Now that brings us to the big question, the one for which we’ve reviewed this history of Christ’s temptation. How did the Lord Jesus Christ come out on top of them? How did He resist them and overcome? The answer to this is contrary to what most people think, for they think that He did it by drawing on His divine nature. They believe that He had more power to resist temptation than we do.
It is true, of course, that Jesus did have more power than we do. But there’s nothing in the Bible to show that Christ ever resisted temptation by drawing on His divine nature. Jesus was both man and God. Yet He resisted temptation as a man. What’s more, it is for this reason that He is an example for us when we are tempted.
So let’s ask the question again: How did Jesus resist the temptations that are recorded in Matthew 4? Well first, He had just spent forty days in fasting and in prayer, submitting Himself to God. And in the second place, He replied to the devil at every instance by quoting Scripture. Satan had come to Him saying, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” This was a temptation to put physical needs above spiritual ones, and Jesus answered by saying, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
It was a direct quotation from Deuteronomy 8:3.
Next the devil took him up to Jerusalem and, placing him on a pinnacle of the temple, challenged Him to throw Himself down, trusting God to bear Him up. In this way Christ would appear to be coming from heaven, and thereby gain an immediate following. The devil even quoted a verse of Scripture to show that the angels would catch Christ before He hit the ground. Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy 6:16, “It is written again, Thou shalt not put the Lord thy God to the test.”
In the final temptation, Satan asked Christ to worship him in exchange for this world’s glory. This was a spiritual temptation. And Jesus replied, “Get thee hence, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Once again Jesus resisted the devil, with a quotation from Deuteronomy 6:13.
The point is that Jesus overcame temptation from the devil just as we are to overcome it: by prayer and knowledge and use of the Bible. Certainly when we learn to pray as Jesus prayed, and when we know the Bible as Jesus knew the Bible, then we will experience victory over our temptations also.
Moreover, if we do these things, we will also have great confidence before God, even when we are faced with temptations. We will pray that God will keep us from temptation, knowing that “God is faithful, and that he will not permit us to be tempted above that we are able, but will with the temptation also make a way of escape, that we may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13).