Mice in a house cannot be caught when you are sitting there. They will be aware of your presence, but they can be caught with a trap, even if you are not there. Satan uses traps like this. Satan does not announce himself to us as he did to Jesus. But He does, in fact, have traps laid for us and he has something to say to us, and we should have something to say to him.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" (Genesis 3:1 NASB)
Ever since the Garden of Eden Satan has been trying to lay traps for God's people. He loves when he can get us to disobey God. One of the primary ways in which he seeks to accomplish this is by questioning God's Word. It is this exact tactic that he seeks to employ when he comes to tempt the Lord Jesus Christ.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, (Matthew 4:1-3a NASB)
Notice that Satan came when Jesus was weakened by hunger. Satan is a lot of things but of all things, he is definitely a coward. He does not want to come and attempt to entice any of God's people to sin when we are at our strongest or our most spiritually ready for the temptation.
He attacks and tempts Jesus in three main areas just as he does with us: The lust of the flesh, the pride of life, and the lust of the eyes. Every temptation we face in life can be narrowed down to at least one of these three categories.
1. Lust Of The Flesh (v.3-4)
And the tempter came and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." But He answered and said, "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'" (Matthew 4:3-4 NASB)
There would not have been anything wrong in and of itself with Jesus performing a miracle like turning stones into bread. After all, He was hungry and had not eaten for 40 days. In fact, He would perform miracles involving food in His ministry but to do it now would be disobedience to God.
What Satan wanted was for Christ to be able to question why God would let Him be hungry in the first place. Satan, every chance that he gets not only wants us to question God's Word, but he also wants us to question God's character and trustworthiness. Satan, in essence, was saying to Christ, "You're hungry! Eat! Do what will make you feel better! Indulge!"
It is at this point that Christ provides the example of what we are to do in response to Satan when he tempts us with questioning God's Word and not trusting God. What Jesus Christ does we should do also and that is quote Scripture right back at Satan. To do this will show both God and Satan and anyone else who may be watching depending on the situation, that we believe God's Word over everything else. It will show that we believe God's Word over anything Satan has to say or anyone in the world for that matter. What it will show is that we trust the Creator over anything in the creation.
All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to give to your forefathers. You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. (Deuteronomy 8:1-6 NASB)
Jesus quotes from a time when Israel was angry with God because they were hungry. They were saying they preferred food or comfort to God’s words. Jesus shows true obedience and a true trust in God by refuting the devil's temptation and putting His full trust in God and every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God over temporary comfort or satisfying a fleshly desire.
While it would not have been wrong to eat when hungry and it is certainly not wrong for us to eat when the hungry, the key here is that Satan was tempting Jesus to go against God and not trust God because Jesus was out there for a purpose which was to fast and spend time in prayer. That was what Christ's focus was on. If he had of given in to a temporary, fleshly desire, He would have been acting no different than the Israelite people did after coming out of Egypt.
2. Pride Of Life (v.5-7)
Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, 'HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU'; and 'ON THEIR HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.'" Jesus said to him, "On the other hand it is written, 'YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.'" (Matthew 4:5-7 NASB)
Satan says, “If you believe every word of God then prove this one!” Satan quotes Psalm 91:11-12 and is basically saying to Jesus, “You will be a hero falling and not dying! You will have proof and vindication that you are God’s Son after all!” Satan says to us in like manner, “You deserve that promotion, recognition, etc. Do whatever it takes!”
Jesus this time quotes Deut. 6:16 which relates account from Exodus 17:1-7 when the people were still upset and hungry said, “If you don’t provide a miracle and feed us then we won’t believe anymore!
You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested Him at Massah. (Deuteronomy 6:16 NASB)
Satan uses the circumstances of our lives and uses them to make us question God. We should not question God because He is faithful and we are not.
The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the LORD love you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the LORD brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments. (Deuteronomy 7:7-9 NASB)
The passage from Deuteronomy 7 makes it clear that God is God, and we are not. God is faithful, and we are not. God is the one who keeps His promise and His covenant, and we do not. It is because of this that we can fully trust God and have no reason to not trust God.
Satan would love to appeal to our pride and make us think that we are somehow in control, that we are somehow more important than we really are, and he certainly would love for us to do things that bring glory to ourselves rather than to God.
God does not choose us because of anything about us that makes Him "have to" choose us. No, God chooses us out of His love and because of His purposes and He is faithful to see us through and take care of us and we show that we are His people when we keep His commandments.
3. Lust Of The Eyes (v.8-10)
Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, "All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Go, Satan! For it is written, 'YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'" (Matthew 4:8-10 NASB)
Satan says, “Bow and I will give it all to you!” Was he serious? Could he? He was bluffing. If Jesus had of bowed He wouldn’t have gotten anything. Satan wanted Him to operate on His terms instead of God’s. Satan was saying, “There is an easier way of getting the kingdom instead of dying on a cross!” “If you take the shortcut you can have it all right now!” The fact that it is a bluff makes sense because in the end if we give into Satan do we ever really end up with what we really wanted? By giving into things and what we can see like money or things, we are worshiping those things instead of God. Satan wants you to take the easy way out. He wants you to do anything except for what God wants you to do.
You shall fear only the LORD your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name. You shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who surround you, for the LORD your God in the midst of you is a jealous God; otherwise the anger of the LORD your God will be kindles against you, and He will wipe you off the face of the earth.
Jesus quotes Deut. 6:13-15 because Jesus, just like we should, refused to put anyone or anything over the Lord God.
What are the results or consequences of Jesus’ example?
Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him. (Matthew 4:11 NASB)
Then the devil left him. Jesus’ obedience is rewarded by having angels minister to Him. This doesn’t mean that Satan won’t ever come back. We must be ready. If we submit to God and quote Scripture and submit to Scripture and resist him, he will flee.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
The same strength that Jesus used to resist the devil, we have that strength dwelling in us! Stand firm! Obey God rather than man. God will bless your obedience.