This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.
Matthew 4:1-11 records the temptations of Jesus. Jesus had been led by the Spirit into the wilderness where he had gone over a month without food when Satan showed up with three temptations.
The first dealt with Jesus’ hunger: Tell these stones to become bread. The second dealt with Jesus’ security: If you throw yourself down from here, angels will protect you. The third dealt with God’s plan and Jesus’ right to rule over creation: Worship me and I’ll give you all of these kingdoms without you having to face the cross.
Yet, despite these differences, a common thread ran through each temptation–identity. Satan even said to Jesus in two of the temptations, “If you are the Son of God…”
Jesus, the eternal God the Son, came to earth and took on human nature and weakness. Would his human side depend fully on God or on his own will and flesh? Could Jesus actually trust the Father and his plan? Would the pain of the cross really be worth it?
Satan figured that if he could get Jesus to waiver in his trust as the Son of the Father, then God’s plan would fail. Jesus, however, remained faithful, refused Satan’s temptations and offers, and trusted fully in the Father as the good Father who provides for his children. And, indeed, when Satan left, the Father sent angels to serve Jesus.
What we face in our temptations is similar. If we have placed our trust in Jesus, we are new creations with new hearts. We are the adopted sons and daughters of God. We belong to a new family and a new kingdom. The old self in sinful rebellion is vanishing, and we’re to do what we can in the power of God’s Holy Spirit to help that process along.
When we face a temptation to sin, the question we must answer is: Am I going to choose to act as my new self in Christ; or am I going to momentarily say that God is not the good Father, his plan is not the best, and I can find greater happiness in my old ways?
God gives us plenty to help fight temptation–his word, prayer, accountability and fellowship with other followers of Jesus, etc., but he also reminds us of our identity. In Romans 8, Paul says that we have the Holy Spirit within us crying out Abba Father, reminding us of our adoption as God’s sons and daughters through Christ.
Holding firm to this identity helps us choose the way of righteousness, like Jesus, and say no to the ways of sin.