The Defeat of Satan

Most will be familiar with the scene:

Jesus is led into the wilderness for 40 days and is tempted by the Devil; yet for many the ‘why’ question is never pondered.

Consider the following verses from the book of James: “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:13-14)

Here we are clearly told that God is not the source of temptation, that much we probably all know. But surprisingly we are told that neither is Satan the source of temptation! Temptations actually come from within, from our own twisted human nature. The notion that ‘the Devil made me do it‘ is bad theology and simply not true!

There are only two individuals in human history that did not inherit sin from their parents, so did not have a ‘twisted human nature’ to begin with. The First Adam and the Second Adam (1 Cor 15:45 / Romans 5:14-19)  – Adam, the son of God and Jesus, The Son of God.

Oswald Chambers notes:

“According to the Bible, there are only two Men: Adam and Jesus Christ, and God deals with them as the representatives of the human race, not as individuals. All the members of the human race are grouped round these two Men. The first Adam is called “the son of God”; the last Adam is the Son of God, and we are made sons of God by the last Adam. The Christian is neither Adam nor Jesus Christ, the Christian is a new man in Christ Jesus. The first Adam and the last Adam are the only two Men according to God’s norm, and they both came into this world direct from the hand of God”.   (Oswald Chambers, The Psychology of Redemption)

It is to these two alone that Satan comes directly, bringing his temptations. But why? What was Satan hoping to achieve in tempting Jesus? As Dr Arnold Fruchtenbaum puts it:

“Satan’s aim in these temptations was to cause Messiah to sin. He simply tried to accomplish the impossible. Messiah is impeccable. He simply is not able to sin. However, that did not discourage the fallen one from attempting the impossible”. (Dr Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Yeshua: The Life of Messiah)

The real issue, I believe, goes back to the time of Creation and the fall of Lucifer, and his subsequent distain for mankind.

Firstly, let’s establish some scriptural facts:

  • We are not told when angels (including Lucifer) were created, but they must have been created by the time God laid the foundations of the Earth.
    • “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?
      declare, if thou hast understanding.
      Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest?
      or who hath stretched the line upon it?
      Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened?
      or who laid the corner stone thereof;
      When the morning stars sang together,
      and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7)
    • For all the sons of God (angels) to shout for joy as God laid the foundations, it is obvious they had been created and were witnesses to God’s work of Creation.
  • Genesis chapter 1 repeatedly tells us that God’s work of Creation was good, and Ezekiel chapter 28:13-15 tells us that Lucifer was in Eden, the Garden of God in his unfallen state and therefore must also have been amongst the ‘all’ of Job 38:4 that shouted for joy as God created the Earth.
    • This places the fall of Lucifer at some time after the 7 days of Creation.
  • 1 Timothy 3:6 tells us that it was pride that led to Lucifer’s fall. Isaiah 14 tells us that he wanted to be ‘like the most High’ (Isaiah 14:14)
    • Lucifer was not foolish enough to think he could ‘become God’, rather he craved what Adam had been given, namely to be made in the ‘image and likeness of God’ (Gen  1:27), and to be given dominion over this incredible Earth that God had created.
  • It must have been a rude awakening to Lucifer’s ambition to discover that the Earth God had created was going to be given over to this ‘man’, and not to him!
    • The book of Esther serves as a role play of this very scene.
      • In Esther ch 6 we find that king Ahasuerus could not sleep one evening, so decided to read. He read of a failed plot to assassinate him a short while before that had been uncovered by Mordecai. He called in Haman – the archenemy of the Jews – and asked: “What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour?” (Est 6:6). We are told that “Haman thought in his heart, To whom would the king delight to do honour more than to myself?” (Est 6:6).
      • In the same way, as God created the Earth, Lucifer thought to himself, “To whom would the king delight to do honour more than to myself?” Satan evidently thought that this World would be given to him! Instead, just as ‘Haman’s reward’ was given to Mordecai, so this world was given to the man God had created – Adam.
  • In rebelling against God, Lucifer (light bearer) became Satan (adversary) and took one third of the angels with him (Rev 12:3)
  • Satan then set about to deceive this man God had created and claim the title of the Earth for himself.
    • We know from 2 Corinthians 4:4 that, for now, Satan is ‘the god of this world’ and, for now, “the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (John 5:19 NIV).
    • Satan was ‘successful’ in taking control of this world.
  • However, according to God’s laws, the right of ownership can be reclaimed by a kinsman (family member) – a study of the book of Ruth puts this into context!
  • Rather than defeat Jesus at the cross, Satan actually forfeited his right to rule and, in effect, signed his own death warrant on account of the fact he had committed first degree murder and shed ‘innocent blood’ (Matt 27:4 / Gen 9:6).
  • Now it is just a matter of time until the full title of the Earth passes back to the Kinsman of Adam, Jesus Christ, as we read in Revelation 11:15  “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever”.

So, what does all this have to do with the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness?

Quite simply, it was another attempt by Satan to show that Adam, and any descendant thereof, was not worthy to be given the honour of ruling this Earth. Furthermore, if Satan had managed to get Jesus to succumb, it would demonstrate that God’s plan in creating man and giving him this honour was flawed! God would be shown to be wrong, and Satan vindicated in his original ‘objection’ to God’s plan and his assertion the he should have been given this honour!

Incredibly, this is the second time Satan had the audacity to challenge God’s plan, attempting to show that man was unworthy of this honour and that Satan himself was right!

The first time is recorded in the book of Job. There, Satan challenges God that ‘no man can worship God simply because He is God’. The allegation is that man only worships God because of the blessings God gives. Take away the blessings and man will cease to worship God.

As we know from the account in Job, Satan’s argument is destroyed! Job demonstrates that, even with all the blessings stripped away, man can worship God simply because God is God! “Though He slay me, yet will I tust Him” (Job 13:15).

So Satan’s attempt to vindicate himself (and justify his rebellion) is defeated on both counts!

  • Man can worship God for who He is apart from any blessings that may come from Him.
  • Man can life a life of selfless obedience to God. Although Adam failed in this regard, Jesus Christ, the Second Adam did not succumb to these temptations, and now, through Him, all who receive His nature in them (through being born again) can live a sinless, selfless life in obedience to God the Father (1 John 5:18).

God is justified in His creation and honouring of man and Satan shown to be wrong in his assertions and the basis of his pride completely undermined!

In closing…

…it is worth mentioning that the actual temptations Jesus faced are of the same nature we face, albeit the source is different.

1 John 2:16 tells us: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world”.

This summary of sin (and hence temptation) is shown in both Genesis 3 (Adam/Eve) and Luke 4 (Jesus):

In Genesis we see that:

  • Eve saw the fruit was good for food
    • the lust of the flesh
  • Eve saw it was pleasant to the eyes
    • the lust of the eyes
  • Eve desired to be wise like God
    • the pride of life

In Jesus’ temptations we also see the same pattern:

  • “And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.” (Luke 4:4)
    • The lust of the flesh
      • The appeal to the appetite
      • The temptation to satisfy a legitimate need in an illegitimate way
  • “And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine”(Luke 4:5-7)
    • The lust of the eyes
      • The appeal to the desire
      • The eyes are the window of the soul
  • “And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.” (Luke 4:9-11)
    • The pride of life
      • The appeal to the ego
      • The need for self-worth and acceptance

The writer to the Hebrews makes the point that we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin”.   (Hebrews 4:15)

Our temptations come in the form of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the pride of life. Jesus was tempted in all these points, yet without sin!

For each of the temptations with which Satan tempted Jesus, Jesus’ response was always to quote scripture – to ‘fight back’ with The Sword of the Spirit (Heb 4:12). This is our most sure ally also. David prayed “Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.” (Psalm 119:133) and Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalm 119:11).

Paul tells us that “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

God will always give us a way of escape. If we resist the Devil, he will flee from us (James 4:7).

Jesus endured these temptations to 1) defeat Satan’s claim over man, and 2) give us a pattern to follow when we ourselves are tempted. “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:17-18).

“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him!” (James 1:12)


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