The Temptations Of Jesus Christ
The temptations of Jesus Christ in the wilderness by the devil, was it physical, or Psychological? Discuss.
By: Brother Lugard Osakpamwan Ekhator
Text: James 1: 2 “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
To get a proper understanding of the type of temptations that Our LORD Jesus Christ faced in the wilderness, as recorded in Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-14, it is good for us to know what temptation means. This is a vital discussion we must allow the Holy Spirit to guide us so that we don’t present a false teaching to you. Amen.
Now, according to the WordWeb dictionary, temptation mean:-
1. Something that seduces or has the quality to seduce
2. The desire to have or do something that you know you should avoid
3. The act of influencing by exciting hope or desire
Considering the three definitions of temptation above, we can literally conclude that the temptations that Jesus Christ Our saviour faced in the wilderness was a psychological one, without the presence of a physical tempter on sight. As we move further into this discussion, we will get to understand why Jesus temptations were psychological. May the Holy Spirit guide us into all truth in Jesus name. Amen.
LET’S BEGIN WITH THE REBUKE OF JESUS CHRIST AGAINST PETER
Matthew 16:23 “But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”
In considering the statement of Jesus Christ to Peter above, we can see that Peter was not a Satan as Jesus Christ called him, but one of the chosen twelve apostles by Jesus Christ Himself to be His disciples Luke 6:13. So, why will Jesus called His own disciple, who few minutes ago was described by Jesus Christ Himself as a man not operating under the influence of flesh and blood, but under the influence of the Holy Spirit, which produces a divine revelation of the true personality of Jesus Christ Matthew 16:17.
WHAT THEN HAPPENED?
Let’s see why Jesus Christ had to address Apostle Peter as ‘Satan’.
Matthew 16:21 “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. 22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.”
Jesus Christ has just revealed to His disciples what lies ahead of Him in Jerusalem, concerning His suffering, death and resurrection, Peter began to rebuke Him saying ‘this shall not be unto you’. Here, we discovered that it was not the same Holy Spirit that just revealed the true personality of Jesus Christ to Peter a short while ago that was speaking through Peter now. Jesus understands that this was flesh in action and therefore, He had to curse the root and operator of flesh, which is Satan. This is because they that operate in flesh cannot please God Romans 8:8.
The language of Peter at that material time was not of heaven but of the world, where Satan is the ruler, chief operator and god 2 Corinthians 4:4. We can therefore see that Jesus Christ was not addressing Peter as a person, but the evil spirit that manipulated his mind at that moment, hence Apostle Peter warned us to ‘give diligence to make our calling and election sure, that if we are able to do these things, we shall never fall’ 2 Peter 1:10. Halleluyah!
From the above scenario, we have been able to establish that the mind is the battle ground for every form of manipulations, temptations, disobedience and sin that we usually get ourselves involved in, hence Jesus said “it is what comes from within that defile a man” Mark 7:23. When you fail to resist the devil at every given time when he whispers sin into your mind James 4:7, you may become a victim of temptation when it overcomes you, whereas the Bible warned us to overcome evil with good Romans 12:21. May the LORD teach us more so that no temptation will overcome us today in Jesus name. Amen.
LET US ALSO CONSIDER THE CASE OF JUDAS ISCARIOT TO GET A CLEARER PICTURE OF THIS DISCUSSION
Luke 22:3 “Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.”
Yes, Judas Iscariot was also one of the twelve, although Jesus Christ had identified and called him a devil John 6:70-71 previously, because Jesus knows every man John 2:24, but then, it was the devil that used him against his Master because he allowed him. You can see that it was the mind of Judas Iscariot that was corrupted, thereby manifested in the greed that led him to sell his own Master for thirty pieces of silver Matthew 26:15, though it was a prophecy that Prophet Zechariah foretold that was fulfilled Zechariah 11:12. The battle ground is indeed in the mind, hence Paul says in Romans 7:23 “BUT I SEE ANOTHER LAW IN MY MEMBERS, WARRING AGAINST THE LAW OF MY MIND, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”
Of course, the battle raging in your mind is between two sworn enemies:
1. The Holy Spirit, and
2. The flesh.
If you are operating under the influence of the flesh in your mind, my friend, you can never obey the word of God, even in the minutest form Romans 8:7. Whichever of these two personalities fighting for supremacy in your mind is yielded to; the other simply gives way Galatians 5:17. You must however remember that God says “My Spirit shall not always strive with man” Genesis 6:3, which ought to put you in the check whenever you are going against the will of God.
One of the definitions of temptation says ‘The desire to have or do something that you know you should avoid’. Ask yourself: Am I obeying everything my mind tell me, even when it is against the will of God?
LET’S ALSO CONSIDER THE CASE OF DAVID TOO
1 Chronicles 21:1 “And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.
2 And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it.
3 And Joab answered, The LORD make his people an hundred times so many more as they be: but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord's servants? why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?
4 Nevertheless the king's word prevailed against Joab. Wherefore Joab departed, and went throughout all Israel, and came to Jerusalem.
5 And Joab gave the sum of the number of the people unto David. And all they of Israel were a thousand thousand and an hundred thousand men that drew sword: and Judah was four hundred threescore and ten thousand men that drew sword.
6 But Levi and Benjamin counted he not among them: for the king's word was abominable to Joab.”
From the above scripture, we discovered that Satan was the brain behind the numbering of Israel that David commanded Joab to carry out, even though Joab tried to resist King David but he wouldn’t listen. (It’s just the same way that most of you supposed Christians are been encouraged with the truth today, but you are always stubborn by saying your pastor didn’t tell you this and that were sin. Be careful.) This decision of David can be seen that he was fast drifting away from the LORD, to now consider the strength of Israel’s army to see if they were able to fight their enemies in battles. This action of David displeases the LORD and He smote Israel for it. 1 Chronicles 21:7 “And God was displeased with this thing; therefore he smote Israel.” Thank God David quickly realized that he had sinned against God by numbering the people and repented by saying “I have sinned greatly and I have done foolishly”. 1 Chronicles 21:8 “And David said unto God, I have sinned greatly, because I have done this thing: but now, I beseech thee, do away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.”
So, the battle was in the mind, and the devil was the one that ministered to the mind of David at that moment. But thank God that David understood this very well by saying ‘I have’ when God rebuked him because, had David tried to blame the devil for that deadly mistake, God would have asked him: ‘Did you seek my consent before you carried out your thoughts in action?’ Of course, David would have been speechless. Praise the LORD. Halleluyah!
One lesson I learnt here is the fact that repentance and forgiveness is closer to the person who admits his errors in order to make a correction, that the one that blames every other person for his errors, faults and failures. Check yourself now.
LET’S NOW SEE THE TEMPTATIONS OF JESUS CHRIST
1 “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.”
The temptations of Jesus Christ were both carried out in the wilderness and in the city of Jerusalem, right in the church building Matthew 4:1, 5, 8. Before we proceed further, let’s note here that Jesus Christ was a man while on earth 1 John 4:2, though He was not born after blood, nor will of the flesh, or will of man John 1:13 and therefore He was prone to temptations, but He sinned not Hebrews 4:15, because He was born of God 1 John 3:9. Okay!
Now, the temptations of Jesus Christ by the devil in the wilderness were a psychological one, which has to do with the battle of the MIND. Remember from the previous people we considered in this discussion earlier, what befell them were all psychological temptations, which means the devil messed their minds up and they ended up doing or saying what they were supposed to avoid. This was the same state that Jesus finds Himself during His temptations by the devil but He overcame them all. Amen.
I outline three things to consider here in other to establish that the temptations of Jesus Christ were psychological – the battle of the mind.
1. Jesus is God John 1:1 and therefore, it is NOT POSSIBLE for Satan to have a physical interaction with Him by coming to Him. Remember when Satan was casts out of heaven, it was not God that drove him out but Michael the Archangel and his angels Revelation 12:7-9.
2. Although Jesus was a man in all standards during His temptations, it is however NOT POSSIBLE for the devil to drag His hands like a young child and take Him to the pinnacle of the church in Jerusalem, as seen in Matthew 4:5, and to the top of the mountain as seen in Matthew 4:8.
3. Jesus created everything including the devil himself Colossians 1:16 and therefore, it is NOT POSSIBLE for the creator to be subjected to His creature.
Meanwhile, although the pictorial dimension of the temptations of Jesus Christ suggests a physical battle (the tempter physically present), however it was a psychological one as we shall discover in the progress of this discussion. Amen. It is my prayer that our eyes of understanding be enlightened in Jesus name. Amen.
Therefore, the first temptation that Jesus battled with in His mind was the appetite for food. Ordinarily, since He was a man at the time, He was bound to be hungry after undergoing forty days and forty nights fasting and prayers Matthew 4:2. So immediately the fasting ended, food was the next thing that will come to play right away to refresh Himself. So, since He was in the wilderness and no access to cook food, His mind suddenly triggered Him and He said: ‘Am I not the Son of God, who nothing is impossible with as Me and my Father are the same John 10:30. Why don’t I speak to these stones now and convert them into bread since I am hungry?’ Matthew 4:3.
But He quickly remembered His word that says “that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live” Deuteronomy 8:3, and He therefore rebuked that thought in His mind. If He hasn’t died for the past forty days and nights without food, is it this minute now that He will die? Wasn’t God that sustained Him in the past forty days and nights without food?
You see, the battle was raging within His mind but He overcame it using the word of God to address that situation. This is why we need the word of God to overcome any form of temptation that may come our way today. Amen.
After Jesus overcame the temptation over food, He came to Jerusalem and straight to the temple He went Matthew 4:5. So, why Jesus was there in the temple, somehow He decided to climb to the highest point of the temple through the stairs. And when He got up there, He looked at the ground through a window and behold, it was very far. A thought then arose in His mind: ‘Should I jump from here to the ground will I die, after all am I not the Son of God? No, you wouldn’t die His mind had told Him’, reminding Himself that My word declared that ‘God will give His angels charge over Me to keep me so that I will not hurt Myself when I fall’ Psalm 91:11-12.
He understood it quickly too that this was putting the LORD to the test against His own word in Deuteronomy 6:6. So, he rebuked that thought and declared “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” Matthew 4:7. You can now see that there is a word from God, written down in the Bible that you can use to overcome any form of temptation that may come your way today. Hallelujah!
Finally, to the wilderness Jesus returned again after leaving the temple and this time, His mind drew His attention to the glories and the kingdom of this world, when He climbed up to an exceeding high mountain Matthew 4:8. His mind at that time moved Him to start contemplating how He might possess this world, and therefore, His mind told Him that Satan is the god of this world 2 Corinthians 4:4, and the only way you can possess this world is to swear allegiance to Satan and worship him because they are all his properties Luke 4:6. The battle was at its peak here because His mind was building another god to be worshipped outside the Almighty God Exodus 20:3. Hmm! Friend, will you worship another god when you are facing the toughest of all battles regarding your Christian faith? Remember, only overcomers have access to “eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” Revelation 2:7
Jesus knows the grave consequences of having other god before the Almighty God and therefore, He rebuked that thought by declaring “Get thee hence Satan Matthew 4:10, while He quoted Deuteronomy 6:13 to defeat His thought. Someone may ask here: Where is the Satan that Jesus rebuked? It was the impure thought that came to His mind that He called Satan, just as the case with Peter Matthew 16:21-23. I hope you know that Satan is behind every impure thought. Praise God.
THE DEVIL INDEED RETURNED
The Bible says that “the devil left Jesus for a season after the temptations were ended”, and that Jesus “returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee” according to the account of Luke in Luke 4:13-14. From here, we discovered that Jesus ministry was now of the Spirit and therefore, no room for the devil to come into His mind again to tempt Him, even as He also received the endorsement of Heaven Matthew 17:5. But the devil actually returned, and not only tempting Jesus Christ again, he equally engaged two of His disciples to accomplish his wicked plans but he still failed.
First, when Jesus Christ had showed His disciples what lies ahead of Him in Jerusalem Matthew 16:21, the devil through the mind of Peter rebuked the LORD Matthew 16:22. At that time, Peter was telling Jesus to see reasons why He should not die, after all God is the God of the living and not of the dead Matthew 22:32. Had Jesus succumbed to this mindset of Peter, He would have sunk the ship of His purpose on earth right there, which was to save us from our sins Matthew 1:21. So He addressed Peter by rebuking the devil that was manipulating his mind by calling him ‘Satan’ Matthew 16:23. Hallelujah!
Secondly, the devil showed up to Jesus Christ during His prayers of travail in the garden of Gethsemane, and interestingly, it was also three times that the devil tempted Him again though it is not recorded in the Bible as ‘temptations’ Matthew 26:36-46. This time, His mind flashed back to the suffering and pains He was to undergo shortly which He had earlier made known to His disciples. The devil then whispered to His mind: ‘You know that you can avoid all these suffering ahead if you choose to, after all it is not compulsory that you must die for the world’, and then Jesus somehow must have thought over it and then declared “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me” Matthew 26:39, signifying a sort of refusal to go ahead with the sufferings.
However in the three occasions, Jesus quickly reminded Himself that He didn’t come to do ‘His own Will’ but the ‘Will of the Father that sent Him’ John 6:38, which He had earlier taught His disciples to always seek during their prayers Matthew 6:9-13, but emphasis on verse 10 which says “Thy kingdom come. THY WILL BE DONE IN EARTH, as it is in heaven.” He equally remembered that though He was a King, but it was for this cause of suffering he came into the world to bear witness to the truth John 18:37. Glory be to God.
And thirdly, the devil came through the mind of Judas Iscariot to equally tempt Him. Was Jesus Christ ignorant of the wicked intentions of Judas Iscariot to betray Him? No, as He had earlier spoken about it during their dinner Matthew 26:20-25. Moreover, Jesus also knew that His sufferings and everything about it all were predestinated as was captured in His word, the Holy Bible Psalm 22:1-31; Isaiah 53:1-12; Daniel 9:26.
Why didn’t Jesus fights back when Judas Iscariot came with the people from the chief priest and elders to arrest Him? Matthew 26:47-56. If He had fought back, how would the scriptures concerning Him would have been fulfilled? Matthew 26:54, 56. He needed not fight because He knew that He came for this purpose which was written of Him Psalm 40:7. So, He simply asked Judas “Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?” Luke 22:48. If only we could be like Our Master Jesus, who always knows the plans, tactics and approach of the devil when He was tempted, I tell you, we will also be victorious today in every form of temptations we may face. Amen.
HOW DID JESUS CHRIST OVERCOME ALL HIS TEMPTATION?
One thing was outstanding here which is taken from John 14:30 “Hereafter I will not talk much with you: FOR THE PRINCE OF THIS WORLD (devil) COMETH, AND HATH NOTHING IN ME.” Jesus Christ prepared His ground to overcome all His temptations and so, He overcame. But if you have the properties of Satan with you, there’s no way you will overcome your temptations, but it will overcome you just like the case of Judas Iscariot Matthew 27:5.
He overcame fully taking refuge in the word of God Psalm 119:9. He knows that the word of God which is the truth Himself is able to set one free and give him victory over every temptation John 8:32. The word of God was written in the table of His heart Jeremiah 31:33, hence He could not sin by refusing to yield to the temptations Hebrews 4:15. No wonder the Bible declared in Psalm 119:11 “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, THAT I MIGHT NOT SIN against thee.”
During the temptations that Jesus faced, it were very possible for Jesus to have demonstrated His power as God, but this would have spell doom for His assignment of the redemption of humanity Matthew 1:21. In one occasion Jesus said “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” Matthew 26:53. In another occasion He said “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above” John 19:11. All these were to prove that He has the power to do anything He wanted but, he rather chose obedience in order for the scriptures to be fulfilled Matthew 26:54, including His shameful death on the cross Philippians 2:8.
Victory is certainly yours in every temptation you may face when you allow the word of God to reign supreme over every area of your life. Remember that God is aware of any temptation that may come your way today Job 1:12 and therefore, He will make escape route for you so that the temptation does not overcome you. 1 Corinthians 10:13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” Amen.
IS TEMPTATION A SIN IN ITSELF?
No. However, when you yield into temptation, it then becomes sin hence the Bible says “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience” James 1:2-3. If temptation were to be a sin, would the Bible have asked you to be joyous when you fall into it? This is because God want to truly prove how much you loved Him against the other things seeking your attention.
Another thing you must quickly note here is the fact that God does not tempt any one James 1:13, but he allows the temptation which you are able to overcome to come your way 1 Corinthians 10:13. No wonder one school of thought says ‘temptations are my exams for the heavenly race’.
The life challenges of Brother Job should be a case study for you Job 1:1-22; 2:1-8. In all that befell Brother Job while experiencing his temptations, which were physical and vexatious, tough, harsh and painful agonies, the Bible still says “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” Job 1:22. Who will stand like Brother Job today? May the LORD give you such a wonderful grace of faith to handle any temptation wisely in Jesus name. Amen.
Brethren, if Jesus Christ Our Master and saviour could overcome His temptations as a man though God, you too will overcome yours today in Jesus name. Amen.
The temptations of Jesus Christ were psychological, as well as that of Apostle Peter, Judas Iscariot and King David we discussed here. Knowing that our mind is the battle ground against all forces (physical and spiritual) as Christians, we therefore need to soak ourselves into the word of God in order to be able to stand having done all Ephesians 6:13.
May the LORD richly bless you in Jesus name. Amen.
If you have been blessed by this discussion, or you have some reservations or contribution, please don’t hesitate to comment.
God bless you.