The Apostle John warned us about the dangers of, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, three issues as church leaders we are all tempted with, but transgressions that Jesus would never do.
These three temptations, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, are what Satan used to entice Eve and Adam before the fall of humanity and later in the wilderness just as Jesus was about to begin his public ministry.Be aware of the devil’s schemes which succeeded in the Garden of Eden. Instead, follow the pattern that Jesus used when he resisted Satan’s temptations in the desert.
In the first book of the Bible, we read about what happened when the serpent tempted Eve, “The woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat” Genesis 3:6 KJV
Eve saw that the tree was good for food, (the lust of the flesh,) It was pleasant to the eyes, (the lust of the eyes) and a tree to be desired to make one wise– (the pride of life.) Of course, you know the rest of the story! Eve was deceived, Adam disobeyed, sin came into the world, and death became the reality for humanity.
These same three temptations were also proffered by Satan to Jesus (the second Adam) in Matthew 4:1-11. The evil one was hoping to entice Jesus to abandon his mission and fall into sin. This text has a practical application for us today. Jesus exposed Satan tactics, and because of his triumph over the devil, we too can have victory over the tempter.
The devil’s main purpose has always been to thwart the coming of the Messiah. Remember how Satan manipulated King Herod into hunting down and destroying the infant Jesus near the time of our Savior’s birth. The devil knew that Jesus had come into the world to bring salvation, and now in the wilderness, if the tempter could only get Jesus to sin, that would ruin God’s whole plan of redemption.
Satan waited until the conditions were right before he began his tempting. After spending 40 days alone and without food, preparing himself spiritually for the ministry he was about to begin, it is an understatement when Matthew says that Jesus “hungered.” A point I want to make here is that temptation is tailored to the individual – Satan’s basis for temptation is to strike you where you are vulnerable. In Jesus’ case it was his hunger.
To defend himself from this first temptation, Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy 8:3 “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
Satan then tries another tactic. In vv.5-7 we see that Satan took Jesus to the highest point of temple.
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'”
Satan was saying,” Let us see how much you trust God. If you will not work a miracle for yourself, by turning stones into bread, then let God work one for you.” We too are often tempted to demand a visible proof of God’s presence and provision. That is not faith, but rather is putting God to the test.
“Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’“
In his last temptation of Christ, the devil shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” He was saying to Jesus that all the kingdoms of the world can be all yours right now without having to go through the pain and humiliation of going to the cross. All Jesus had to do was bow down and worship him. Jesus rebukes the devil saying, “away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'”
Jesus was victorious over the most powerful temptations Satan could throw at him. And because Jesus resisted all the temptations of the devil, so can we.
If you are a Christian, Satan has no authority over you either. You cannot give the excuse, that the devil made you do it if you trust in the words found in James 4:7“Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
The devil attacked Jesus the same ways he will attack you–physically, then mentally, and finally, spiritually. The lure of the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lies of the devil tempt us.
Jesus’ experience in the desert helps us to see how we are to respond to temptation —with scripture. The forces of evil entice us with a myriad of opportunities, but all have the same three things at their core: lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. We can only recognize and combat these temptations by saturating our hearts and minds with the God’s truth. The armor of a Christian solider in the spiritual battle of life includes only one offensive weapon, the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17) As Godly leaders we need to ask ourselves, what would Jesus do and what would Jesus never do. Then as we focus on Jesus as our role model and trust in the power of his word and his Spirit, we can resist the devil’s tempting’s and cause him to flee from you.