Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
(Matthew 4:5-7 ESV)
After failing to get Jesus to sin by exercising His rights, today Satan tries another tactic. Notice a few things about Satan’s second attempt.
First, Satan knows the Bible. He knows it better than we do (but not better than Jesus) and will very often misquote it or take it out of context to get us to sin. This is exactly what he did with Eve in the Garden of Eden [Genesis 3:1-5].
Notice also that this second temptation is the opposite of the first one. In the first one Jesus was tempted to act independently of God. In this one, He is tempted to force God into acting. Either such approach to life is sinful. Even more, for Jesus to throw Himself off the pinnacle (roof) of the temple would be to call attention to Himself. This is also sin [Luke 14:7-11].
Satan’s entire goal in tempting Jesus was to get Him to sin, which would invalidate His future ability to pay for the sins of mankind, as only a perfect, sinless substitute could die in our place.
Since Jesus had refuted Satan’s first temptation by quoting Scripture [Matthew 4:4], Satan then uses the Word of God to trick Jesus into doing something sinful. So he quotes part of Psalm 91 in which God promised to take care of anyone who put their trust in Him. But Satan quotes it out of context.
Jesus’ response, a quote of Deuteronomy 6:16, shows us that the entire Bible is our reference. We can’t take a few verses and apply them independently of the whole in order to justify sin. But this exactly what Satan does to us all the time.
For example, many non-believers will quote “do not judge” [Matthew 7:1] in an effort to silence a Christian when discussing a sinful behavior. Sadly many Christians don’t realize that this command by Jesus is given within a broader context so they back down, giving Satan a victory.
Hindus often quote the sixth commandment as “do not kill” in an effort to promote their philosophy of vegetarianism. But this is a misquote, not to mention is in direct opposition to other verses in the Bible such as Genesis 9:3, Exodus 16:11-12, Romans 14:2-3, and others.
The truth is we need to know the entire Bible. I don’t think this is too much to ask. Too many Christians can quote Seinfeld or their favorite movies, yet when confronted by Satan they can’t respond, if they even realize they are being tricked.
The Word of God is our only offensive weapon when it comes to battling Satan [Ephesians 6:10-17]. But like any weapon we need to know how to use it.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.