Matthew 4: Spirit-led Temptation?

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.–Matthew 4:1

Who ordained Christ’s temptation? Who ordered this action? Was this temptation an idea from Satan? Was the evil one behind this? No. The Spirit set up this temptation. The Spirit ordained that Christ would be sent into the wilderness for the direct express purpose of being tempted by the evil one. In a sense, you can unashamedly call this: Spirit-led temptation. God was behind the whole thing.

You may be thinking, “But Brother Dan, the book of James tells us no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone. This is true. God does not directly tempt anyone. But God does set things up on purpose and puts things into motion for an intended result. God wanted Jesus to suffer through this grueling test. God purposed it. God didn’t directly tempt Jesus, Satan did. Satan was the bullet, but God pulled the trigger and set things into motion. God is the planner, Satan is the executioner. You don’t like this analogy? It’s not my analogy, it comes from the Old Testament.

God didn’t create evil, but He will use it. This is why the Bible says in 2 Samuel 24:1 Again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.” The LORD incited David. BUT, it turns right around in 1 Chronicles 21:1 and says this about the same event: Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. This time it says that SATAN incited David! David took the bait, ordered the census, and thousands were killed as a result. According to Scripture, who tempted or incited David to sin? God or Satan? The answer from Scripture: BOTH! God does not directly tempt anyone. But, He will order it to happen and use an instrument (the evil one) to directly bring about the temptation.

What was Christ’s response to His wilderness experience in Matthew 4? What comment would He soon make in Chapter 6 after going through that horrific ordeal? How did Jesus Christ respond to the whole idea of God being the director of leading somebody into temptation by the evil one?

He responded by saying that we should address the following plea directly to God on a continual basis:

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one–Matthew 6:13. Notice that He doesn’t ascribe these leadings to the Devil. He is clearly and unequivocally saying, “Father, we don’t want YOU to lead us in this way”. Out of all the pleas in the “Lord’s Prayer”, this one was the last one; it is the Anchor. Jesus knows through experience that God will set up these temptation encounters. As we saw earlier, King David wouldn’t argue with this point. With that in mind, we should be asking Him to spare us as much as possible. Jesus says we should attempt to talk the Father out of it. If it wasn’t possible to talk God out of leading us in this way, then why would Jesus encourage us to do so? Remember, God wants a real relationship with give-and-take dialogue. Does God Change His Mind? Ezekiel’s Story

This is one of the basic tenets of how we should be dialoging with God. But most of us don’t talk to Him about this, we don’t recognize that He sets up these opportunities for doing evil (or overcoming evil), we ignore it on a daily basis. We wait until something happens, and then we beg for deliverance. Jesus said we should be proactive and clearly address God’s role in these trials! We often don’t even know what we are saying when we recite the Lord’s prayer. How often have you looked directly at God and said, “Please don’t set up any plans or orders for me to be tempted today. It is clear from Scripture that you do ordain testings from the evil one. I’m not rebuking the devil right now, not even Michael would do that. Jesus said that I should plead with YOU to spare me from the testing. Please spare me today.”

We have not because we ask not. If we don’t understand how God works, then we risk being confused and ineffective. Don’t take God or His goodness for granted. Dialogue with Him. At the same time, God is not a meanie Would Our God Create Lucifer Knowing He Becomes Satan? You may not like this post, but I promise that it is about to get very thought-provoking and good. There is real purpose behind the testings.

So, why was Jesus tempted so severely in the wilderness? What was the outcome? What was the product? What did this do for Jesus on a personal level? What did He gain? For us, besides learning to deal with temptation, what benefit(s) are we not seeing?

Stay tuned for more from Matthew 4.

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