I was reading Matthew 4 today and came across a fascinating perspective on Jesus’ response to Satan’s temptations. I’ll highlight the passage and follow it with Chuck Smith’s comment on it.
The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Now, the usual comment on this passage is about Jesus using God’s own Word against Satan and without digressing into smaller arguments based on human reasoning. What Chuck Smith comments on, in his Study Guide on Matthew, is not what is in the passage but what isn’t,
Jesus answered all the temptations with God’s Word. When tempted, we should get into the Word to find the strength to resist, because prayer is NOT our defense in these times. [emphasis added]
This is a new perspective for me. Many times, when I’ve been tempted, my first thought is to pray to God to take it away or to give me the strength to endure it. The Author of our faith, however, already promised that,
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
So, God has already told us He will provide the way of escape. God has done His bit but we have to do ours and what is that? We are being tempted. We are either tempted by Satan or by our own sinful nature and one or the other is telling us a lie in that moment. A lie is a false assertion. A false assertion can convince you it is truth and lead you to believe it. Lies need a response to avoid leading us into a false belief which can lead us into a wrong decision. The response must be to the speaker of the lie, either ourselves or Satan. Prayer is petition to God; It is not a response to the lie or the liar. That’s why we need to go into God’s Word to find the truth that rejects the lie. Now we have the ammunition to stop the lie and the liar in its tracks!
Prayer is our defense when God is silent; God’s Word is our offense when God has spoken.
God has spoken. What are you praying for?