made of Scripture. He here affirms the verbal inspiration of what is written as "every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." You can't get any higher authority to put a stamp of infallibility upon what is written in the Scriptures. His appeal was to the Scriptures -- "it is written." In His hour of trial He did not look to visions and voices and special revelation. There were no intuitive urges, dreams, or hunches. Not even any special or miraculous help or guidance from the Holy Spirit. He used the written word, such as was available to them then. This was His guide and source of strength. It is (was) complete and sufficient. In this great conflict with Satan, He did not defend Himself by His divine or miraculous wisdom, but used that wisdom which God had revealed to all Israel through the prophets. Jesus fought as a man (Phil. 2:6-7), and used that weapon or resource which God had given to man -- the Scriptures (Eph. 6:17). It is vital that we understand that Jesus did not separate Himself from His brethren (man -- the human being) and provide for Himself in a way not open to us, for that would have been to reverse the very purpose of His incarnation and defeat His whole work.
Let those who tend to belittle the Scriptures as inadequate or not enough for all our needs, those who feel the need for something more, take note of this important lesson from these examples of Jesus. He relied solely upon the word of God where He found the needed help -- the answer! Some move to the emotional, but indescribable, actual personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit as something needed in addition of the Scriptures. While denied by those who affirm this personal indwelling of the Spirit, it seems to me that the desire for such is prima facie evidence of the lack of faith in the power and sufficiency of the written word of God. Jesus' total dependence upon "it is written" and nothing else, ought to be sufficient to convince us of the complete adequacy of the word of God to provide all of our needs in this regard. Have faith, my brethren, in "it is written."
Jesus used the Scripture as the final, argument-ending authority. To "it is written" He made His appeal. Jesus permitted Satan neither to question or pervert the Scripture. He thus demonstrated for us its power, adequacy, and completeness. Nothing else is needed and nothing else is available! "Man" -- note how Jesus thus identifies with us as "man" --"shall not live by bread alone but by every word...of God." That is, by every word that is written. We have no oral word of God today.
God is not "speaking" or "revealing" directly to anyone today; yet many preachers (Roberts, Swaggart, etc.) disarm and deceive millions with their assertions that God has spoken directly to them. It is a lie.
It should be noted that Jesus said it is by "every word...of God." It takes "every word...of God" to have all that God has provided on whatever subject. To "it is written" we are limited and restricted. There is nothing else, no other source of truth (John 17:17). This is as true today as it was then. With the completion of the New Covenant Scriptures we are blessed with additional revelation, the fullness of truth as it is in Christ Jesus (John 1:17; 14:6).
Are you governed solely by "it is written," as Jesus exemplified? Do we understand and know it sufficiently to withstand the onslaughts of temptation? David had the idea: "Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee." To please God we must be guided by what is written, not by what is not written. Today many feel fully justified to act if there is nothing written against what they want to do. In this folly many will thus offer Him service of their own will and expect God to be pleased; as is true of those Jesus refers to in Matt. 7:21-23. One must do "the will of God" in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, please and serve God. His will is found in "it is written" not in the "silence" of God or where He has never provided guidance. Today many feel free to act and render service to God about which He has said nothing; and which there is no "it is written" to guide them.
"It is written" is the security we need to withstand temptation and serve God. Do you really know what is "written"? -- CAH.