Three kinds of temptation, part 1

Re-read: Matthew 4:1-11

“Command these stones to become loaves of bread…. Throw yourself down….” Matthew 4:3 & 6 & 9

The devil presented Jesus with three different kinds of temptation. They aren’t the only kinds of temptation, but they are some good example of the types of temptations we all face.
First, the devil exploits a natural, good desire to tempt Jesus to fulfil it in a sinful way. Jesus had been fasting for forty days! He was hungry! It would have been right and good for Him to eat, but the devil wanted him to find food by turning stones into bread. Jesus never used His power selfishly or for His own advantage, however. He had come “not to do My own will, but to do the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38), so feeding Himself in that way would have been a sin. Similar sins for us, twisting our natural desires or fulfilling them in the wrong way, include giving into gluttony, lust, greed, and all kinds of discontentment.
Second, the devil tempts Jesus to value Himself more highly than other people. He suggests that Jesus jump off a tall building to show that God would save Him, instead of letting Him fall to the ground. It would have demonstrated Jesus’ privilege as the Son of God, that He was more important than other people. But again, that wasn’t the will of God for Jesus yet, so He rejected the temptation. We also are often tempted to put ourselves first in small ways (like a child being unwilling to share with friends) or big ways (like committing a murder, which is demonstrating that the murderer thinks he or she has the right to choose life or death for another person). Envy and stealing are this kind of sin, too.
These are two types of temptations, and the devil has one more in store for Jesus. We will look at that one tomorrow.

Questions for discussion and reflection

  • Can you think of another good, natural desire that can be twisted into sin?
  • What does the Bible say about treating other people? (See Matthew 7:12 and Philippians 2:3)

Dear God, protect me from all the ways the devil tries to get me to sin. Give me a clear mind to see when I am being tempted. In Jesus’ name, amen.