In this sermon, we are going to look at the example of temptations in the bible.
In our example of temptations in the bible, we will place our focus on the temptations of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we will try to answer the question often; asked what do the 3 temptations of Jesus symbolize.
After that we will move on to study the temptations of His two disciples Peter and Judas Iscariot.
But considering the fact that the very first example of temptations in the bible is that of Adam and Eve; let us briefly discuss that first.
The temptation of Adam and Eve.
Then the serpent said to the woman, “you will not surely die. ‘For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.Genesis 3:4-5.
From the above scriptural text of Adam and Eve’s example of temptations the bible, we can see how the devil went to Eve, and by means of temptation; was able to deceive her to go against the commands of God.
The trick worked because the woman, desperate to be like God; ate the fruit and afterwards gave it to her husband who could not resist her.
And when God came to them, they found out it did not occur the way the devil told them, but the way God said it would be.
Because their falling into the devils temptation brought the generational curse; death, upon them and their children.
If Adam and Eve had known that, the devils means of misleading human beings is through temptations; they wouldn’t have listened to him and ate of the fruit.
The 3 temptations of our Lord Jesus Christ and what they symbolize.
The first temptation.
Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread. But He answered and said, “it is written, ‘man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.Mathew 4:3-4
In the first temptation of Jesus as one of the example of temptations in the bible, the devil asks Jesus to change stone into bread. But Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 to overcome him. (Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes out from the mouth of God).
What does the first temptation of jesus symbolize?
The stone symbolizes the word of God – which is the food of the spirit.
The bread symbols the physical food we eat to survive in the world.
So the devil asking Jesus to change the stone to bread means that; Jesus should abandon the word of God and yield to the good things of the world.
(You can relate this to the parable of the sower in Mathew 13, where the sower in the first ground sows seed on the wayside and the birds – the devil – is able to devour the seed i.e. to steal the word of God away from the hearer.)
And by reminding the devil that, God had already said that man will not need bread alone to survive but the word of God; Jesus taught us that, we should yield to the word of God and ignore the things of the world.
And when you link this to the second and third ground of the parable above; you will discover that, the two things the devil will use to make you lose the word are:
- The tribulations or persecutions a Christian will face (Verse 20/21) and
- The cares of this life and deceitfulness of riches (Verse 22).
Thus, the tribulations and persecutions was the hunger Jesus faced after His fasting. And the bread the devil offered him is the cares of the world and deceitfulness of riches.
That is the same way the devil always offers us the good things of life in difficult times; so that we can lose our faith.
The second temptation.
Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “if you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge concerning you,’ and, ‘in their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. Jesus said to him, “it is written, you shall not tempt the LORD your God.’”Mathew 4:5-7
In this temptation, the devil asks Jesus to jump from the highest pinnacle of the temple misquoting Psalm 91:11-12, which God promises to send His angels to save and deliver Him, but Jesus overcame him quoting Deuteronomy 6:16.
Now the devil is still using this same temptation to bring the downfall of so many Christians today; even as he always did with the children of God from the onset.
What does the second temptation of jesus symbolize?
This temptation simply symbolizes putting God to the test.
Satan succeeded in using this example of temptation in the bible to destroy the Israelites in the wilderness when he made them put God to the test by complaining that, He had forsaken them. Even after seeing the many signs and wonders God did through his servant Moses.
- They complained about food and God gave them manna.
- Secondly, they complained of meat and God provided.
- After that they complained they were dying of thirst and God made water flow out of the rock for them.
And because they caused Moses to sin against God in the last complain (Exodus 17:1-7) when next they complained at Kadesh God finally became angry and sent poisonous snakes to bite and kill them as we can see in Numbers 21:4-9.
Even till today, majority of Christians are always fond of putting God to the test.
Whenever they are faced with a little difficulty in life, they will start complaining that God has forsaken them; overlooking those many times and things He has been doing for them.
God has always shown us the way we ought to follow in order for it to be well with us. And also forewarns us of the dangers that lies ahead and tells us how to avoid them.
But still we walk into them thinking He will deliver us, and when He doesn’t; we begin to complain and blame Him for our problems.
Beloved this attitude attracts a great wrath from God as you saw what happened to the Israelites.
Supposing Jesus had jumped as the devil said trusting in the scripture he quoted, and probably end up breaking His legs or arms; He would have started complaining and blaming God that His words are lies.
How to avoid this kind of temptation.
So always learn how to avoid the things that will endanger your life; so that you will never complain afterwards that God has abandoned you in your difficult times.
For example: if you were travelling along the way; and you come to know that armed robbers are robbing people ahead. And to avoid them you have to either wait, go back or divert to another track; as others do, please do it.
Don’t drive ahead claiming you are a child of God and God will deliver you from their hands; because this attitude is directly tempting the Lord your God. Let it be that you were not alerted beforehand, then He will intervene and deliver you.
The third temptation of Jesus Christ.
Again, the devil took him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “all these things I will give You if You fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to Him, “away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘you shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.Mathew 4:8-11
In this temptation, the devil told Jesus to bow down and worship him, showing Him all the good things of life; with the promise to give it all to Him after He worships him.
And Jesus overcame him with the word of God in Deuteronomy 6:13 which say ‘you shall worship the Lord your God and Him only you shall serve’.
What does the third temptation of jesus symbolize?
Now thousands of people today are into Satan worship, knowingly and unknowingly; in order to gain all the good things of life-fame and fortune.
But they do not know that all these things are vanity and will soon perish, even as Solomon; who after all the riches and good things he gained in life made us aware of this fact in Ecclesiastes 2:4-11.
Moreover the word of God has helped us to understand that, the same way we came empty into this world is the same way we will return empty when we leave it.
And one funny thing is that the devil has nothing to give us, since everything existing belongs to God.
He will only steal it and give to you, and when the owner recovers his property, you are left with nothing.
And worst still you will have to die quickly so you can assist him steal for those he continues to deceive every day, and destroy their souls even as the scripture says in Mathew 16:26: ‘what shall it profit a man to gain the world and loose his soul.
The temptation of Peter.
And the Lord said “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat, “but I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren”. But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you, both to prison and to death.” then He said, “I tell you, Peter , the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know me”Luke 22:31-34
Now in the same Luke 22:55-62, we can see how what Jesus predicted concerning Peter came to pass.
From this scripture we can understand that, Satan’s plan was to use his same old and only weapon – temptation – to make Peter deny Jesus.
And this he wanted to do so he can use that opportunity to accuse him before God; and thereby harden his mind to miss the position of the rock that Christ earlier gave to him.
If Jesus did not foresee this and prayed for Peter, he would have not been able to restore himself back.
Why Peter wept bitterly.
Now when People read in the bible that peter went and wept bitterly, they think that he just went and cried.
But there is no way Peter would have just stayed there and wept without saying a word.
So with that knowledge, we find out that, Peter’s weeping was coupled with a plea for repentance.
In other words, he was sorrowful for the wrong he had committed, thereby repenting and asking God for forgiveness.
So Peter clearly shows us the only way a child of God can be quickly restored, once the devil has succeeded in tempting him to fall into sin.
What we should learn from Peter’s temptation.
So Peter’s example of temptations in the bible must serve as a very big lesson to us Christians.
We must always be mindful of the fact that Satan is always out with his weapon – temptation – in order to make us deny our Lord Jesus through our sinful actions.
He is always fighting, endlessly, to make us go against His word; so he can use that opportunity and cause our downfall.
In Peter’s case, he already had the word from Jesus that he will deny Him, but Peter said such a thing can never happen because he is ready to go anywhere and die with him.
And from his heart he was willing and ready to keep his promise to his Master, but when the devil came in he caused Peter to forget about what Christ had told him earlier and went against His word, not until after the cock crew and Jesus turned around and looked at him was he able to realize himself and repented of what he just did.
The temptation of Judas Iscariot.
Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money.Luke 22:3-5
From this scripture we can understand the trick Satan used in Judas example of temptations in the bible.
He was able to convince him that, if he collects money and betray Jesus, the soldiers will not be able to arrest him. Because, he had witnessed when they tried on several occasions to arrest Jesus but He always escaped mysteriously.
So Judas taught that after he collects money and brings the soldiers to where Jesus was, He will escape from them. And he will then be able to eat their money because, he has fulfilled his duty of taking them to Jesus hiding place.
That was why, when he found out that it was not as he taught, i.e. after Jesus was successfully arrested; he went to return the money back to the chief priests who refused to collect it from him, so he threw it at them; and went and committed suicide
Therefore, if the devil succeeds in making you to sin and afterwards harden your mind, you are forever lost, never to be found anymore.