Let's look at the second temptation of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 4:5-7. "Then the devil took Him into the holy city [Jerusalem]; and he stood Him on the pinnacle of the temple..." The verbs "took" and "stood" imply that Satan exercised a control over the bodily person of our Lord. Apparently Jesus was in the hands (power) of Satan for these temptations.
Then Satan said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, 'He shall give His angels charge concerning you; and on their hands they shall bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone'." A righteous life rests on faith. The life the devil would have us lead rests on ifs and uncertainties, on doubt and skepticism. Here again the tempter comes with his "if." The first temptation was to under-confidence (distrust); this one is to over-trust (presumption or false trust) -- two very dangerous conditions of the soul. For example, men may begin by disparagingly doubting that Jesus can save them from their sins and end by recklessly presuming that He will save them in their sins. We must ever pray: "Lord, increase our faith" and "Lord, keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins."
Note that the devil here quotes Scripture himself. The devil's head is full of Scripture, but to no profit, for his heart is empty. He would thus wrest this defense from Jesus which He had so successfully used to stop Satan in the first temptation. Satan seems to imply, "Since You have placed so much faith and trust in what is written, I will give You some Scripture to obey." So he seized a passage for his use, to serve his unholy purpose. And he has been doing this ever since through his angels and servants. The devil quotes Psalms 91:11-12 to teach: "Throw Yourself down and have no fear for God has promised to care for and protect you." The temptation is an appeal to Jesus to be more religious, to put more trust and reliance upon the promises of the Father. And the devil wisely puts Jesus in the place - on the temple in Jerusalem - where he might argue that God could least afford to let His promise fail.
Let us learn that the devil, and many of those who serve him, quotes Scriptures when such will serve His purpose. What could demonstrate more faith or trust than an act of daring based upon "faith" which was indeed based upon a word which proceeded "out of the mouth of God?" The heroic way to display trust, Satan says, and uses Scripture to prove it, is to test some promise of God to the limit and on the instant. Prove that God's promise is true! Did not God say it? Indeed so. Well, then act upon it and show your faith. Today the same sort of testing takes place. "Handle the poisonous snakes and demonstrate your faith." "Plant your seed -faith and send $100 even if you have to borrow it or do without needs." "Throw away your crutches and walk." By quoting Scripture the devil would thus attempt to block any further use by Jesus of the Scriptures; he would thus wrest the sword of the Spirit from Jesus' hand. The devil shows himself an expert in handling -distorting or twisting - the Scripture.
A vital lesson for us today: Someone's mere quoting Scripture should not silence us, nor is that necessarily the end of the matter. The Scripture may be misused or misapplied. Paul told Timothy that he must "be diligent to present yourself approved to God...handling accurately the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15). By handling the word of truth inaccurately error or false doctrine can be made to appear as a "word from the mouth of God" and multitudes can be deceived thereby. Many apparently deliberately pervert the Scriptures (Gal. 1:6-9). It is in this way that it seems we can "prove" anything by the Bible. The babel of conflicting doctrines in the religious world today is living proof that "the word of truth" is perverted and used to sustain error. Peter tells us that "the untaught and unstable distort (twist or misapply)...the Scriptures to their own destruction" (2 Pet. 3:16). This tells how serious such a misuse of the Scripture can be.
The deception in the use of the Scripture by Satan lies in setting one Scripture against another or using one Scripture and ignoring others relating to the same subject when the others may explain, limit, or expand the truth. One statement from God is stressed and others that relate to it are ignored. This trick or perversion is constantly practiced, often on a large scale, when a mass of Scriptures are combined in such a way that it makes the Bible seem to teach what it most certainly does not teach; in fact, openly contradicts elsewhere in the plainest language. All the truth on the subject is needed.
The deception of Satan in his use of the Scripture was the stressing of one Scripture and ignoring others relating to the same subject. Now, let's note Jesus' response to Satan's use of the Scriptures: "On the other hand, it is written, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God"' Other translations give it as "Again it is written" or "It is also written." Jesus acknowledges the Scripture that Satan quoted, but He denies Satan's application or use of it. Jesus answers by emphasizing that "It is also written." There is more on the subject, other instruction or guidance, that must be considered, and Satan ignored this. Jesus does not set one Scripture against another. He places one Scripture beside another and thus establishes the great principle that Scripture Is Explained By Scripture! Scripture(s) must not be used in isolation. All the truth, even on a given subject, is rarely, if ever, found in one passage alone.
For example, all the truth about salvation is not found in John 3:16 alone and only the unthinking can be made to believe such. To make such a claim for John 3:16 is to use the Scripture as Satan did with Jesus; and one is serving Satan's purpose to so use it. Yes, indeed, John 3:16 teaches the truth; just as Psalms 91:11-12, which Satan used, teaches the truth. But neither of them contain all the truth on the subject discussed. The Bible is not made up of isolated texts. To get the right understanding we must compare Scripture with Scripture.
In the present case of Jesus and Satan, all is clear: Psalms 91:11-12 must not be given a meaning and pressed to clash with Deut. 6:16 --"Thou shalt not test out (make trial of) the Lord, thy God." As Jesus put it: "It is also written" and what is included in that "also written" is vital. We must ever search for that "also written" and with an honest and good heart accept it.
We need more than John 3:16 to learn the truth about salvation from sins. Without doubt "whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." But we need to ask if there is an "It is also written;" is there more on the subject? What believer is it that has this assurance or promise of eternal life? James says that "the demons believe and tremble" (James 2:19). Does the promise in John 3:16 apply to them? If not, why not? They are believers indeed; but surely they are not included in this promise. Hence, not all believers are included. There must be more "also written" to help explain which or what believer is meant. Does the believer of John 3:16 have to repent (Acts 17:30)? How do you know? John 3:16 does not even mention repentance. Does the believer of John 3:16 have to love God to be saved and have eternal life (Matt. 22:37; 1 Cor. 13:1-3)? You won't learn the answer from John 3:16. Furthermore, does the believer contemplated in John 3:16 have to be baptized as Jesus required (Matt 28:19; Mark 16:16)? Of course, baptism is not mentioned in the passage; hence, many argue that this proves that baptism is not therefore essential. Imagine the folly, lack of good common sense, as well as the erroneous conclusion reached, by trying to prove what baptism is for or not for, whether it is essential or not, by a passage(s) that does not even mention it! Yet by this snare thousands are trapped in the error that baptism is not essential to salvation. Of course, baptism is not mentioned in John 3:16; but it does not mention repentance, confession, or love either. Are all of these thereby proved to be non-essential to salvation or eternal life? The believer that is saved or has eternal life is a particular, identified believer; the one who has repented, loves God, confesses Jesus and further demonstrates or shows that faith by obeying the Lord in baptism (Acts 2:38).
Let us learn well the lesson that "it is also written." -- CAH