Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, 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 shall give his angels charge over you,’ and, in their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’” Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” (Matthew 4:3-10)
Dealing With The Devil
Temptation is the common lot of all men and Jesus would be no exception. Satan knew who Jesus of Nazareth was and he fully intended on doing his best to destroy the Son of God. For thirty years the devil threw everything he had at Jesus with the temptations all men must face. As the Lord began His ministry Satan approached the weakened Jesus to offer Him an easy path to glory. First, he tempted Jesus with the physical needs of hunger but to no avail. The devil turns to scripture to lure the Son of God to test His Father’s will but again ending in failure. Finally the great deceiver offers Jesus a shortcut to glory without the price of the cross and is abruptly rebuked and told to leave. Facing each temptation Jesus followed a simple plan: He appealed to the word of His Father. He did not rely on His own wisdom or His own ability to dissuade the appealing songs of Satan’s lures. Each provocation by the devil was met with a firm, “It is written.”
There are many lessons to learn from this story. If the devil will tempt the Son of God then why should we think he will not come after us with greater temptations? The most important lesson to learn is the only way to deal with temptation is to be familiar with the words of God. Without His word in our hearts there is an open door for the devil to bring us down. Vance Havner said, “Jesus met the devil not in His own name, not in His own power, but with the Scriptures: ‘It is written … it is written …’ If He could defeat the devil with three verses out of Deuteronomy, we ought to be able to do it with the whole Bible.” There is a point to be made. Knowledge is power and with this power we are able to discern between good and evil. Faith comes from hearing and hearing must come from the word of God. The level of faith is proportionate to our knowledge. If we are not actively seeking the word of God in our daily life we are inviting the devil to find his way in our lives.
More often than not we try to deal with temptation by our own wisdom. Bible study is a rarity and knowing anything about the Bible is more common in the lives of God’s people. Like the days of Hosea the people of God are being destroyed for lack of knowledge. Satan does not have to tempt us with great sins that will destroy us. He simply tempts us with the leisure approach to life that is busy about so many things that time with God’s word is seldom found. The church is filling with hearts that know little about scripture and finding their faith as weak as water. This is a ripe harvest for Satan as he turns the souls of saints away from the Lord. We cannot defeat temptation with “It is written” if we do not know what is written. The result is that we are lulled into a false sense of security as the siren song of the devil’s melody soothes our souls to destruction.
Learning the word of God takes time and energy. It requires the courage to face our failures for not knowing what we should about the Bible. The Lord did not give us a book that we cannot understand. A lifetime of study will not glean every morsel of truth from this great book but the more we spend time in the word the more powerful our lives will become. Satan’s greatest victory is to keep God’s people ignorant. The greatest victory the child of God can have is to stand boldly before the great deceiver and say, “It is written” because I know what is written. There can be no other way to deal with the devil. He is bound to hell fire and he is trying desperately to take every child of God he can find with him. Let him go alone. Take the sword of the Spirit and slay every temptation the devil throws at you with the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If Jesus can defeat Satan with three verses then we should throw the whole book at him. Now – go open your Bible and get busy learning about God.