Lessons from the Tempting of Jesus

Mike Johnson

There are three accounts in the Bible of the temptation of Jesus. These are found in Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, and Luke 4:1-13. Matthew and Luke give the more detailed account.

The accounts tell us that Jesus was tempted by Satan after he had fasted in the wilderness for 40 days. Satan tempted Jesus three times. First, he told Christ to turn stones to bread. Then he told Jesus that if He was the son of God, He should cast Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple to prove His claim. Third, he took Jesus to a high mountain and told Him that he would give Him all of the kingdoms of the world if He would fall down and worship him. Each time Jesus resisted the temptation of Satan.

There are some important lessons which can be learned from the temptation of Jesus. Let us consider them.

1. Jesus met the temptations by using God’s Word. Jesus quoted Scripture to Satan each time He was tempted. He did not rely on miraculous power to resist temptation, nor did he hear a “still, small voice.” He had to resist temptation just like we do— He employed God’s Word. Today, when we are confronted with sin, we need to rely on the Scriptures. We need to ask ourselves, “What do the Scriptures say?”

2. Jesus knew what righteousness was. Jesus was not ignorant of the Scriptures. Today, we must have a knowledge of what the Bible says so that we can resist temptation. How do we avoid sin if we do not know what sin is? We must learn God’s Word (II Tim. 2:15).

3. Jesus practiced what he knew. It does little good to know what is right and not practice it. Most Christians can do a lot better in resisting temptation if they will only practice what they already know. Christians often know they are doing wrong at the time that they sin. It is usually a matter of practicing what is already known. We must be doers of God’s Word and not just hearers (Jas. 1:22)

4. Satan also quoted Scriptures. At one point in the temptations, Satan quoted Scripture to Jesus after Jesus had quoted Scripture to Him. Satan misused the Word of God to try and get Jesus to do wrong. Someone can misuse God’s Word today. II Peter 3:16 speaks of some who had wrested the Scriptures to their own destruction. A person can misuse God’s Word to try and prove that “wrong” is “right.” We must, of course, examine God’s Word so we can learn if it is being correctly taught (Acts 17:11).

5. Temptation is not sin. Jesus was tempted, but he did not sin (Heb. 4:15-16). A person may contemplate a wrong action and then dismiss it. That is temptation, but it is not sin. We must, however, quickly resist and put aside all temptations.

6. We cannot blame our sins on our human bodies. Sometimes when people sin, they try and justify themselves by saying, “I’m only human.” We cannot excuse our sins by saying we live in a human body. Jesus had a human body; yet he did not sin. Even though we are all “only human,” we must still avoid sin, and when we do sin, we must accept responsibility.

7. There is no temptation too great. Jesus had to face some very difficult temptations, and yet He resisted. Today, a temptation may be very difficult for us to face. However, no temptation is beyond our capacity to resist. I Corinthians 10:13 says, “ . . . God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able . . . .” James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

8. Temptation will continue. Jesus had to face more temptation after His experience in the wilderness as Satan did not give up on trying to get Jesus to sin after his initial failure. Luke 4:13 says, “ . . . he departed from him for a season.” The same principle is true today. A person may successfully resist temptation during a given period of time, but this does not mean he will never be faced with temptation again. I Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” We can never let our guard down.