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The Power of God in Temptation - part 3

December 10, 2017 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series:

Topic: Temptation Verse: Luke 4:1–4:13

Luke 4:1-13

Theme: The Word of God in the hands of the Spirit of God provides us strength to overcome temptation to the glory of God. 

I. There is Purpose in Temptation – 4:1

A. The Presence of God’s Spirit

  • Luke now takes us to a powerful account of Jesus’ qualification as the Messiah - that is, the ability to address the issue of sin as an overcomer.
  • Everything that God calls upon you and me to do, Jesus did - without failing in any sense.
  • This account provides the pattern by which we ourselves must approach temptation - both in mindset, spirit, and practical application of truth in situations where we are vulnerable.
  • We are told that “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan …”
  • The awareness of Jesus being “full of the Holy Spirit” is key as we recognize that His temptations were always met by the power of the Holy Spirit - not in His own strength.
  • Jesus had surrendered the manifestation of His glory through the use of His divine attributes and became obedient in all things to the Spirit of God - cp. Philippians 2:5-8
  • As Jesus responded to the Holy Spirit, He did so perfectly and was blessed by a faithful provision by God of the Holy Spirit’s presence - cp. John 3:34
  • Jesus’ life and ministry was completely devoted to the obedience of the Father through the agency of the Holy Spirit - cp. Isaiah 11:1-2; 61:1-2; Hebrews 9:14
  • This was so complete that to speak against the works of Christ was to speak against the honor and authority of the Holy Spirit - cp. Matthew 12:31-32

B. The Priority of God’s Spirit

  • The Holy Spirit is completely devoted to the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus.
  • Therefore, the Spirit’s interaction with Christ was designed to provide Jesus the ability to glorify the Father - including by means of overcoming temptation - “… and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness”
  • One of the reasons that He “was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness” was to demonstrate that temptation is not the product of environment, or exposure to external stimuli, but is something that will be encountered even if we were to become hyper-separatist.
  • Matthew informs us that the Spirit actually led him there to the wilderness in order for Him to be tempted - cp. Matthew 4:1.
  • The Spirit’s agenda for Christ was to place Him in a situation where Christ was able to demonstrate His faithfulness to the Father.
  • What is intended by Satan to be a temptation is considered a test of faithfulness by God – with opportunity to demonstrate integrity, trustworthiness and grace – cp. James 1:2-4.
  • God’s willingness to expose us to various temptations is designed to provide us with the ability to demonstrate His grace, His faithfulness, His love, His protection, His mercy, and the power of His Word through our victory to the result of our blessing – cp. James 1:12.


  • What is God’s purpose for everything that He does?
  • How does this purpose inform your responses to HIm, particularly with reference to temptation?
  • Read Galatians 5:16-17 … why do you fail in temptation when you do?

II. There Is Persistence in Temptation – 4:2

A. The Constant Harassment by the Devil

  • Luke informs us that He was “in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil …”
  • We are told that Satan is the enemy of our souls - whose entire purpose is to destroy and kill - John 8:44
  • He does everything he possibly can to interfere with the glory of God - His essential or core value.
  • He is identified in Scripture as “the tempter” - cp. 1 Thessalonians 3:5.
  • Peter describes him as a “roaring lion” seeking to devour - 1 Peter 5:8.
  • Here Luke informs us that Jesus was constantly harassed by Satan - certainly not only during these 40 days but throughout Jesus’ earthly existence - cp. Luke 22:28.

B. The Constant Harassment by Our Desires

  • In addition, Jesus suffered from the same natural cravings or desires as do we - “… and when they had ended, He became hungry.”
  • Satan apparently reserved his greatest attacks on Christ for when he thought Jesus’ was most vulnerable, when Jesus’ cravings were clearly intense.
  • “forty days” is a critical period in such a fast - as fasting occurs, hunger comes and goes with varying levels of intensity and diminishes significantly once one gets past a certain stage.
  • However, around the 40 day mark, there is a ferocious resurgence of hunger that was apparently when Satan chose to attack.


  • When can you relax from defending against temptation?
  • How do your physical and spiritual impulses interact?
  • What is the result when Satan is more committed to your failure than you are to your faithfulness? Who can help you sustain your ability to overcome?
  • There is Provision in Temptation - 4:3-12

A. The Provision When Tempted to Dismiss God’s Wisdom - vv. 3-4

  • Satan comes with his diabolical strategy to Jesus when He was at His weakest - “And the devil said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.’”
  • We are told that Jesus was finished with the fast and was free to eat.
  • However, there weren’t provisions yet for food - He was still in the wilderness.
  • Therefore, Satan was attempting to lure Jesus to question God’s goodness by allowing Him to be in a situation where He was without what God had withheld from Him.
  • Therefore, Satan urges Jesus to do something independently from God - provide for Himself since God had not provided for Him.
  • He tempted Jesus to indulge Himself since the Father had not provided for Him.
  • Yet Jesus was devoted to God and God’s purpose and wisdom - refusing to act in a manner that questioned God’s wisdom - “And Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live on bread alone.”’”
  • Jesus completely trusts God’s wisdom and would wait until God had given Him his “daily bread” - even as He taught us to pray - cp. Luke 11:3.
  • This was a demonstration that Jesus trusted God’s wisdom and that He continued to seek righteousness as determined by God and His Word - cp. Matthew 6:31-33.
  • This has been described as Jesus overcoming the “lust of the flesh” – cp. 1 John 2:16; James 3:13-18.

B. The Provision When Tempted to Dodge God’s Will - vv. 5-8

  • The next temptation sought to capitalize on Jesus great pangs of hunger and desire for self-preservation.
  • He essentially points to the ultimate purpose for Jesus coming - to deliver the world from the power of Satan and to restore the glory of God on the earth.
  • Thus, Satan “led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.” - apparently a vision that was provided to Jesus placing Jesus on a high mountain – cp. Matthew 4:8.
  • “And the devil said to Him, ‘I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, it You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.’”
  • Although Satan is called the “god of this world,” - cp. 2 Corinthians 4:4 - it does not mean that Satan’s claim is credible - remember He is a liar from the beginning – John 8:44.
  • Nor is it even credible that Satan would yield his authority and pursuit of glory to Jesus should Jesus bow before Satan and worship.
  • One of Satan’s modus operandi is to promise something but deliver something entirely different – bait and switch.
  • Satan was attempting to lure Jesus into dodging God’s will and get to the “ultimate end” in a different way than God had determined – cp. Psalm 2:8.
  • He tempted Jesus to avoid all of the agony awaiting Him at the cross and to get to the same end, but doing things His own way.
  • Jesus response however, demonstrates that God’s glory is the ultimate end of all that He did - “Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.”’”
  • “Christians must beware of the temptation to lose faith in God’s plan, particularly when they are enduring difficult circumstances. There are no shortcuts; God’s way is always best.”[1]
  • We cannot improve upon God’s plan - His will and its fulfillment is what will bring Him the greatest glory.
  • Seeking something better – a better way than God’s, is a distraction from that paths of righteousness and has been described as “the lust of the eyes” – 1 John 2:16.

C. The Provision When Tempted to Dictate God’s Work - vv. 9-12

  • The final temptation in our text is the temptation to obligate God to do what we desire Him to do.
  • Satan attempts to lure Christ into go to an extreme to fulfill God’s “word” in a way that is not consistent with God’s plan.
  • “And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple” – this was the highest point of the largest structure that existed on the earth at the time – a breath-taking height as one approached the city and certainly when standing atop it.
  • He said to Jesus: “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; for it is written, ‘He will command His angels concerning You to guard You,’ and, ‘On their hands they will bear You up, so that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’" – a quote from Psalm 91:11-12
  • Satan was appealing to Jesus to indulge in sensationalism as a way by which He could advance His prestige in the eyes of Israel – a temptation that is often associated with the “pride of life” – cp. 1 John 2:16.
  • Satan will prompt many false christs to use sensationalism to lay claim to the prestige associated with the title – cp. Matthew 24:24
  • However, Jesus responds by demonstrating that His commitment to the Word of God extends to the integrity of the One who gave the Word – Jesus answered and said to him, ‘It is said, “You shall not put the Lord Your God to the test.”’”
  • This is a quote from Deuteronomy 6:16 in reference to the way that Israel had been guilty of doubting God’s compassion and faithfulness to them when they grumbled about not having water – cp. Exodus 17:1-7
  • To have fallen into a condition where he attempted to prove the veracity of God’s Word would be to cause the Father to do what was not actually the will of God and to test the Father to determine whether His Word was true or not.
  • Jesus was well aware of the fact that it was He who was being tested for the purpose of demonstrating His qualification to save all men from their sin - and as such He needed to restrain Himself to what He knew to be the will of God.
  • This kind of temptation is particularly dangerous as it causes people to attempt to prove God and seems to be of faith.

We’ll make a show of calling on God for the blessing of health without observing the rules of health.

We’ll confess that we have faith in Christ for salvation but neglect the obligations that attend such confession.

We’ll dedicate our children and then neglect the nurture and admonition of the Lord necessary to bring them up for Him.

We’ll pray for purity and clean hearts and then fill them with sensual amusements & music thinking that we will not be affected.

Teens will resolve to remain pure but then date casually placing themselves in compromising circumstances.


  • How does Jesus’ responses to temptation differ/demonstrate your own typical responses?
  • Share one word descriptions of how Jesus overcame temptation?
  • In what ways did Jesus establish the pattern for overcoming temptation?


IV. There Are Periods of Temptation - 4:13

A. The Cessation of Temptation

  • As Jesus surrendered to the Holy Spirit and relied upon the power of God’s Word, He overcame temptation - remaining true to God.
  • As a result of His drawing near to God through the consultation with the Word of God, Satan departed - “When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him …”
  • We are told that this is the expectation - that when we resist the devil by means of relying on the Holy Spirit using the Word of God to promote the glory of God in the midst of temptation, Satan “flees” - cp. James 4:4-8.

B. The Constancy of Temptation

  • Yet, Satan is more committed to our falling than any of us are to our faithfulness - “… he left Him until an opportune time.”
  • He never announces his next strategy or the timing of that assault, but whenever Satan sees an opportunity, he will strike.
  • This is why Jesus called upon His disciples to “watch and pray” that they not “enter temptation” - cp.  Mark 13:48.


  • What factors contribute to periods of relief from temptation?
  • What factors contribute to periods of intensification of temptation?
  • Describe how Satan can lull a believer into a state of vulnerability?


[1] MacArthur, p. 259.

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