Matthew 4:1-4 (ESV) Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread." But he [Jesus] answered, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
What was this temptation about?
For a long time, I thought it was just about whether or not to eat, and that Jesus was resisting the devil’s suggestion on principle because, well, he’s the devil so you’re supposed to resist him.
However, I have come to realize there is more to it than that.
The devil started by saying, “If you are the Son of God…”
This temptation wasn’t about food, but about Jesus’ identity.
The devil wanted Jesus to prove who he was by performing some sign, but he also hid the real purpose of the temptation behind Jesus’ physical circumstance – the fact that he was hungry. I think the real temptation though, was for Jesus to doubt his identity as the Son of God and have to prove it to himself by some miraculous sign.
But how did Jesus respond?
He said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. ” (emphasis added)
Jesus knew that the devil was attacking his identity, so he responded with a statement about where his identity came from. Jesus knew who he was because he studied the Scriptures, and so when the devil tried to cause him to question his identity, Jesus quoted the source of his knowledge about who he was.
So what can we learn from this in our own lives?
First, the devil often tries to hide his real agenda behind something else that doesn’t seem like a big deal.
He masks his purpose, in the hope that we will not see the danger and be led astray. Therefore, we need to be vigilant in resisting the devil – even in the “little” things.
Second, the devil will try to attack your identity as a child of God and try to make you doubt or even dismiss that fact.
The truth is, we are all God’s children, and he loves each and every person. However, many people do not choose to accept that love, but turn away after other things.
When the devil tries to attack your identity, where can you turn?
Jesus provided the answer for that.
Turn to God’s Word.
The Bible is the ultimate authority for who you are. In it, you can learn that, if you have chosen Jesus as lord of your life, you are:
- Free from sin (Romans 6:6-7)
- A child of God (Romans 8:14-17)
- God’s fellow worker (1 Corinthians 3:9)
- A new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)
- God’s temple – he lives in you (1 Corinthians 3:16, 2 Corinthians 6:16)
And much more!
But how do you know that? You have to spend time studying the Word of God.
When you know who you are in Christ, the devil has a much harder time leading you astray.
If you have made Jesus the Lord of your life but don’t know what the Bible says about who you are, then you are in greater danger of being led astray.
And if you have never accepted Jesus and his gift of salvation, then what protection from the devil do you have?
If that’s you, if you have never accepted Jesus, then I encourage you to do that right now. You don’t need some kind of fancy prayer or special setting. You can accept him right where you are.
Romans 10: 9-10 says, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”
If you believe Jesus came and died to take away your sins and then was raised to life to reign with the Father in Heaven, but have never called on him to be saved, do it now. Don’t wait. We are not promised tomorrow.
If you made that decision – now or at some other time in your life – get in the Word. Read God’s word every day, so you know who you are and the devil can’t attack your identity.
Father God, I pray that these words I have written bring hope into someone’s life. I pray that those who know you will turn to you all the more, and that those who have never sought you will have their hearts softened that they may turn to you and be saved.
In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.