Matthew 4:1-4 Jesus And The Lust Of The Flesh

by | Oct 19, 2023 | Matthew, New Testament

I. General Observations

A. Temptation

1. Tempted- peirazō; pi-rad’-zo To test, to scrutinize, assay, examine, to prove, to try.
2. Root word– peira; pi’-rah. To test through the idea of piercing.
3. Thayer’s- to test: to ascertain what one thinks, or how he will behave himself.

a. Can be used in a good sense. To prove the good character of someone.
b. In a bad sense- to test one maliciously & craftily in order to put to the proof his feelings or judgments. To prove that he is bad, wrong, a failure.

4. Other words used in place of the word “tempting”.

a. Matthew 22:35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him…
b. Acts 16:7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. (They were seeking & “testing for” God’s will)
c. 2 Cor. 13:5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.

5. To be tempted doesn’t mean that one is sinning.

a. Jesus was tempted, and yet was without sin. (2 Corinthians 5:21a)
b. To give in to temptation is to sin
c. God tests us to show what us what we are made of.

i. Also, to prove our good character. (Job 1:8, 22)
ii. God allows and uses Satan to tempt us, so that we may grow in faith.
iii. Satan uses those opportunities to try to destroy us.

B. The Timing Of Jesus’ Temptations

1. Jesus had just been baptized by John. (Matthew 3:13-17)
2. The Holy Spirit had come upon (epi) Jesus at His baptism. (Matthew 3:16)
3. Jesus begins His public ministry as a man filled with the Holy Spirit.
4. The 1st thing the Holy Spirit does is to lead Jesus into a spiritual battle with Satan.
5. Mark 1:12 Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. (cast forth)
6. Jesus will resist these temptations as a man filled with the Holy Spirit, not as God.

C. The Purpose Of The Temptations

1. Hebrews 4:15, 16 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy & find grace to help in time of need.
2. Jesus willingly took on flesh and subjected Himself to all human temptations in order that we might know that he understands the struggle, and we may more freely and confidently go to Him for help in our time of need.

II. Jesus Was Tempted In The Flesh

A. A Physical Desire

1. 1 John 2:15-17 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

a. Lust-passionate craving, extreme desire.
b. “Lust of the flesh” speaks of fulfilling needs/desires pertaining to our bodies.

i. Can be for the most basic needs, i.e. food, clothing, shelter.
ii. Can be for legitimate desires, i.e. comfort, general health, sex drive, orthodontics, laser eye surgeries. Not life or death items, but legitimate.
iii. Can be for luxurious, hedonistic desires, i.e. bigger home than is necessary, extreme preoccupation with one’s own physical body on any level, creature comforts.

2. Jesus’ temptation regarding the flesh

a. Jesus fasted for 40 days. Hunger pains end about day 5, return about day 40.
b. At that point, the body is starting to consume itself. Point of starvation.
c. Jesus mercilessly tempted at a basic need: food. Passionate craving for food.
d. Clarke- The “well circumstanced temptation”. Circumstances were just right.
e. Satan does not care about our weaknesses. He is called “The Destroyer”.

B. Satan’s Method

1. Correct analysis, recognition, and validation, and of the fleshly need/desire.
2. NOTE- Satan is an observing adversary. He knows how to temp us regarding the flesh.
3. Satan recognizes who Jesus is. “If” can also be translated “since”.
4. “If/since you are the Son of God, you have the power to do this”.
5. “You have a valid need, and you have the power to change the situation”.
6. “You are justified in acting in the manner I (Satan) am suggesting.”
7. “If you are the Son of God”- not because he disbelieved Jesus’ divine Sonship, but because he wanted Jesus to act in accordance with his divine prerogatives and thereby fail to pass the test as a man.
8. Satan acknowledged Jesus’ relationship w/the Father; but he tried to redefine it & distort it. “Act of your own accord, independent of the Father”.
9. Adam Clarke- The meaning of this temptation is: “Distrust the Divine providence & support, and make use of illicit means to supply thy necessities.”
10. If Jesus would have failed, He would have been unable to be our sympathetic High Priest, and He would have failed to show us how to gain victory by the power of the Holy Spirit.

C. Jesus’ Victorious Response

1. Jesus responds by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3
2. “Man does need bread, but bread alone is not sufficient”. God’s Word is more important.
3. God’s purposes are higher than even a man’s need for food, water, even life itself.
4. Adam Clarke- God purposes the welfare of his creatures—all his appointments are calculated to promote this end. Some of them may appear to man to have a contrary tendency…become a means of supporting that life which it seems naturally calculated to impair or destroy.
5. “True, the Son of God was able enough to turn stones into bread; but what the Son of God is able to do is not the present question, rather, what is man’s duty when suffering the physical needs of the flesh? As man, therefore, Jesus would await the divine supply, not doubting that at the right time it would arrive.”

III. Things For Us To Consider

A. Jesus did not act independently of the Father, even though at the point of death.
B. Do we direct our lives according to the needs/desires of our flesh?
C. Do we change our physical circumstances, appearance, comfort, needs, “because we can”?
D. Do we pursue physicals changes because society dictates their importance?
E. Do we consider that our physical lack may be part of God’s higher plan for us and others?