March 6, 2022

NO temptation

NO temptation

Luke 3 tells us that Jesus was being baptized, then the Holy Spirit led Jesus to a very shocking encounter. The text for this sermon is Luke 4:1-13.

Greensburg Church of the Nazarene
31 Bluebird Lane, Greensburg, KY 42743

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**not a word for word transcript, but the sermon manuscript**




Today is the first Sunday of Lent, a time when the Church specifically remembers and reflects on life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Many fast from something during this season, but that should only be done if it is something that costs us. What God ultimately wants from us is to not put on a show for the world, but for us to draw closer to Him.


Our passage for this message is immediately following an important moment in the life of Jesus. Jesus was baptized by his cousin, John the Baptist, and the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus, followed by a voice from heaven. The voice said, “This is my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased.” (Luke 3:22) The event that follows should cause us to pause.




1 Then Jesus left the Jordan, full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” 4 But Jesus answered him, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone.” 5 So he took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 The devil said to him, “I will give you their splendor and all this authority, because it has been given over to me, and I can give it to anyone I want. 7 If you then, will worship me, all will be yours.” 8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” 9 So he took him to Jerusalem, had him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written: He will give his angels orders concerning you to protect you, 11 and they will support you with their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” 12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said: Do not test the Lord your God.” 13 After the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time. (CSB)


This is the Word of God, for the people of God, thanks be to God.




*** Key verse ***


Verse 13 has an interesting phrase at the end. “For a time.” What we just read and are about to dig into is about good struggling with evil. But this phrase tells us this is only one battle in an ongoing war in the life of Jesus. However, there is an important lesson for us.

** Into the wilderness ***


After the experience of his baptism, Jesus is led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness. This event is recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Each of these writers highlights that it is the Holy Spirit that sends Jesus into the wilderness. Not only does the Spirit lead Jesus into the wilderness, but it leads him into conflict with darkness. Jesus was not led to where it was spiritually safe and comfortable, but on a collision course with the devil himself.


***In the wilderness***


The devil is going to tempt Jesus three times. First, the devil knows Jesus is hungry. He also knows that Jesus is the Son of God. Later in the chapter, other demons recognize who Jesus is truly is also. In verse 3, the devil says to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Again, the devil is not questioning Jesus’s identity, he is appealing to that identity. Remember, Jesus has been fasting for forty days, that makes for one rumbly tummy. 


Jesus is both fully human and fully God, as God he has the power to do exactly what the devil suggests. However, if Jesus does that he is using this power to serve Himself. That is not his purpose, Jesus came to serve not to be served. So, Jesus responds not by arguing with the devil about his identity, or by what His identity means. He responds by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3.


When that did not work, the devil comes at Jesus with a second temptation. Showing Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, the devil said, “I will give you their splendor and all this authority, because it has been given over to me, and I can give it to anyone I want. If you will worship me.” (v6-7) The devil is offering Jesus the worship of this world and the power over it. Stuff Jesus already was getting, only this way without the Cross.


If Jesus went this route, He would be worshipped and have power, only it would be a hallow power. To get it, Jesus would have subordinate himself to the devil. Notice that Jesus does not deny that the devil has power, but Jesus is not about to settle for a lesser power. So, He sternly responds, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” Which is Deuteronomy 6:13.


For a third time, the devil comes at Jesus. This time the devil tells Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here.” (v9) The devil quotes Psalm 91:11-12, implying if Jesus jumped off angels would come to His rescue. And as the angels catch Jesus, they will lower Him to the ground safely for all to see. Jesus instantly would gain a reputation with everyone.


This is a reckless game to play with God. Jesus responds with Deuteronomy 6:16, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” What is interesting about Jesus quoting this verse is that He is not saying this to the devil. These words are a call to self-denial.



*** The way ***


Jesus, as man but also as God, was tempted. He understands the pressure that comes with navigating this life and offers from darkness to turn away from God’s will. The writer of Hebrews wrote, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in everyway as we are, yet without sin.” (4:15)


And verse 13 tells us that this incident in the wilderness was not the only time Jesus was tempted. When Peter rebukes Jesus for talking about His death, that was a temptation. In Gethsemane, before being arrested, Jesus is facing temptation. Each time, Jesus did not sin by giving into the temptation.


How did Jesus do this? By denying Himself and submitting to the will of God. His body was like our bodies, which had the same desires as our own. But Jesus made them subject to God. Being fully God as well fully human, Jesus denied Himself the powers of divinity in overcoming these temptations. The way Jesus overcame temptation was through the same means available to us.


*** This is the way ***


Temptation comes at us in the same ways it did Jesus. Immediately following a powerful encounter with God, the forces of darkness will go to work to undermine it. Or when you or I are already low, the devil slithers in and kicks us while we are down. Every person faces temptation. And just as the Holy Spirit led Jesus into this danger area, the Spirit will do the same with us. The only way to rescue others from darkness is to follow the Holy Spirit into it, where temptation will be waiting.


It is important to know what temptation is and is not. Temptation is not sin, giving into temptation is sin. According to the theologian, R. Alan Culpepper, temptation is “any pursuit, priority, or preoccupation that diverts us from our purpose.” Our purpose is to worship God. Anything that seeks to separate, keep, or distract us is temptation.


God’s will for us to be holy does not change just because we are tempted. Nor does it change because as human beings we are prone to sin. Jesus endured temptation to show us the way. This is the way to overcome temptation, by denying ourselves and submitting to God. This is the way because by denying ourselves, we allow the Spirit of God to work through us. This is the way because there is NO temptation that can overcome Him.




What is the way to overcome temptation? Resist the devil. Not by your own might, but by relying on the same Holy Spirit that led you out to plunder the strongholds of darkness.