The Gospel of Luke - Part 13: Overcoming Temptation

(These notes are based on lesson notes prepared by Rob Mahon for Connection Class Leaders at Hoffmantown church.)


Last week, we started the study of Chapter 4 of Luke, Where Luke introduced the ministry of Jesus. Luke makes the repeated point that God was with Jesus.

We discussed some of the things that we can learn from the experiences of Jesus, even before he began his ministry. Immediately after John baptized Jesus, The Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness where he was tempted by the devil.

We learned that He was, and we should be:

We looked at several Principles that we could learn from the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness:

Principle #1: Temptation is not sin.
Principle #2: You don't have to be out of God's will to be tempted.
Principle #3: Satan seeks to tempt us when we are most vulnerable.
Principle #4: Satan can even use Scripture to mislead us.


This morning, we pick up there. Let’s read the temptation story from Luke again. 

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry. And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’ ” And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. “Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ ” And he led Him to Jerusalem and 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; for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and, ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ” And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time. --Luke 4:1-13

The next principle we can take from this passage is:

Principle #5: Satan has great power.

Satan shows supernatural power when, “in an instant” he shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world.

And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. --Luke 4:5
When the devil offers Jesus these kingdoms, Jesus doesn't challenge Satan's domain statement. In Second Corinthians 4:4, Satan is described as “the god of this world”. whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. --2 Corinthians 4:4
Satan has great power and great influence in this present world. He should be taken seriously!

Principle #6: Satan uses the same basic temptations on everyone.

First John 2:15-16 suggests three broad areas of temptation:

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world:
-the lust of the flesh and
-the lust of the eyes and
-the boastful pride of life,
is not from the Father, but is from the world. --1 John 2:15-16
Satan uses all three of these. If you read Genesis 3, you'll be able to see these three areas also in the serpent's temptation of Eve.

First Corinthians 10:13 states that we all struggle with the same basic temptations in different forms:

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. --1 Corinthians 10:13


We need to be ready to resist:

By studying Satan in this passage we can learn how he tempts us. By studying Jesus, there is much we can learn about how to resist temptation: Let’s look at some things we can learn about resisting temptation from Jesus’ example in this passage.

Principle #1: Keep a right relationship with God.

Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit” and being “led by the Spirit” (v.1) when He was tempted. Contrast this with King David who would end up committing adultery and murder because he stayed home “at the time when kings go out to battle”

Then it happened in the Spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem. --2 Samuel 11:1
We are more vulnerable to temptation if we are out of fellowship with God or not doing what He wants us to be doing. Obeying God, staying in His will, is our best protection from the devil's attacks. Jesus resisted these great temptations as a real man.
For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. --Hebrews 2:18
We can call upon Jesus in times of temptation, because He is at our side.

When Martin Luther was asked how he overcame the devil, he replied, “Well, when he comes knocking upon the door of my heart, and asks ‘Who lives here?’ the dear Lord goes to the door and says, ‘Martin Luther used to live here, but he has moved out. Now I live here.’” When Christ fills our lives, Satan has no entrance.

Principle #2: Jesus used God's Word to resist the devil. Every time Satan presented a temptation, Jesus responded by quoting a passage of Scripture:

Notice, too, that Satan never argues with the Scripture Jesus quotes.

Knowing what God has said and having His Word in our hearts is great preparation for when we are tempted. The Psalmist told us that this is a great defense.

How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. … Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You. --Psalm 119:9,11
Simply memorizing Scripture is no guarantee that I won't yield to temptation. But it does help! In times of temptation, the Spirit can bring God's Word to mind to help us know what is right to do. Maybe this is why God's Word is called the “sword of the Spirit”
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. --Ephesians 6:17
But we still have to choose to do what is right. Often temptation begins in our thoughts.  And memorizing and meditating on Scripture helps fill our minds with God's thoughts. Second Corinthians 10:5 speaks of “taking every thought captive to obey Christ”.
We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. --2 Corinthians 10:5
A factor in fighting temptation involves being filled with God’s Word. Jesus knew the truth of, “I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).   So if we fill our hearts with His Word, sin and temptation cannot dominate us.

What are you doing to fill your heart with God's Word?

Here are a few suggestions - why not pick one to start working on?

Principle #3 Pray - ask for the Lord's help.

When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, one of the requests was, “Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’ --Matthew 6:13
We need to pray - pray for protection from temptation and evil, pray that God will help you to love what He loves and hate what He hates. You know the temptations you especially struggle with - how often do you talk to the Lord about them? Really, in real terms. He knows. Do you really think they are a secret?

Principle #4: Assess the influence others have on you.

Jesus was a “friend of sinners” but He did not continually associate with people whose hearts were hard toward God. First Corinthians 15:33 states:

Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”

“Do not be fooled: Bad friends will ruin good habits.”
If there is someone who is pulling you away from God or pushing you toward sinful behavior, you may need to distance yourself from that person.

Principle #5: Have friends who encourage you and hold you accountable.

Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. --Hebrews 3:12-13
We all need friends who will pray for us and with us and ask us the hard questions, to be sure that we are not succumbing to temptation.

Max Lucado writes: “Satan is the master of the trapdoor and the author of weak moments. He waits until your back is turned. He waits until your defense is down. He waits until the bell has rung and you are walking back to your corner. Then he aims his dart at your weakest point and ... Bullseye! You lose your temper. You lust. You fall. You take a drag. You follow the crowd. You rationalize. You say yes. You sign your name. You forget who you are. You walk into her room. You look in the window. You buy the magazine. You lie. You covet. You stomp your feet and demand your way. You deny your Master. It's David disrobing Bathsheba. It's Adam accepting the fruit from Eve. It's Abraham lying about Sarah. It's Peter denying that he ever knew Jesus. ... It's your worst nightmare. It's sudden. It's sin.”

For eight years, Sally had been the Romero family pet. When they got her, she was only one foot long. But Sally grew until eventually she reached eleven-and-a-half feet and weighed eighty pounds.

Then on July 20, 1993, Sally, a Burmese python, turned on 15-year-old Derek, strangling the teenager until he died of suffocation. Associated press Online (7/22/93) quoted the police as saying that the snake was “quite aggressive, hissing, and reacting” when they arrived to investigate.

Sins that seem little and harmless will grow. Tolerate or ignore sin, and it will eventually lead to death.

Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. --James 1:15
The study of the temptation of Jesus is a deep mine of great teaching. Remember it as a way to cope with the temptations of life. He is with you to resist.  Just ask.


Next Week(s):

I have been invited to travel to Billy Graham’s teaching center, The Cove, in Ashville North Carolina for an international conference entitled the Christian Executive Leadership Forum. It is a conference of Christian businessmen across the country and some from around the world, to discuss how corporate leaders can and should practice their Christianity in the work place. Zell Miller, the retiring Senator and former governor of Georgia will be speaking. You may recall that I have quoted Zell Miller here in class. He was a featured Democrat at the Republican convention. He is a fire and brimstone speaker. He is like John the Baptist, he does not mince his words. We will hear from Chairman Emeritus of Service Master and John Tyson, the chairman and CEO of Tyson Foods. We will hear presentations from senior executives of several national and international companies and Navy Admiral Vern Clark. I am looking forward to it, but that means that I will be gone next Sunday, (May 15) and Terry will fill in.

The three Sundays after that Pat and I will be in Italy. As I mentioned, I was going over to interview for the papacy, but they filled it before I got there. The new Pope is pretty old, so there may still be a vacancy by the time we get there, so I am taking my resume. (Just kidding!)

Actually, this trip is a vacation with some friends.

May 22 - Two weeks from this morning, I have arranged for one of our elders, Bill Hooten, to teach the next lesson in Luke. I want you to meet Bill and get to know him. Besides being an Elder and a teacher in his own class, he is a close friend of mine and we work together on several business and civic things. We are fortunate to get Bill to teach one Sunday.

May 29 and June 5 - The last two Sundays that I will be gone, Terry will continue the Luke series. Please show up to give him homework assignments like you give me when I am here. I am depending on you.

So, next week Terry will continue with the study of Luke picking up after the temptation of Jesus, with Luke 4:14

To prepare, re-read Luke 4.  Come with lots of tough questions.