Now we come to the second temptation listed in the Temptation account in this week's scripture. Jesus had already resisted Satan's plot to lure Jesus away from The Father's will by appealing to his hunger and physical need. Jesus resisted by The Word and by His Authority in who He was. The devil's bag of tricks is deeper still and we see more cunning in this temptation:
Then the devil took Him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.”
Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the LORD your God.” Matthew 4:5-7(NLT)
Notice the mimicry. Jesus used Scripture to overcome Satan's temptation with the bread...now Satan tries his luck at using Scripture. This is Satan’s way of fighting fire with fire. He will use God’s Word as a weapon…but not accurately. Twisted Scripture is dangerous to us. Satan quotes Psalm 91:11-12 and implies that Jesus can test God by jumping. We do not glorify God by putting ourselves in harms way and begging Him to rescue us. Jesus isn’t swayed by this attempt. He says ‘It is Written again’ and quotes Deuteronomy 6:16 to correct Satan. Jesus’ jumping would have been Him testing The Father.
Let's go back to our 1 John text to see how the Word categorizes this type of temptation:
Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. (1 John 2:15-17 NLT)
Every thing that we see is not always an opportunity. Just because we could do something does not mean that we should. Just because God's power would be shown if He rescued us from jumping off a building does not mean that this is God's will. You and I can be tempted to 'live on the edge' to 'push the envelope' and to trust God to make up the difference. Surely, God can and often does rescue His people...but it is not our job to manufacture those opportunities with lose living.
We could jump off and then see God rescue us and be proud of our jumping...we could even call that a 'leap of faith'...but it would be a leap of testing and we are not to test our Holy God in this way. We should never use God's Word to inspire our poor decisions. Any one of us can pick and choose Scriptures to line up with just about any way of thinking...but that doesn't mean it is God's Way! God's Word is fully inspired and fully cohesive...that means that we must interpret it together. We cannot contradict the clear teaching of scripture by taking one section out of context or we will get ourselves into trouble.
Obviously, Jesus knew the Word well enough to refute Satan's poor choice of temptation...but for you and I this can be a huge issue. We must know The Word so we do not test The Lord. This is a key to overcoming temptation and overcoming other negative situations in our lives. Are you committed to The Word? Are you regularly placing it in your heart and mind so that you can rightly interpret and rightly refuse temptations. My prayer is that we will each commit ourselves to The Word in this way.