Jesus’ Victory Over Temptation


Jesus’ Victory Over Temptation


Jesus was tempted in everything exactly as we are and “yet was without sin” (Heb.4: 15).


He resisted temptation by subjecting Himself to the Spirit’s power rather than by using His own divine nature (Luke 4: 1, 2; 13, 14). In fact, His ministry was performed under the power of the Holy Spirit of God.


Jesus overcame his temptations over the world (1 Jn. 5:4); over the flesh (Gal 5:16); and over the enemy (Eph. 6:11,13).


1.  Through The Word Of God                                     


Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry (Matt. 4:1,2). But during this temptation, He defeated Satan each time by using the Word of God. The Psalmist says, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11).


Let us compare Jesus’ temptation in Luke 4:1-13 with 1 John 2:16:


Luke 4:1-13                                1 John 2:16

Stones to bread                           “Lust of the flesh”

Kingdom of the earth                 “Lust of the eyes”

Pinnacle of the temple                “Pride of life”


Satan tried to use the weapon ‘lust of the flesh’ against Jesus. He tempted Jesus to use his power to convert the stones into bread and quench his hunger.


This passage shows us a personal devil. The devil is not merely a force or an influence, but a person.  The devil tempts people to do evil and accuses them before God (see Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6).  Jesus was tempted in every part of His humanity, as we are.


Satan was trying to make Jesus selfish or greedy or impatient just for a moment.  He said to Him, “If you are God’s Son, order this stone to turn into bread.”


Jesus answered, “The Scripture says: Man cannot live by bread alone.”


Probably Jesus was saying that he came to fill the hungry that needed more than bread. They need the Bread of Life and that’s the Word of God.


Then the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and said, “I will give you all this power and all this wealth... if you worship me.”


Jesus answered, “The scripture says, worship the Lord your God and serve only him.” (Matt. 4:10).  In other words Jesus was saying, “If I am God’s son I must do things God’s way, and His way is different from yours.   I bow to one person only and that is God.”


Then the Devil took Him to Jerusalem and set Him on the highest point of the temple, and said to Him, “If you are God’s Son, throw yourself down from here...”


Jesus answered, “The scripture says, do not put the Lord your God to the test.”  In other words Jesus was saying that He is aware of the fact that God won’t let Him down, but there was no need to prove that.  Faith does not ask for proof.  With God there are no stunts, short cuts or cheap tricks.


Satan wanted Jesus to draw on his divine power to meet his need instead of submitting to the will of God for his life. Jesus, however, demonstrated something far more important.  Rather than showing He had the power to change rocks to bread, He showed He was committed to God’s will.  We can very well observe that His commitment grew out of His understanding of scripture. Jesus not only knew the scriptures, but also knew how to apply them to specific situations.


God’s Word is a powerful weapon, but in order for that weapon to be effective in your encounter with Satan and his demons there are two basic requirements: (1) familiarity with the weapon, and (2) using the weapon in the power of the Spirit.


Be familiar with your weapon. When a soldier goes into basic training he is given a rifle. That weapon becomes his closest companion. He eats and sleeps with it. He must be able to take it apart and put it together again blindfolded. Therefore you must be familiar with Scripture. Give the maximum time possible to learn all you can through the instruction of others and from your own private reading and meditation. When Satan confronts you with a specific temptation, use God’s Word in the power of the Holy Spirit.


2.  Through His Life, Death And Resurrection


Faith in the person and work of Christ releases the Christian from the power and dominion that sin had over him (Rom. 8:9).  He is now free to choose to walk in obedience to God (Rom. 6:8-14).  


Faith forms a battle line against every form of evil. Faith finds the strength to be an overcomer of temptation. While it is Christ who succors and delivers in temptation, the will of the sanctified is in perfect harmony with the Holy nature of Jesus. The modern conception of a holy life, mixed with sin, worldliness, and carnal promptings and actions is not only unscriptural, but also opposed to God and His holiness. In him is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.


 “For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own son in the likeness of sinful man...  in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature [flesh] but according to the spirit” (Rom. 8:3,4).


As Christians, we are called to live in victory!   Through Christ, this victory is ours.


We recognize Jesus as divine, but at the same time He was human like any one of us.  He was a young man when these temptations occurred.  These tests were not haphazard or random. They were an organized and systematic attack on every aspect of a young person’s life and career. They were directed against the spiritual and vocational purposes of Jesus.


The tempter directed his first test at the physical condition of our Lord. Satan attacked when Jesus was hungry and likely exhausted.


In the first temptation the devil challenged Jesus as the Son of God. It was a temptation of a private nature. Cleverly, the devil uses Jesus’ deity as leverage to ply him into acting independently of his Father.  He tried to destroy Jesus by drawing him away from His Father and His mission. Temptation is not sin, for Christ was tempted as we are, yet remained sinless (Heb.4: 15; Mt.4: 1; Lk.22: 28). Temptation becomes sin only when and as the suggestion of evil is accepted and yielded to.


Satan also tempts us to forsake God’s purpose for our lives. He will try to get us to use our God - given gifts for selfish ends rather than in committed service for God.


The second temptation of Jesus appealed to the desire for personal gain and glory.  Having failed to lure Christ with self-gratification, the devil attempts to catch him with the offer of power. It wasn’t about physical needs. Jesus knew that Psalm 91 is a call for God’s people to trust God to take care of them.  Jesus then quoted Deuteronomy 6:16 to show the error of trying to back God in a corner and force him to do something.


A correct understanding of God’s word will help us know when some one is misapplying scripture out of context. Satan casts doubt on what God has said to us in the scripture. He challenges our understanding of God’s word.


In the third test in the wilderness Satan again attacked the spiritual life of Jesus.  It was a temptation of a public nature.  Satan sought to get Jesus to turn away from his role as the suffering Servant.


Jesus would not turn to worship anyone or anything other than God.  The reason he gave is based on the clear teaching of scripture (Deut. 6:13).  He ordered Satan to stop trying to get him to turn away from the Father. With this, Satan left and the angels came to attend Jesus (Matt. 4:11). When we reject Satan’s offer then the angels would minister to us.


Perhaps you may say that the devil makes you to do certain things.  But the actual fact is, the devil can’t make us do anything. He may be cleverly preparing the way and would lay the bait.  He takes note of our habits, and observes our hangouts. Then he prepares a tailor - made lure and drops it right in front of our noses. The choice is ours.


After laying the bait, he gives the appeal. He can’t make us bite, but he knows what happens inside us when we catch a glimpse of that tantalizing bait.  Our fleshly nature draws us to it. We linger over it, play around it and fantasize about it in our minds until it consumes our imaginations.


Now our real struggle begins. Immediately, our conscience warns us regarding the danger.  We know it’s wrong to bite the bait.  We may even feel the barbed consequences starting to poke through the bait.  But Satan’s invitation looks so delicious and you may take a mouth full till you realize the pain of the hook in your cheek.  It may be too late to come out of it because you are already hooked.   Always there is a way out, but you may have to go through the consequences.


If Jesus had jumped off the pinnacle, his life would most likely have been preserved, but not his mission.  The rest was to see whether he would draw all people to himself by relying on the way of sensationalism or the way of the cross.  Jesus chose the Cross.


No matter how cleverly and smoothly the devil paved the way, Jesus would not be enticed to abandon God’s narrow, difficult way.


And when the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time (Matt. 4:13).  Satan retreats-but only temporarily.  When he leaves - count on another attack.  Satan is never discouraged by defeat.  He keeps trying again and again.


Concerning Christ’s temptation, we observe, that directly after he was declared to be the Son of God, and the Savior of the world, he was tempted; great privileges, and special tokens of divine favor, will not secure any from being tempted. But if the Holy Spirit testifies to our being adopted as children of God, then that will answer all the suggestions that the evil spirit tries to communicate to us.


Commenting on this character of the devil, Martin Luther said, “The devil takes no holiday; he never rests.  If beaten, he rises again. If he cannot enter in front, he steals in at the rear. If he cannot enter in the rear, he breaks through the roof or enters by tunneling under the threshold.  He labors until he is in.  He uses great cunning and many a plan.  When one miscarries, he has another at hand and continues his attempts until he wins.”


Satan’s temptations are very creative.  If one doesn’t work, he can always pull five more out of his hat.


Leander S. Keyser has suggested that temptation can come to man along only three avenues. All other temptations are merely variants of these three.


Appetite: The desire to enjoy things (Mt.4: 2-4; Lk.4: 2-4). In his first letter, John refers to this as “The lust of the flesh” (1 John 2: 16). Since Jesus was hungry, Satan made his first approach on the physical plane and in the realm of legitimate appetite. He came in the role of a benefactor.


Ambition: The desire to achieve things (Mt.4: 5-6; Lk.4: 9-11). This John designates “The pride of life” (1 John 2: 16).


Avarice: The desire to obtain things (Mt.4: 8-11; Lk.4: 5-7), designed by John “The lust of the eyes” (1 John 2: 16).




Mathew Henry commentary says:


“In the temptation of Christ it appears that our enemy is subtle, spiteful, and very daring; but he can be resisted. It is a comfort to us that Christ suffered, being tempted; for thus it appears that our temptations, if not yielded to, are not sins, they are afflictions only. Satan aimed in all his temptations, to bring Christ to sin against God.”


1. He tempted him to despair of his Father’s goodness, and to distrust his Father’s care concerning him. It is one of the wiles of Satan to take advantage of our outward condition; and those who are brought into straits have need to double their guard.


2. Satan tempted Christ to presume upon his Father’s power and protection, in a point of safety. Nor are any extremes more dangerous than despair and presumption, especially in the affairs of our souls. Satan has no objection to holy places as the scene of his assaults. Let us not, in any place, be off our watch. The holy city is the place, where he does, with the greatest advantage, tempt men to pride and presumption. All high places are slippery places; advancements in the world make a man a mark for Satan to shoot his fiery darts at.


3. Satan tempted Christ to idolatry with the offer of the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them. The glory of the world is the most charming temptation to the unthinking and unwary; by that men are most easily imposed upon. Christ was tempted to worship Satan. He rejected the proposal with abhorrence. “Get thee hence, Satan!” Some temptations are openly wicked; and they are not merely to be opposed, but rejected at once. It is good to be quick and firm in resisting temptation. If we resist the devil he will flee from us.


As to Christ’s temptation, Mark notices his being in the wilderness and that he was with the wild beasts. It was an instance of his Father’s care of him, which encouraged Him the more that his Father would provide for Him. Special protections are earnests of seasonable supplies. The serpent tempted the first Adam in the garden, the Second Adam in the wilderness; with different success indeed; and ever since he still tempts the children of both, in all places and conditions.


Company and conversation have their temptations; and being alone, even in a wilderness, has its own also. No place or state exempts, no business, not lawful laboring, eating, or drinking, not even fasting and praying; often in these duties there are the most assaults, but in them is the sweetest victory. The ministration of the good angels is matter of great comfort in reference to the malignant designs of the evil angels; but much more does it comfort us, to have the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit in our hearts. (Mk.1: 12,13).


Darby’s Synopsis commentary says:


“It is in the spirit of simple and humble obedience that power lies; for where it exists, Satan can do nothing. God is there, and accordingly the enemy is conquered. These three temptations are addressed to the Lord in the three characters, of man, of Messiah, and of Son of man.


He had no sinful desires like fallen man, but He was hungered. The tempter would persuade Him to satisfy this need without God.


The promises in the Psalms belonged to Him as being made to the Messiah.


And all the kingdoms of the world were His as the Son of man.


He always replies as a faithful Israelite, personally responsible to God, making use of the Book of Deuteronomy”


The first temptation was on the physical plane, the second on the mental. In the third, Satan invades the realm of the spiritual—trying to give him a place that belongs to God alone.


The first was the temptation to satisfy a legitimate appetite by illegitimate means. The second was the temptation to bring about a spiritual glory by worldly means. The third was the temptation to obtain a lawful heritage by unlawful methods.


The record implies that in each case Jesus heard the temptation from within, but did not open the door to the tempter. In this way He gained a stunning victory over His enemy, the benefits of which can be shared today by every tempted soul. Because the Christ to whom we are united by faith was victorious over every class of temptation, we may share in His triumph as we appropriate it by faith.