Drawing a Battle Plan

Matthew 4:1–4 (ESV)
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”

Every day is a battle. Each of us battles our own weaknesses and “go to” sins while striving to walk with our Lord. Notice when the tempter came. Satan waited until Christ was weak with hunger after forty days of fasting. He also uses the same tactic in our lives by tempting us when we are the most vulnerable physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

When we look at the temptations of Jesus, we can immediately draw comparisons to the nation of Israel and its struggles in the wilderness. Jesus spent 40 days in the desert; Israel 40 years wandering in the Wilderness. Jesus proved to be dependent on God and did not give in to the tempter, while Israel failed time and time again (see Exodus 16:1-5 for an example).

When Israel found they had no resources, they grumbled. God demonstrated their need to depend on Him by providing manna. Even then they were tempted to take care of themselves by hoarding the food. But the extra manna was always spoiled the next day, so they were once again dependent on God’s provision for that day. Through this concrete demonstration, God taught Israel to be dependent on him, in hopes that they would apply the same lesson concerning their dependence on God for truth, wisdom, and instruction.

In the first temptation of Jesus, which concerns the lust of the flesh, our Lord is hungry, and the devil tempts Him to convert stones into bread, but He replies with Scripture, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3. It is a reminder to Israel of God's tender care for His people during their wilderness wanderings. It's a perfect parallel. They're in the wandering wilderness, they were reminded not to grab their own satisfaction but to trust God that life consisted not in bread alone but every word that comes from the mouth of God.

​The second temptation concerns the pride of life (Matthew 4:5–7). The devil quotes Psalm 91:11-12 and Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:16 in rebuttal to not put God to the test. The third temptation concerns the lust of the eyes (Matthew 4:8–10) and deals with compromise, “You could have it all and You could have it all without the cross, without the sin offering that You're going to be, without the wrath of God. You can have it all, just worship me.”

What can we learn here?

Jesus used God’s Word to fight temptation. As Jesus demonstrated in the temptation in the wilderness—and through his faithfulness at Gethsemane—the proper response to temptation is to resist with the help of God. In the wilderness, Jesus showed that God’s Word can be used to counter the lies of temptation. Jesus responded to Satan’s appeals by relying on God’s Word, manifesting the lesson that Israel was supposed to learn in their 40 years of wilderness journeying (Deuteronomy 8:2–3).

He also relied on the Holy Spirit. Look at Matthew 12:28; Acts 10:38; Isaiah 42:1. The Spirit is not an add-on to God the Son, but a necessary ally to Jesus in His humanity. He never faced temptation alone, and He proved the way of success for us that neither should we face temptation alone. And lastly, He led a prayerful life. Look at Luke 5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28; 11:1; 22:32, 41.

Let this be an inspiration as we draw up our own battle plan each day.