The devil tried to use the Sword of the Spirit (the word of God) to tempt Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11). The temptation took place in the wilderness just after Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. God had just proclaimed “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” Matthew 3:17.
Immediately Satan tried to separate Jesus from his title. If Satan could lure Jesus into ignoring God’s will, Jesus would have disqualified himself to be the Redeemer of mankind. The second Adam would have failed just as the first Adam did (read more about the two Adams in 1 Corinthians 15:44-49).
Satan used three basic temptations with Jesus that he always uses when tempting people of God. He uses the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. Satan used these exact same three methods to lure Adam and Eve into ignoring the will of God in their lives. The choice that Adam and Eve made plunged the entire human race into sin. The fruit was pleasing to look at. This is lust of the eyes. The fruit was good to eat. This is lust of the flesh. It would make them like God. This is pride.
Satan tempted Jesus the same three ways. The first was lust of the flesh to get Jesus to act independently of the Father—to do what he wanted instead of what the Father wanted him to do (Mark 10:45). Jesus came to earth to serve, not to be served. He came to earth to do the Father’s will, not His will.
The second temptation was lust of the eyes (Matthew 4:5-7). Since Jesus refused to act independently, Satan attempted to work in concert with the Father. Satan hoped Jesus would jump off the pinnacle and let the angels catch him. Jesus did not fall for the devil’s trick. The devil assumed that the Father would intervene to save Him. Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 6:16: “It is written you shall not tempt the Lord your God.” This was the temptation of lust of the eyes, a chance for Jesus to show off in the eyes of the Jewish people in Jerusalem. This temptation shows how important it is to study your Bible and to know when scripture is being used out of context.
In the third temptation, the pride of life was used (Matthew 4:8-11). The devil showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and said they could be his if he would fall down and worship him. He was giving Jesus a short cut to become ruler of the world in exchange for worshiping him. He was saying, “Set up your kingdom now instead of going through the pain and suffering of the cross.” Satan was trying to keep Jesus from going to the cross and accomplishing the redemption of mankind. If he could keep this from happening, God’s plan of redemption would be foiled.
Jesus again pulled out a sword and answered, “Away with you Satan! It is written, you shall worship the Lord your God and Him only you shall serve,” Matthew 4:10-11. The devil left Jesus and angels came and ministered unto him.
This event in Jesus’ life is a great example of submitting to God and resisting the devil so that he will flee from you (James 4:7). When temptation comes remember to quote scripture and believe what you say “and you shall have it.”