Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. – Matt. 4:1 KJV
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Jesus Christ had just completed his baptismal exercise with John the Baptist as the operating minister and according to the account of Matthew, the Holy Spirit descended on him like a dove, a light appeared on his head and a voice from heaven confirmed his status as the son of God in whom God is well pleased – Matt. 3:16-17. If anyone was to have this kind of experience today, the follow up expectation by the individual and at least people who witnessed the event will be the commencement of miracles, signs and wonders in and around the life of such a person, but that was not the case on this occasion.
The Bible says the Spirit led him into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil – Matt. 4:1. One could have concluded that it was a negative spirit that led him there, but he had just been baptised, not only with water but also with the Holy Spirit so there is no way it would have been any spirit other than the same spirit that came on him which was definitely the Holy Spirit. This is a case of God deliberately handing over his beloved son to the devil to be tempted. Well… it is not a new development as he had done practically the same to Job by pointing him out and handing the devil the approval to lay hands on all that he possessed aside from his life – Job 1:12. On that occasion, the devil wasted no time, as he quickly decimated Job and rendered him completely humiliated – Job 1: 13-21. The Bible says the intention of the devil is always to steal, kill and destroy – Jn. 10:10. That has been an eternal goal for the devil and it was not different on this occasion.
The same account of Matthew revealed that the devil did not show up until forty days during which Jesus Christ had been fasting. At this point, he was not only hungry, but would have been physically weak also – Matt. 4:2. With Jesus being practically handed over to him through the leading of the Holy Spirit, the devil quickly set to work, using one of his usual approaches which is to make the potential victim see what his/her body stands to gain in the offer he is presenting. This has always and remains a major tool of the devil in deceiving Christians as he is always quick to make them see what the body stands to gain from the offer he is presenting without highlighting the effect of such a choice on the soul. This is the same body whose final destination remains dust – Gen. 3:19; Eccl. 3:20. With this tool, he delivered three quick strikes which were unsuccessful before leaving Jesus, albeit for a season – Matt. 4:3-10; Lk. 4:13. It was only after this that the angels came up to attend to him – Matt. 4:11. He had successfully navigated a major obstacle to his achieving greatness.
The devil comes with this tool because he is aware that the desires of the flesh will always run contrary to the Will of God and thus will not be to the advantage of the spiritual health of the soul – Gal. 5:17. He promises those things that will bring comfort to the body in a manner that seems it costs nothing to the individual concerned. It will take a deep processing of the offer, placing it side-by-side with God’s instructions to see the danger of the seemingly harmless offer.
Christians need to realise that they will always be candidates to be tempted by the devil especially as they grow their relationship with the Almighty God, and so must prepare adequately for him. Some facts were made obvious when the account of these events are reviewed.
1. Baptism experience, both with water and Holy Spirit will not prevent the Christian from temptation.
2. God’s testimony about your faithfulness will only increase your chances of being tempted by the devil.
3. Fasting and vigils will not stop your being tempted by the devil.
4. Angels will not show up to help you during temptation so there is no need expecting any help from that direction.
5. The devil will not give up on his attempts at bringing the Christian down with temptation.
6. Even the Almighty God will not stop your being tempted as He may even be the one that will point you out, so do not try to seek his support in prayer against been tempted or overcoming during temptation.
With the above obvious facts, the Christian is better off remaining prepared at all times for temptation as that is the only way to avoid not been caught by surprise. Jesus Christ overcame on those three occasions in reference because he was able to weigh the offer of the devil with that of God. He was not just quoting the scripture like an invocation or to display knowledge, but was reminding the devil of what he was pretending not to know, which was God’s view about what he was suggesting and letting him realise that God expects that only His instruction should be followed. Knowing God’s view about the devil’s suggestion and determining to pick God’s option remains the only tool against those seemingly harmless and tempting offers that the devil always comes with. The truth is that the devil has nothing to offer that God has not promised. God himself had through his son advised man that he can have all things, if he makes seeking and satisfying Him, and none other the primary objective of his life, so man loses nothing if he chooses to pick the God option – Matt. 6:33. This is because any other route to acquiring all those earthly treasures and positions will put the of the soul individual at the risk of destruction – Mk. 8:36.
The Christian today must stop seeing temptation as an experience that they are above, but see it as one that will definitely come and so prepare for its arrival at all times, and God will expect the individual to come out victorious as anything short of that will be considered a disappointment and is inexcusable. To prepare is to follow the proven path that Jesus took to overcome his temptation which are;
1. Get accustomed with God’s view on every aspect of man’s activities by dwelling on His word regularly, so that you can present His view when the devil shows up with his twisted version.
2. Resolve to take God’s option in all situations and pray to God for strength to overcome the influences and trickery of the devil long before the temptations arrive.
3. Be aware that God’s Will is for you to have all the comfort that you need in life and trust that He will provide it, after all, He it is that provides for the birds of the air and the lilies of the valley – Matt. 6:25-34.
To wait for temptation to arrive before planning on how to handle it may be a decision with very dangerous consequences for both body and soul – Matt. 10:28. Prepare for its coming by following the tips above and you will be able to stand firm when it eventually arrives. May God keep us all standing after the devil has come with his temptations in Jesus name. Amen.