FOUNDATIONAL FRAMEWORK. PART 46
Foundational Truths: The Bible is God’s self-revelation.
God is the Eternal, Sovereign Creator; all that He creates is good.
Man is a responsible agent, held to a moral standard.
Sin originates within a person, separating us from God.
God declares one righteous by faith alone, apart from works.
The glory of God is the centerpiece and goal of all existence.
God’s glory is maximally realized in the promised, coming Kingdom.
C.S. Lewis writes, “Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.”Lewis’ assessment is correct!
The call to “have dominion” was mandated to Adam and Eve and they were to rule over the Earth as God’s “Theocratic Administrators.”This is found in the first chapter of the Bible, Genesis 1:26-28. However, in Genesis 3 the Fall of Mankind occurs, leaving Adam and Eve, and everyone who would come from their gene pool, in a state of separation from God in our trespasses and sins (Gen 3:1-7; Eph 2:1-2). The entire human race is depraved, having no way to rectify their sinful situation or their horrible eternal destination in and of themselves. The human race is unable to remedy its unregenerate condition before a holy God.
Sin is an everyday struggle. James speaks to us clearly about sin when he writes, “each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death” (Jas 1:14-15). According to James’ words temptation is not a sin. Our personal lust carries us from temptation to sinning. Temptation must be fought and we must rule over it (Gen 4:7). It is no wonder that believers are told to lay aside the sin “which so easily entangles us” (Heb 12:1). Sin is too easy because this body of flesh is drawn to it over and over again.
Victory over sin is not possible within ourselves unless we are first set free from sin’s penalty of death, and secondly are given a power from outside ourselves that is greater than that of sin’s clutches, speaking forth a greater truth than the temptation that sin presents. To understand this spiritual truth, we must set the stage from the beginning.
Genesis 3:1-7.While all seven verses should be read, our eyes should be drawn to verse 6. There we find Moses’ commentary as divinely revealed by the Spirit of God regarding Eve’s inner thoughts and reasoning regarding the situation that was placed before her. These temptations plague every human being. They are divided into three aspects:
First,“the tree was good for food”- Seems easy, right? Does the tree have fruit that would sustain Eve? I mean, she’s got to eat, right? Does the tree provide sufficient sustenance that will nourish her?
How dangerous it is to allow for practical considerations to become more authoritative than God’s revealed Word. The command was clear: “The Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die’” (Gen 2:16-17).
We can reason ourselves into anything, including disobedience to God’s Word. Plainly put: The desire to do that which God has told us not to do is of the world, not of the Lord. His Word is clear! This is the first category of temptation that leads to sin.
Second,“a delight to the eyes”- The word for “delight” in Hebrew is understood as a “desire, wish, lust, appetite, covetousness.”It is nothing short of carnality. It is precisely through the eyes that temptation wraps its tentacles around our brains in order to drag us to our knees. Some have even called this the “eye-gate” by which sin enters in. The idea of covetousness in the BDAG citation above perfectly captures the point here. It is lusting after something when God has plainly communicated to you that it is not yours. This is the second category of temptation that leads to sin.
Third,“desirable to make one wise”- The use of the word “desirable” may seem like a redundancy from examining the word “delight” from #2, but this word means “to take pleasure in” and can even have the ideas of “praise” and “approval” surrounding it.
This last insight into Eve’s thinking makes the issue clear. Eve wanted something other than what God had given her. She sought the pleasure of knowing more for herself. The serpent told her plainly, “you will be like Elohim” (Gen 3:5b). This is what Eve wanted. It wasn’t simply about satisfying her hunger or beholding the beauty of something because God had created it so. This was a personal agenda, separated from God’s will for her, where she was intently thinking through all that she was not (even in a perfect state) and how this fruit would be what would complete her. This is the third category of temptation that leads to sin.
Question: How long have we been repeating the pattern of doing what we are commanded by the Creator not to do, lusting for those things that are not ours, and believing that objects are what will ultimately bring satisfaction to us? All such thinking is Godless, with each area scrounging for a substitute for the Creator of all things.
1 John 2:15-17. The Apostle John addresses the Christian’s relation to the world system of this present age. He tells his readers “do not love the world.” This verb “love” is in the present imperative which means that “the force generally is to command the action as an ongoing process.”With this consider, it may be better to translate this as: “stop loving the world.” This means that John was aware that his audience had misplaced their priorities, elevating the world, and the things of the world (“stuff”), over the Lord.
With 1 John 2:15b, some may conclude that “the love of the Father is not in him” would be the equivalent of John giving an assessment of one’slack of regeneration derived from the evidence that the people in question were “world-lovers.” This would be a faulty assumption on the part of the interpreter. John knows that his audience consists of believers (1:3-4; 2:2, 7; 5:13). The idea being conveyed is that loving the world and loving God is not a “both/and” possibility but a certain impossibility. This is much like when Jesus taught that one could not love God and money (Matt 6:24; Luke 16:13). “What John is saying is that love of the world reflects a lack of love for God. It is impossible to love both the world and God. Anyone loving the world can be certain, without a doubt, that he or she does not love God.”John knows that the believer’s affections will ultimately control the believer’s direction.
With 2:15 giving us the immediate context, v.16 begins shedding light upon our previous consideration of Genesis 3:6. With each category that was previously identified in Eve’s thought process, so the Apostle John identifies the same areas, being:
“The lust of the flesh”
“The lust of the eyes”
“The boastful pride of life”
These three areas are listed as “all that is in the world” (2:16a). These ultimately make up the totality of the world’s enticements. Constable recognizes them as “the infernal trinity, the three faces of the world, three sources of worldly temptation.”Every sin that we commit can be classified into one of these three categories.
These desires and appetites are listed as being “not from the Father.” Setting an immediate contrast, each is identified as being “from the world,” which brings greater clarity to John’s meaning regarding those who “love the world” (2:15). The two are mutually exclusive and those who entertain these temptations are at odds with the will of God.
The apostle then reasons with his readers in 2:17, noting the final reality of what they may be pursuing. The world, and its lusts, are “passing away.” The word “lusts” means “desire, craving, longing," of a sort that is carnal.But contrasted to the “passing away” of the world and its lusts is the one who does the will of God. That person will live forever.
Is this a “salvation by works” verse? Far from it. The confusion that one may feel stems from the word “lives” which is the Greek wordmenōand would be better understood as its common usage by Jesus in John’s Gospel as “abides” (John 15:4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10), or as is sometimes translated “remains” (HCSB). The idea is that the one who does God’s will is the one who abides in Him, and the one who abides in Him is the one who is not loving the world or the things of the world.
John is seeking to convince his readers that there is nothing that we need that God will not give to us in His time. We don’t need the world.
Matthew 4:1-10.After His baptism by John the Baptist (Matt 3:13-17), Jesus is led into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil (4:1). We must remember that temptation is not sin. With Jesus entering this arena against the foe of Eve (Gen 3:1-7), we learn how to fight sin and temptation in the proper way. The word used for “tempted” needs to be explained. Jesus is there to be tempted. The word means “to endeavor to discover the nature or character of something by testing, try, make trial of, put to the test.”It is not that the Father is tempting the Son (Jas 1:13-15), but that Jesus is being tested so as to display His character as the promised Messiah. The reason for the NASB translation of this word to be “tempted” rather than “tested” may be due to the same root word being used in describing the devil in 4:3 where he is called “the tempter.”
Jesus’ fasting is presented without a reason, so no attempts at an explanation will be attempted except to say that it sets the stage for the first temptation that the slanderer (“devil”) brings (4:3). The situation of fasting created want, appealing to Jesus’ physical desire for food. The challenge in the statement “If you are the Son of God” should be compared to the Father’s declaration in Matthew 3:17 that Jesus is the Beloved Son of God. What the Father has declared as being true, the devil is questioning and in need of proof.
Satan knows who Christ is, even knowing some things about Him better than we do. But considering Jesus’ state, does He need to be reassured that He is the Son of God? Any conservative Christian would see this question as foolish, but with 40 days having gone by and being very hungry, the devil is seeking for Jesus to use His authority as a validator for the declaration that the Father has already made. By providing bread for Himself, He would remove Himself out from under the authority of the Father. He would be esteeming bread and the satisfaction of His hunger as a greater priority than taking the Father at His Word regarding His Sonship. What is Jesus’ response? Would Jesus use His authority to validate and satisfy Himself?
In Matthew 4:4, Jesus replies with the phrase, “It is written.” This is a critical point that must be pondered and meditated upon, for by doing so our lives will be drastically changed by the Holy Spirit.
At this moment, responding to the temptation before Him, Jesus is teaching us how to fight. If we try to engage a temptation situation in any other way than how the Lord Jesus Christ engaged it we have sinned without falling prey to the direct temptation. All temptation (because it can give way to sin which is what has separated the human race from its Creator) has supernatural implications. The appeals in the temptation are toward the physical, but the goal in promoting the temptation is for it to bring forth sin which leads to death. This has enormous supernatural consequences. The issue before our Lord is not just about His hunger; It is about where the source of His sustenance lies in this crooked and evil world.
Human strength is bankrupt in its ability to handle such temptation. By simply not committing the sin, we should not think that we have experienced victory. That in itself is a deception. Sin and obedience are not matters of physical action, reaction, or inaction. The issue is the heart motivation and its source of dependency (Matt 5:22, 28). The flesh is weak, depraved, and fallen. It simply does not have the answers necessary to withhold from temptation confidently.
A supernatural struggle requires a supernatural source from which to draw out a supernatural strength. The issue is always bigger than us and requires more than we can ever give. We fight in our own strength, using our own wisdom, devising our own plans, supplying our own resources, while executing our own judgments. Such answers as these are what fuel and feed the pride of our existence and is nothing short of evil and sinful.
Jesus answers differently. “Man shall not live by bread alone…” (4:4). Does man live or die by whether or not he eats? Many would quickly say “yes.” Jesus says “no.” Jesus’ quotation is taken from Deuteronomy 8:3. Reflecting back on that moment in time, Moses is explaining the hunger of the Israelites in the desert when they cried out and YHWH provided manna for them to eat. Moses tells us that YHWH was testing them to see what their heart’s condition was in following His Word. God can bring bread if He wishes. Our place is to look to His Word for life, that we may live in obedience to Him at all costs, even with a grumbling belly.
This line of thinking is seen in Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6:25 when He states, “Is not life more than food?” It is not bread that sustains us, but God’s Word; the same Word that was spoken in Genesis 1 bringing what did not previously exist into existence. We know this to be true because the word used for “word” in the Greek quotation of Deuteronomy 8:3 is rhēmawhich deals with an audible speaking or saying of something. It is the very truth that God utters that causes one to live.
By trusting YHWH’s word, Jesus has resisted the temptation presented to Him. Jesus stands firm, noting that it is God alone who sustains Him.
He has overcome the lust of the flesh(Gen 3:5; 1 John 2:16).
Moving into Matthew 4:5, a second temptation is presented. In the parallel account listed in Luke, this temptation falls third (Luke 4:9-12), while Matthew’s record of a third temptation (Matt 4:8-9) falls second (Luke 4:5-8). Though the order is different, the events are not. This second temptation records the devil taking Jesus to Jerusalem and stopping at the “pinnacle of the temple.” While deeming it a “portico,” Blomberg notes that this point “refers to the flat-topped corner of Solomon’s porch on the southeast corner of the temple complexoverlooking the Kidron Valley.”This is a point that would have reached between 300 to 350 feet.
Still questioning the Father’s declaration of Jesus as His Son, Satan calls upon Jesus to take His own life into His hands. “Throw Yourself down.” Satan then quotes Scripture, assuring Jesus that the Father would not allow anything to hurt Him in doing this, but that angels would be sent to rescue Him before He hits the ground below. Some believe that Satan’s omission in using Scripture was for the purpose of tricking Jesus, but this is not where the deception lies. Carson explains, “Satan quoted Psalm 91:11–12 (Mt 4:6) from the LXX, omitting the words ‘to guard you in all your ways.’ The omission itself does not prove he handled the Scriptures deceitfully… since the quotation is well within the range of common NT citation patterns.”There are many instances in Scripture where the New Testament authors quote the Old Testament and leave a portion unquoted. This is not where the deception lies.
Why quote Scripture to the One who wrote it? “Satan tempted Jesus to capitalize on his unique messianic status as a way out of self-induced mortal peril, perhaps as a stunt to appeal to the masses. But since Jesus received the Father’s approval by serving as an obedient son, the proposed leap from the pinnacle of the Temple would have amounted not to trusting God but to testing God.”Satan is tempting Jesus to “force” God to intervene in a situation. It is a sin to try and force God’s hand into proving His promises. Placing ourselves in intentional peril conjures a situation that tests God. This is not “walking by faith,” but testing God to see if His Word is true.
Jesus’ response begins the same way: “It is written.” This time, Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy 6:16. In the original context, Moses was issuing a warning to the Hebrews about forgetting about YHWH as their chief priority once they inherited the land and began prospering in it (Deut 6:12). The contrast laid before them is to fear YHWH and to reject any other god (Deut 6:13-14). In worshiping other gods, they would kindle the anger of YHWH, having put Him to the test (Deut 6:15-16). Deuteronomy 6:16 then gives an example of what it meant to “test” the Lord, referring back to the events of Exodus 17:1-7 where Israel grumbled and complained because they had no water. Moses, using his staff, was told by YHWH to strike the rock and water would come forth.
Back in the context of Matthew 4, the idea of testing God is the thought of Jesus’ purposeful actions in trying to get God to prove His Word. Jesus’ response can be summed up as: God is not to be tested but trusted.
With this statement, Jesus has overcome the boastful pride of life by not taking His own life into His hands(Gen 3:6; 1 John 2:16).
Matthew 4:8-10 records a third temptation, where Satan take Jesus to a “high mountain” which is obviously a place of greater height than the pinnacle of the Temple. This height allowed for the devil to show Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” (4:8). This is a grand spectacle, but the proceeding offer is enormous: “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.”
Note what the devil is offering in exchange for Jesus bowing down to him. Every kingdom of the world and all the glory that they contain would be His instantly. Some do not believe that Satan is making a bona fide offer, but numerous passages, with some being spoken directly from the mouth of the Lord Jesus, tell us that Satan is presently, though temporarily, in control of this world system (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 2 Cor 4:4; Eph 2:2; 1 John 5:19).
This third temptation is a question of allegiance. Notice that Satan is appealing to the “eye-gate” in this temptation. Satan has raised the bar to the level of instant world dominance. While the devil is considered a little “g” god, he is not the Creator God, YHWH! This matter is particularly interesting because all of the kingdoms of the world will one
day be under the authority of Jesus Christ anyway (Rev 11:15), so the idea here is expediency at the cost of obedience and allegiance.
Jesus’ response is quoted from Deuteronomy 6:13, ascribing all worship and service to YHWH alone. If Jesus were to take this offer, He would be considering the devil as greater than YHWH and would forgo the cross in favor of the kingdoms of the world. This would mean that the redemption of the world would be left undone and all would be damned. This was a wrong means to the right end.
Are we convinced that sin is not the way to get what we want? This text is clear that the one that you worship is the one that you serve. Will I trust that God will provide what He wants me to have or will I seek to expedite the process and circumvent the requirements in order to shortcut my way to what He has already promised me?
He is to be the central point of our gaze, not the kingdoms or glories of the world. All of those things will come should YHWH seek to give them. Our focus is to be singular: Worship & Serve God Alone!
In this last temptation, Jesus overcome the lust of the eyes, looking instead to YHWH alone (Gen 3:6; 1 John 2:16).
Jesus succeeds in every area where Eve failed, which means that He has succeeded in every area where we fail. When we are told in Hebrews 4:15 that “we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin,” we find that our Savior can identify with our struggles, but unlike us, He has overcome them. This victory by the Lord Jesus opens up the blessing of the next verse. We read “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16).
We do not need to be successful in these three areas of temptation because Jesus has already claimed victory for us. Our attempts would be like that of Eve who reasoned herself into sin and ultimately death, having disregarded God’s revealed Word. Jesus stands victorious over the same areas because His first reply to such temptations was to announce, “It is written.”
The Word of God stands central in Jesus’ replies, and because this is so, and because all who believe in Him are in Him in His victory (Rom 6:10-11; Eph 1:3-12; 2:6; Col 3:3), we already have victory over these things in a positional sense. However, our daily practice will find us confronted with these temptations time and time again. This fact compels us to draw some important applications from Matthew 4:1-10.
APPLICATIONS FROM THIS SCENE
In watching Jesus handle temptation, we can learn how to handle temptation. Every temptation we face will fall into one of these three categories: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. Here are some pointers to remember about dealing with temptation.
First, Jesus always uses Scripture. It is not what He thinks, feels, wants, plans, or attempts. It is trusting God’s Word and using God’s Word that brings about the victory. Only God’s Word is certain, sure, and true.
Second, to have true victory over the temptations that face us, we must know God’s Word. We are commanded in Colossians to let the Word dwell in us richly (3:16)! This is no joke! Any other remedy that we try to present is sin, done in the flesh, apart from truth. Are we actively learning God’s Word?
Third, while prayer is important, Jesus did not pray about any of these situations. He didn’t need to. Jesus was not in need of discernment here. These situations are clearly temptations leading to sin and the answers that He needs to each situation is found in God’s Word. Each temptation is a supernatural assault that needs the Light of the truth. Resorting to prayer could open the door for the rationalization of sin. By waiting too long, the temptation has gained a greater foothold. Call it what it is: SIN, waiting at the door to devour us should we fail to address it with Truth.
May we cling to God’s Word, trusting Him for the victory!
C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, rev. and enlarged ed. (New York: Macmillan, 1952), p. 36.
See Andrew M. Woods, The Coming Kingdom (Duluth, MN: Grace Gospel Press, 2016), p. 8-10.
BDAG, p. 16.
BDAG, p. 326.
Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), p. 485.
Gary W. Derickson, First, Second, and Third John, ed. H. Wayne House, W. Hall Harris III, and Andrew W. Pitts, Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012), p. 200.
Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible(Galaxie Software, 2003), 1 Jn 2:16.
Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon, p. 238.
BDAG, p. 792. See also A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament(Nashville: Broadman Press, 1933), Matt 4:1.
Craig Blomberg, Matthew, vol. 22, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), p. 84.
See James M. Freeman and Harold J. Chadwick, Manners & Customs of the Bible(North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1998), p. 404.
D. A. Carson, “Matthew,” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 8 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984), p. 113.
David Turner and Darrell L. Bock, Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol 11: Matthew and Mark(Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2005), p. 66.