Temptation is a tough thing for us to deal with. It can feel like we took a knife to a gun fight because we are often easily overwhelmed by temptation. But if we look at how Jesus successfully dealt with temptation, we see some strategies for how we can do the same.
First, Jesus used God’s Word to refute temptation. That’s because there is power in God’s Word. Note that Satan tries to use God’s Word to tempt Jesus, but that is a misuse of God’s Word. Anytime someone is using God’s Word to try to pull people away from God, that is a misuse of God’s Word. Second, he rebukes the devil. He doesn’t try to build up a rapport and negotiate with him. Basically, Jesus says to the devil, “No, you are wrong, now get out of here!”
And as Jesus also teaches us with the passages he uses against temptation. When tempted to disobey God to satisfy his physical appetite of hunger, Jesus said, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” (Mt. 4:4). Jesus is telling us that feeding our soul with God’s Word is more important to us than feeding our stomach with bread. God, and the nourishment he gives us through his Word, is what we really need.
When tempted to disobey God for personal gain by throwing himself off of the highest point of the temple and trust the angels to protect him, Jesus said, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’” (Matthew 4:7). You and I cannot go ahead and sin and assume that God will protect us from the consequences of our sin. He might. God is good and gracious. But he might let us experience the natural consequences of our sin so that, in our grief over our sin, we return to God and his forgiveness.
When tempted to disobey God for power or glory by bowing down and worshiping the devil, Jesus said, “Get out of here, Satan. For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’” (Matthew 4:10) Here Jesus is showing us that a lot of the times when we succumb to temptation it is because of what we worship, for we tend to obey what we worship. When we worship our body, we will obey our body’s urges and appetites. When we worship money, we will obey any temptation that we think will help us to get more money. When we worship what other people think of us, we will obey whatever temptation we think will give us more of other people’s favor. On the other hand, when our worship is focused on the one true God, then all the other things in our life tend to fall into alignment with him.