It Is Written

Matthew 4:5-7; Luke 4:9-12

“It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

The gospels of  Matthew and Luke record three distinct attempts by Satan to tempt Jesus. These were (1) to turn stones into bread; (2) to test God by throwing himself off of the pinnacle of the Temple; and (3) to fall down and worship Satan in exchange for all the kingdoms of the world. And since there were no other eye witnesses to these temptations, we must conclude that it was Jesus himself who later described them to his disciples.

In all three instances, Jesus resisted the temptation by quoting from scripture. However, in the second temptation, Satan actually did some scripture quoting of his own. Satan was quoting from the 91st Psalm when he said, “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.’” (Psalm 91:12) Jesus responded with a straightforward command from the book of Deuteronomy, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Deuteronomy 6:16)

It is interesting to note that all the Bible passages Jesus quoted from during his temptation can be found in the book of Deuteronomy. It is in Deuteronomy that Moses instructed the people of Israel to keep the commandments of God upon their hearts, and to impress them upon their children.

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9)

Jesus did not quote from the prophets or the psalms, or other more obscure portions of the Bible, but instead drew from the rudimentary passages that every Jewish child would have learned from infancy.

Jesus, who is our example in all things, has provided us with a valuable object lesson in “spiritual warfare.” When the enemy tried to confuse and complicate the truth, Jesus made no attempt to refute his arguments by engaging him on his own terms. Instead, he demonstrated that reliance upon the simple and basic commands of God is enough to resist the lies of the enemy. He has shown us how important it is to have the word of God hidden in our hearts, and that we can always take refuge in his faithfulness and truth.

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