@johnvinod | March 16, 2021
Jesus Christ thwarted all attempts of the devil in the wilderness with a robust twofold strategy: 1. Quoting the Scriptures, and 2. Prayers. Jesus said: “It is written” and repeated it in all three of his responses to Satan’s tests in Matthew 4: 1-11
4 But he answered, “It is written,
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
7Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”
10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”
From the life of Jesus, we learn that to be tempted is not a sin. Jesus was tempted and yet he remained without sin. If Jesus had committed any sin, he could not be our savior. Thus, to live and become like Jesus, we should also adopt his strategy to overcome our temptations.
First, the retort of Jesus, “it is written,” spontaneously sprang up from a deep spirituality developed spending time in the scriptures for the past thirty years of his life. Even when Satan himself employed the same phrase in Matthew 4: 5 by quoting him the Scriptures, Jesus immediately seemed to have said, well, what you are quoting to me must be explained in light of another passage, for it is written….” (Matthew 4: 7). Thus, Jesus set an example for us to read ALL Scripture and be so immersed in the whole counsel of the Word that we will be quick to recognize when someone misquotes it or uses it out of context for their selfish purposes.
Often what fills our minds and thoughts shapes us, our speech, and our response when we are tempted. What occupies your mind these days? What spontaneously comes out when we have an opportunity to respond to the temptations and tests this world constantly presents us? The response, “it is written,” must become a continual application in our lives as we face our wilderness.
Second, before and during the temptation in the wilderness, Jesus had spent most of his time in prayer. He was constantly in communion with his father, even though at times it appeared that God was not present with him. Therefore, soon after he had called his disciples, Jesus instructed them to pray, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13). So, we are not isolated in our daily battles with the temptations. Through Jesus’ example, we have two remarkable resources—the Word and the prayers. During this Lenten season, let us develop a habit of using these for bolstering our defenses and for winning battles in our own wilderness.