Jesus’ 40 days in the desert to be tested by the devil give us a strategy for defeating temptation. First Satan may use our physical needs against us, in order to tempt us to live for ourselves, rather than living in a dependent relationship on our heavenly Father. Jesus refused to use his own power independently in order to meet his own physical needs. Jesus understood his mission to give his life for many. If he starved to death in the desert, he was OK giving his life in that manner. Likewise, we need to understand our purpose and role in the Kingdom. Just like Jesus, as sons and daughters of God, we live and serve at his pleasure to accomplish the purposes that he has set out for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).
Second, the devil may use Scripture against us. In this case he used Psalm 91:11-12 against Jesus to get him to test God. In this case he used Scripture to test Jesus regarding pride. Would Jesus make an open demonstration of God protecting him to reveal who he was? Here on this occasion, Jesus again revealed his dependent relationship upon our Father. He would not force his Father’s hand and make him fulfill what he had promised through the prophet David. He was fine living in relative obscurity without a clear revelation of who he was. For us, it is key that we realize that Scripture can be used to tempt us, we need to keep in mind the higher principles of the Kingdom to hold us in check. Again as in the first temptation, we must grasp our role in the Kingdom. We are not seeking recognition or the praise of men. Jesus lived out what we read Peter exhorting all of us to do, to humble ourselves before God and in due time he will lift us up ( 1 Peter 5:6-11).
Finally, Satan may use our own desires for ease and comfort against us. He offered Jesus a short cut to Lordship over the earth. Rather than taking a shortcut to power and authority, Jesus preferred to honor God. Jesus was willing to endure suffering in order to accomplish what God had for him. Again in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus reaffirmed his commitment to submit to our Father’s will rather than follow his own desires. Even though Jesus was the Son of God, he learned obedience through what he suffered (Hebrews 5:8). Did you catch that? Jesus, like us, needed to learn obedience! We are not on earth to seek out success and comfort, but to accept difficulties that come our way in order to become what God created us to be. This is why James can write to us that we are to consider it all joy when we encounter difficulties in this life, because those difficulties produce in us endurance, which in turn brings us to a state of perfection and completion in Jesus (James 1:2-4).
Like Jesus, we are to come to understand who we are, who God is and learn to live according to our heavenly Father’s design for our lives, so that when we come to the end of our earthly journey, we too can say “it is finished” and hear Jesus tell us “well done”.