The Works of Satan
October 13, 2019
Dr. Andy Woods
Open to Genesis 3:1. As you know, we’ve been doing this study on angels. We’ve covered the good angels. From there we began moving into satanology. We’ve been spending a lot of time on satanology.
The reason we’re covering satanology with angels is that Satan, as we’re learning, was at one time a high-ranking angelic being. We’ve look at his existence, his personhood, his names, and titles. And then we got into his original state and first sin. There are two passages that help us with that (Ezekiel 28:12-17; Isaiah 14:12-15). From there, as we were talking about his original state and first sin, there’s a discussion because God hasn’t given us unlimited information on it.
There’s a debate among Christians concerning, “When exactly did Satan fall?” The first view is that he fell some time in eternity past before the world was. I’ve shared with you why I have a difficult time with that. One of the problems I have with it is that when Satan fell it looks like he’s cast to the earth. There in Ezekiel 28:17 it indicates, “I cast you to the ground…”
The Isaiah passage is even clearer where it says, in Isaiah 14:12, that he is thrown from heaven to the earth. Now, it’s kind of hard for Satan to fall to the earth before the earth existed. Amen? So, I have a difficult time with the idea that Satan fell in eternity past.
But, as we’ve talked about, what many people believe is that there’s a gap of billions of years at the end of verse 1 and at the beginning of verse 2 of Genesis. That’s called the Gap Theory. The idea is that’s when Satan fell.
We spent a lot of time looking at the Gap Theory: the definition of the Gap Theory; evidence favoring the Gap Theory; responses to the evidence; problems with the Gap Theory, etc. All that being said, I’m really not of the persuasion that there is such a gap. So, if there is no gap there, then I don’t think Satan could’ve fallen in between those verses as many teach.
The last time I was with you I gave you this third view, which is really not a majority view. But it’s still out there in the commentators. It’s the view I lean towards, that the fall of Satan happened sometime after the six days of Creation but before Genesis 3. There’s a period of time there that doesn’t seem to me like an awful long period of time, but there’s an undisclosed period of time there, nonetheless.
We really don’t have any idea how much time there was at the end of Genesis 1:31 but before Genesis 3. I have a tendency to think it’s not a million years or a billion years (something like that) because God said to Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:26-27, “…be fruitful and multiply.”
By the time you get to Genesis 3 it doesn’t seem like Adam and Eve have any children yet. When you go to Genesis 4 it gives you the impression that Cain was the firstborn. All of that being said, I don’t know how much time there is between Genesis 1:31 and Genesis 3. But I’m of the view that’s when Satan fell.
Part of the reason I think that is because of the superlatives in Genesis 1:31 which says, “God saw all that he had made [as He’s looking back now on the Creation week], and behold, it was very good.” So, this is looking back on everything that God created in the six days of Creation, even including the heavens, if you look at Genesis 1:1. Even including the heavens and the earth.
ERETS is the Hebrew word for earth. “The heavens” is SHAMAYIM. And when you have that “im” ending in Hebrew, that connotes… anybody know? Plurality. He’s looking back on everything that He had done, and He doesn’t just say, “It’s good.” He says, “…it was very good.” And if that’s true, how could Lucifer’s rebellion have already taken place and Satan and one third of the angels already rebelled against God? I’m of the view that the fall of Satan—if I had to take a guess at it—happened sometime after Genesis 1:31, because that statement to me looks very strange if Satan already fell. After Genesis 1:31 but before Genesis 3.
Just to show you that this is not some weird view I came up with because I was having trouble sleeping or something one night, it is the view of Renald Showers, a long time theologian (very good theologian) with Friends of Israel. He says, “Satan’s fall took place in the interval between the end of creation and the fall of man.”
We’re not really told why Satan fell, but it may have something to do with the authority that God had vested Adam and Eve on Day 6. Perhaps that invoked some kind of jealousy on the part of Satan, and that’s why his fall took place not that long after.
Is this view something to start a new church over? Is this part of our doctrinal statement? Are we saying, “If you don’t believe this way, you’re not a Christian?” No. It’s just a particular leaning I have on this.
I had thought we were going to be finished with satanology and we were going to move into demonology this week. But I noticed that there’s part of this outline we didn’t complete yet, and that’s number 5 which I’d like to start today concerning the works of Satan.
We’ve looked at his existence, his personhood, his names and titles, his original state and first sin. And now we move into his works. What does he do? Here we’re looking at what he’s done in the past, what he is currently doing in the present—even right now as I’m speaking—and then what is his future. Dealing there with what we might call the eschatology of Satan. What does the Bible reveal about the future of Satan?
I’ve given you this example of game day—game tapes/game recordings. All those years I played basketball we would always watch video tapes (or recordings) of the team we were playing that week. We would watch them on video, and we were basically trying to figure out the strategies of the opposing team. Who’s their tallest guy? Who’s the shortest guy? Who’s their best shooter? Who’s their leading scorer? What kind of defense do they run, etc.? You develop your own strategy based on the strategy of the opposing team.
So, looking at the works of Satan is a lot like looking at the game recording the week before a game. The Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2:11 (concerning Satan) that “…we are not ignorant of his schemes…” I’m afraid today the church, because they’ve really not given themselves over to the subject of satanology, are very ignorant on how Satan operates. That’s the value—that’s the practicality—of looking at these things.
Let’s start with what he has done in the past. The very first thing he did in the past historically—after he fell that is—is he lied to Adam and Eve. That’s why I had you open up to Genesis 2:16-17, where God gave our forebears instructions. This was actually the easiest job description on planet earth that God gave to Adam.
Eve hadn’t even been created yet, and Adam was supposed to relay this to his wife. This is what the original instruction said, “The Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely [you might want to underline the word “freely”]; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.’” “Do whatever you want; just don’t eat from the Tree of Knowledge.”
When you go to Genesis 3:1, we have the serpent now slithering into Eden—a talking snake. We have no doubt as to who the snake is because the Book of Revelation defines him as a serpent in two places (Revelation 12:9 and Revelation 20:2).
Notice how Satan alters the original commandment that God gave. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Indeed, has God said, “You shall not eat from any tree of the garden”?’” Now, is that an accurate rendition of the original command? God never said you couldn’t eat from any tree in the garden. He said, “You can freely eat from any tree you want— just not one. Stay away from one. Don’t eat from one: the Tree of Knowledge. What would you call that? That’s a distortion of God’s Word. That’s a lie, in other words.
You’ll notice that Satan uses the Scripture. The only Scripture they probably had up to this point in time was Genesis 2:16-17. He moves into operation, and he begins to manipulate the Scripture that they had. This becomes, really, a key thing in understanding how Satan operates: he takes existing Scripture and changes it or alters its meaning.
So, when those folks show up at your doorstep (not if, but when), riding their bicycles, two well-dressed young men carrying not the Bible but other bibles that we as Protestants don’t accept—the cults, in other words. When you get into a conversation with them, they’re going to quote the Scripture, I’ll tell you! And unless you’re on your game, it’s probably not even good to have a conversation with them. Unless you’ve studied what it is they’re going to say.
There are websites out there that will help you with that. I recommend Ron Rhodes’ ministry. It’s called Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries. He’s very good on the cults.
They’re going to quote the Bible, but they’re going to take a bunch of things out of context. They’re going to say things like—if you’re dealing with the Jehovah’s Witnesses—that Jesus was a created being. Obviously, that’s not true. There was never a time in which Jesus was not. So, they’re taking Scripture and they’re twisting its meaning. And that’s what you see Satan doing here.
Then, if you jump down to Genesis 3:4, you’ll notice that Satan ups the game. First, he comes out in a half-court press. Now he’s in a full-court press. “The serpent said to the woman, ‘You surely will not die!’” Now, obviously, that’s a direct rejection or denial of what God said in Genesis 2:17, “You will die.” Now he’s saying, “You won’t die.”
You’ll notice how Satan operates. First, it’s a more of a subtle lie, “Indeed, has God said, “You shall not eat from any tree of the garden”?’” Satan doesn’t come out and deny God’s Word overtly or expressly; it’s more tacit. But as you move through the conversation here in Genesis 3, now he moves into full-blown denials.
Satan is pretty smart. We’re told here that he “…was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.” He doesn’t come out and reveal his most aggressive lies out of the gate, because that would probably have tipped off Adam and Eve. Particularly Eve—that something is wrong here. So, he gives a subtle lie first, and then he gives a more aggressive lie later. These are just things to observe as you watch how Satan works and operates. He very clearly—at the very beginning of human history—lied to Adam and Eve.
What else did he do? According to Genesis 6:1-4, he corrupted the pre-flood gene pool. You’re saying, “What in the world are you talking about?” Well, don’t worry about that yet, because we have a whole series of lessons coming up on that issue once we finish demonology. Just tuck that back into your memory banks; we’ll be returning to that.
What else did Satan do? He accused and afflicted Job. You’ll find Satan accusing Job in Job 1:9-11 and Job 2:4-5. When Satan is in the presence of God, God says, “Have you considered My servant Job?” Satan says back to God, “Skin for skin!”
The only reason he follows you, God, is because you bless Job. Take away some of those creature comforts. Take away his air conditioning, for example. That one hits close to home, doesn’t it? “…he will curse You to Your face.” Of course, what happened to Job was a little bit worse than an air conditioning malfunction!
He does the same thing in Job 1:9-11. And not only that. He didn’t just accuse Job, but he afflicted Job. When God gave Satan permission to afflict Job, his whole family died except for his wife who stood there right by his side, as a good woman of God, and said, “Why don’t you just curse God and die?” That’s not what we need from our families in a time of emergency. Amen?
Everybody’s dead. His livelihood disappears—his cattle—his business, in other words. Then in Job 2:7-8 (by God’s allowance of this) he was afflicted with a skin problem of some kind, from head to toe. Of such a severity that he had to break pottery and use the potsherds to scratch himself to alleviate himself from the anguish that he was in. So, that’s part of the record of things Satan has done in the past.
What else has Satan done in the past? There’s this very strange reference in the Book of Jude. You might want to look at that for a minute, Jude verse 9. The way the Protestant New Testament is organized, Jude would be the second to the last book. So just go to Revelation and hang a left. You know where Revelation is, right? Amen? That’s easy to find.
In Jude 9 there’s this really strange statement, and it says this, “But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’” I think Gabe covered the Book of Jude, didn’t he? So he no doubt covered that verse.
I think one of the things Gabe mentioned in his series on the Book of Jude is that, as Christians, we’re not in the yelling match business with Satan. We’re not trying to give Satan a black eye and run him out of town. We’re not even in the business of “binding Satan.” The Bible is very clear that the binding of Satan is something Jesus will do (Revelation 20:2-3) when He sets up His Kingdom.
We’re living in the devil’s world. We are largely playing defense against Satan. That’s how you interpret our posture against Satan. God has given us resources for living in the devil’s world. One of them is James 4:7, “Resist the devil and he will flee…” And you have other passages like Ephesians 6:11, which tells us to “Put on the full armor of God…”
We’re going to be going through some of those things that we are to do while we’re living in the devil’s world, such as the armor of God, etc. When we get out of demonology, we’ll talk about how to protect ourselves from Satan.
I bring that up because Michael himself didn’t want to get into an argument with Satan. Michael is not just an angel, but he’s in archangel. And he really wanted nothing to do with yelling at Satan, screaming at Satan. I look at these TV evangelists, and that’s all they do is yell at Satan. Why would they do it when Michael himself wouldn’t want to do it? That reveals an awful lot about how we should be engaging Satan—and not engaging Satan.
Apparently, there was some kind of conversation in heaven that took place between Michael and Satan. Perhaps it wasn’t in heaven—it could’ve been anywhere, but it was concerning the body of Moses. They got into a dispute concerning the body of Moses.
This is actually a quotation from one of the pseudepigraphal books. Jude will make reference to the Book of the Enoch and he will make reference to the Assumption of Moses. Everybody says, “Ah, ha!” Well, the Book of Enoch and the Assumption of Moses are very late books. You’re talking about second century BC (if I have my dates right) to second century AD—right in there. There are these books that are written. But they’re not written by the true Enoch; they’re written by someone using Enoch’s name from the Bible falsely to give legitimacy to his own writings.
Same with The Assumption of Moses. People think that because Jude quotes those books, then those books are inspired. Those books are not inspired. They’re helpful—if you want to get into those. It’s like reading Josephus, the first century Jewish historian. He fills in a lot of details and gaps about the Bible, but we don’t look at the writings of Josephus as inspired.
Why would Jude quote those books? Because the Holy Spirit acknowledges that there are a few phrases in those books that are true. The Holy Spirit directs Jude to the right parts of those books to quote. But just because you acknowledge that some of the things in those books are true, it doesn’t make the whole book true.
For example, I like to quote Thomas Jefferson. One of the things I like to quote, which Thomas Jefferson wrote, is the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson said, “…all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…”
Now, when I quote the Declaration of Independence, I’m not saying that everything Thomas Jefferson ever said and did is true. I mean, Thomas Jefferson himself owned slaves. I don’t agree with that. Thomas Jefferson himself, in order to create a Bible that was more amenable to the Indians, cut the miracles out of his Bible. I don’t think that’s the best teaching approach to follow.
There are some very strange things Thomas Jefferson said in his life that kind of look to me to be anti-Trinitarian. At some parts of his life he sounds like an Orthodox Christian; at other parts of his life he’s saying things that look to be anti-Trinitarian. Just because I’m quoting the Declaration of Independence, I’m not endorsing everything Thomas Jefferson ever said, did, or wrote. I’m just saying that I agree with Thomas Jefferson on that point. And that’s what Jude is doing here.
Yes, Jude is quoting a couple of pseudepigraphal books, but he’s not endorsing everything in those pseudepigraphal books. Jude was writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit of God is directing him to those parts of the books that are accurate and keeping him away from those parts of the books that are not.
I just bring this up because a lot of Christians have this mindset that, “Oh, my gosh! We can now go into secular literature; we can rifle through it and pick things that are right and wrong.” Jude is writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is directing him. That’s not happening in anybody’s life today, because the canon of Scripture is closed.
Apparently there is something accurate in one of those books in Jude 9 where it says, “But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’” Apparently, at some point in the past, there was a dispute with Michael regarding Moses’ body. That’s something Satan did in the past. He got into this conversation with Michael concerning the body of Moses. That’s all the statement says, and the book moves on.
The question is, “Why would the devil care about the body of Moses?” I mean, why would that even be an issue? I don’t have an answer to that. I do have a guess. I know I get paid the big bucks, so I need to give you my guess, right? My guess is: Moses is going to need his body again. That’s how I’m understanding one of the two witnesses in Revelation 11:6.
One of them shuts up the heavens so that it cannot rain for three and a half years. Gosh, that looks an awful lot like Elijah to me. And that would fit the prophecies in Malachi concerning Elijah must appear before the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
And another one of those witnesses turns the waters (or the oceans, I think it is) to blood red. Didn’t someone in the Old Testament do that? Isn’t that Moses? There’s an argument to be made that Moses is one of those two witnesses in Revelation 11. Therefore, he’s going to need his body again. So here comes Satan, as he always does against the plan and program of God, challenging what God wants to do with Moses’ body in the end time. Now that’s just a guess. I don’t know that for sure.
Something else Satan did is he tempted David to take a census. 1 Chronicles 21:1 says, “Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel.” Apparently, God wanted David to trust in God for the victory rather than his natural resources. And that’s true with us, right? When we are in battle—when we have challenges—God doesn’t want us to rely on our education, our wealth (what much of it or little of it we might have), whatever natural abilities we have; He wants us to trust in Him. And Satan is moving David away from trusting in God to numbering the troops. So I think that’s why Satan moved David to number the troops.
It’s a very interesting verse, because there’s a lot of people who don’t think Satan can influence the way we think. And they don’t think that Satan can put ideas into the minds of God’s people. I’m of the persuasion that Satan can do that. I don’t think Satan can read our mind, because he is not omniscient. But he clearly can influence how we think. If that wasn’t true, why would we be told to put on the helmet of salvation in Ephesians 6?
Doesn’t the helmet cover the head? Satan’s target is the mind, because Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is…” Right? The 9/11 hijackers didn’t have to get control of the whole airplane. All they had to do is influence the cockpit where the pilots sit, and they control the destiny of the airplane. Satan’s target has always been the mind.
That’s why we’re told in Romans 12:2 to renew the mind. If you won’t give Satan all of your mind, or 50% of your mind, he’ll take 5%, or whatever ground you’re willing to yield to him; because he knows if he can influence your mind in some sense, he can influence you. There are many passages (we’ll be going through them as we continue our study) about how Satan influences the mind.
Chronicles is very interesting because it’s very different than the Samuel books and the Kings books. You’ll read through 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings. Then you read Chronicles and you’re reading the same stuff that you read in those other books. You say, “Why is God repeating Himself?” Well, Chronicles was written much later. Chronicles was written around probably 400 BC during a time period when the nation of Israel was trying to rebuild their temple as they came back from the Babylonian captivity. They were facing many struggles.
Chronicles comes along at that very late time in Israeli (or Jewish) history and gives them a history lesson. But it’s a highly selective history lesson. It leaves out a lot of the bad stuff that happened. For example, David’s adultery with Bathsheba and subsequent murder of Uriah the Hittite. Although it’s clearly taught in the Samuel books, it is not even mentioned in the Chronicles books.
Why is Chronicles doing that? Because it’s trying to be an encouragement. See that? Written later—an encouragement to that post-exilic crowd—using history selectively to encourage them in this great task of rebuilding the temple, etc. So, you’re going to read a lot of things in the Chronicles books that you’ve already read about in the Samuel and Kings books, but there’s an awful lot of bad stuff left out. That’s why Chronicles exists.
And it’s interesting that with the numbering of the troops it’s only Chronicles that mentions that it was Satan that moved David’s heart to number the troops. It doesn’t mention that in the Samuel books. Why is that mentioned in one and not the other? It’s trying to take the blame off David to some extent and put the blame on Satan. Because Chronicles is trying to selectively paint a happier history, taking the focus off the failures of the kings of the past as an encouragement to get the Israelis (or the Hebrews) to rebuild the temple.
That’s something that Satan did in the past. He prompted David—he moved David—to number the troops, getting David to no longer trust in God but trust in natural resources. That’s something that Satan does, I think, with us quite frequently.
Something else Satan did, if you go to Zechariah 3:1-3, is that he accused the high priest Joshua. When most people think of “Joshua,” they think of the Book of Joshua: Joshua, the conqueror of the land. But this is a different Joshua. This is a Joshua that existed much later in Jewish history. This is the post-exilic Joshua; this is the high priest Joshua.
Zechariah 3:1-3 says this, “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.” Now, we know that Satan does this—Revelation 12:10—to us how frequently? Day and night!
“The Lord said to Satan, ‘The Lord rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?’ Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel.”
If you drop down to verse 5 it says, “Then I said, ‘Let them put a clean turban on his head.’ So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments, while the angel of the Lord was standing by.” It’s an amazing paragraph there, because it shows us how Satan accuses us before God’s throne day and night. The only real hope I have in standing up against that kind of prosecuting attorney is that I’ve got to have a really good defense attorney! And Who is my defense attorney? It’s Jesus Christ. That’s why He is called the Advocate—a legal term. 1 John 2:1, He is our Advocate. And He has given us the resources for standing up under this attack of Satan, this perpetual scrutiny of Satan, pointing out all of our failures.
The resources that we have is His transferred righteousness. His righteousness is transferred to me at the point of faith. And that’s something that’s yours as part of your riches in Christ. In Philippians 3:9 Paul says, “…not having a righteousness of my own…” but one that has come to me—or been transferred to me—or imputed to me—on the basis of faith. If I didn’t have that, then how in the world could I stand up against this prosecuting attorney?
If I have to stand there in my own self-righteousness, I don’t have a prayer! And neither do you. But we stand under the transferred righteousness of Christ. And this is a description of that whole exchange in Zechariah 3:1-5. That’s why we’re to put on—Ephesians 6—the breastplate of righteousness.
Putting on the breastplate of righteousness doesn’t mean all of a sudden, I get more righteous than I already am. I already have the transferred righteousness of Christ. Putting on the breastplate of righteousness is basically my mental awareness of this breastplate.
When those negative thoughts hit my mind, “You’re a failure. Look at how you messed this up,” or “Look at how you messed that up.” And Satan reminds us of something we did five years ago or ten years ago, “Look at how you botched this up! You think you’re going to serve God? Look at all of these failures in your life!”
When you put on the breastplate of righteousness, it’s simply a mental reminder that, “Yes, those accusations would make sense if I was standing in self-righteousness. But I’m not standing in self-righteousness; I’m standing in transferred righteousness.” So, Joshua is standing under these accusations of Satan through transferred righteousness. But that’s something Satan did in the past; he accused the high priest Joshua.
What else did Satan do in the past? Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13, he tempted Jesus Christ. Now what is a temptation? A temptation is a solicitation to sin. It’s very important to understand that being tempted to sin is not the same thing as sinning. Jesus—Hebrews 4:15—was tested in all ways, yet without sin. So that proves that just because you’re tempted to do something doesn’t make it actually a sin.
As the saying goes, we all have negative thoughts either coming from Satan or our sin nature. The issue becomes, “What am I going to do with those thoughts?” I think it was one of the Protestant reformers that said, “You can’t stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can certainly prevent them from building a nest in your hair.”
We all have negative thoughts. The issue is, “Am I taking those thoughts and ruminating on them?” Then it becomes, I think, a sinful habit or a sinful pattern. But the mere fact of being tested or tempted in and of itself is not a sin, because Jesus is tested here to the ultimate degree.
Now, it’s interesting when you compare Matthew 4:1-11 with the parallel passage of Luke 4:1-13. Y’all know what I mean by parallel passage, right? Same story; different part of the Bible. Luke will take the second and third temptations (if I remember right) that Matthew gives, and he will reverse the order. So, Matthew’s order of the temptations is different than Luke’s order of the temptations.
You say, “Why is Luke doing that?” Luke is trying to present Jesus not as King (the way Matthew is), but he’s presenting Him as the Son of Man. And he’s basically trying to show that Jesus identifies with us in our temptations. Temptation only comes one of three ways, right? Lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
You’ll see all three of those mentioned in 1 John 2:16. Lust of the flesh: use your body to rebel against God. Lust of the eyes: visual stimulation towards covetousness. And then, of course, the pride of life: you live your life without God—you live your life independent of God. When Eve was originally tempted to sin in Genesis 3:6 you’ll see all three of those: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
Genesis 3:6 says, “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food [that’s lust of the flesh, right?], and that it was a delight to the [what?] eyes [that’s lust of the eyes], and that the tree was desirable to make one wise [that’s the pride of life—living independently of God—you can be wise without God], she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.”
The reason Luke inverts temptation two and temptation three is he’s aligning the three temptations that Christ faced in the Judean wilderness with what Eve faced—lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, the pride of life—to build his case that Jesus is the Son of Man who has come into the world to identify with our plight. In other words, Luke is showing that where our forebears failed in every area, Jesus Christ succeeded. That’s why Luke is following lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life order and Matthew, I think, is giving the correct order. But Luke is changing the order because Luke has a different purpose in writing than Matthew. Does that make any sense?
You look at the first temptation there in Luke 4. Jesus had been fasting all of that time. What was it, 40 days? Luke 4:2, “…for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended [then it states the obvious, right?], He became hungry.” I’m hungry if I miss a single meal—and lots of snacks in between—think about 40 days here. So, He’s at His weakest point physically.
Verse 3 says, “And the devil said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.’” In other words, “Operate on Your own. Use Your miracle working power independently of God the Father.” Satan is trying to drive a wedge there in the Trinity between God the Father and God the Son. Jesus, of course, wanted to live His life—and He successfully did it—in total submission to the will of God the Father, even to the point of death. Satan is trying to disrupt that.
“And Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live on bread alone.” ’ ” It’s interesting. Jesus comes back to each of these temptations—and these are mind altering temptations—with a citation from Scripture. And with each temptation He’s quoting the Book of Deuteronomy. Now, most Christians have never even read the Book of Deuteronomy. Most Christians probably don’t even know that the Book of Deuteronomy is in the Bible, and yet Jesus Himself felt that what was in the Book of Deuteronomy was sufficient enough to ward off the greatest temptations He’d ever faced.
He said, “‘It is written, “Man shall not live on bread alone.”’” There is lust of the flesh. Use your body in a way—in this sense eating—that’s in rebellion against God. Then you look at the second temptation, Luke 4:5-7. “And he led Him up and showed Him…”—see how visual this is? It’s a visual display. Satan is appealing now not to lust of the flesh, but lust of what? Lust of the eyes. This is the second way Eve was tempted and failed. Now Jesus, as the Son of Man, is succeeding where Eve failed.
“And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.” See, there are a lot of people today who say Jesus came into the world and He set up His Kingdom. We’re doing a whole study on Wednesday night on why that’s not true. And here you can see it’s not true, because the kingdoms of the earth still belong to the devil. Jesus never said, “That’s not true, Satan.” Because it was true.
Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve, Satan has become the prince and power of the air, the god of this age. Verse 5, “And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time [visual]. And the devil said to Him, ‘I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me…’” Now, how did the devil ever get control of the kingdoms of the world? Adam surrendered these things to him when he fell.
“‘I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it is been handed over to me, and I can give it to whomever I wish.’” Jesus doesn’t say “Well, that’s not true!” Because it was true. Verse 7, “‘Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours. Jesus answered him, [again with the Scripture from Deuteronomy], ‘It is written, “YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY.”’”
I want us to understand what Jesus was under with temptation number two—lust of the eyes— which He was seeing. Satan was saying to Jesus, “I know why You’ve come into the world—to redeem the world back unto God the Father. And I know that the mechanism (or the avenue) through which this redemption is to occur is through the cross. Here’s my offer of the day! I will offer You a circumvention of the cross. You don’t have to go to the cross. I’ll give You the whole thing right now in exchange for a moment of worship.”
He’s not only coming to Jesus at His weakest point after 40 days of fasting. He’s not just offering Him the kingdoms of the earth (which would be enough of a temptation), but he is offering Him a route around the cross. “You don’t have to go to the cross and die to get the world—to redeem the world—I’ll give it to You right now.” Could you imagine, if any one of us was under that temptation, how fast we would fold?
And yet Jesus Christ did not fold. Unlike Eve—who did fold under a much lighter temptation—Jesus is not just man, but He’s the God-Man. In other words, He has two natures. He’s 100% God and 100% Man. And He, at the point of the virgin conception, added to preexistent deity humanity to identify with us. But He never exchanged His deity. He’s always been deity. And only the God-Man could’ve stood up under that temptation.
This is given by Luke as an explanation as to Who exactly Jesus Christ is. He is the Son of Man—we call it the hypostatic union—100% percent God, 100% Man. Only such a Person could have endured and warded off that particular temptation with the citation from Deuteronomy.
Then the third temptation. He’s taken to the pinnacle of the temple—which was still functioning. It would continue to function all the way up to AD 70. The temple was in existence; it was a beautiful temple that Herod had renovated (John 2:20).
Satan takes Him to the pinnacle of the temple and says, “Throw yourself from the temple and the angels will catch you.” Satan says to Jesus, “You like quoting the Bible? I’ll quote the Bible!” You see, we think that every time someone quotes the Bible it must be God, right? Or someone godly. No, Satan here is quoting the Bible! He’s quoting Psalm 91:11-12.
Luke 4:10-11, “for it is written, “He will command His angels concerning You to guard You,” and, “On their hands they will bear You up, So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.”’” Verse 12, “And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘It is said [another quote from the Book of Deuteronomy], “YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.”’”
Verse 13 says, “When the devil had finished every temptation [he left and never bothered him again? No], he left Him until an opportune time.” “Well, Pastor, can’t you say anything good about Satan?” Yes, I can. He’s a hard worker and he never gives up. He just waits for the next opportunity.
But in this third temptation, He’s basically told to “Throw Yourself from the temple. And if You do that, the angels will catch You. Just think how popular You’re going to be! You want a Messianic following? Do this, and you’ll have a Messianic following just like that.” I think that’s an appeal not to lust of the flesh, not to lust of the eyes, but to the pride of life.
Of course, as we’ve talked about with Adam and Eve, when Satan quotes the Scripture (which he does) he twists it and perverts it. And Psalm 91:11-12 does talk about how God allows His angels to protect us from all kinds of problems. But he’s twisting it to make it sound as if you should intentionally place yourself in harm’s way to test God, to see if He’s going to come through on His promise. So, “Go out there on 90 and lie down on the freeway, because Psalm 91:11-12 says what it says, and God is obligated to protect you.”
You have Christians foolishly getting involved in “snake handling” type things. “Because, after all, Mark 16 says we won’t be hurt by snakes, right? Why don’t I just handle a few poisonous snakes as part of our ritual and church service and test God to see if He’s going to come through?” That is a perversion of what God said. God never tells us to put ourselves intentionally in harm’s way to see if He’ll come through. And Jesus points that out through His response to Satan.
What has happened here to Jesus is He has been pushed to the furthest degree a human being has ever been pushed in the only three ways temptation can come: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. That’s why Jesus is a—Hebrews 4:15-16— sympathetic High Priest. In other words, He stood in our moccasins, so to speak.
So, when we go to Him with our little issues and our little temptations and say, “Lord, I’m really struggling with this,” He’s not some kind of deity that’s removed from our problems; He knows exactly what it’s like to be under temptation. He may not have experienced the identical temptation you’re experiencing, but there’s only three ways temptation can come: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. And He was pushed to the furthest degree a human being has ever been pushed in those three areas.
So, when we go boldly into the throne room of God—Hebrews 4:15-16—we do not have a High Priest Who is unsympathetic. We have One Who has been tested in all ways, yet without sin. This is part of the significance of what Christ was under here in Matthew 4:1-11. And that’s part of the reason why the order of the temptations, as revealed in Matthew 4, is slightly different than the order of the temptations as revealed in Luke.
Luke is trying to present Jesus in a particular way. I think Matthew gives the right chronological order, but Luke will switch the order so that the temptations are in harmony with lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, to show that Jesus succeeded in every way where our forebears failed.
What else did Satan do in the past? Take a look at Luke 22:31-33. He tested Peter. “Simon, Simon…” Now that’s interesting, I thought Peter had a new name! Cephas in Aramaic; Petros in Greek. Now Jesus is calling Simon by his old Hebrew name, “Simon.” Why would he do that? I think it has something to do with the fact that, “Well, Peter, you’re acting like your old self here. You’re going back to your old nature, so I’ll just call you by your old name. Is that okay?”
It’s very interesting to watch the names that are used in the Bible—and the switch in names. “‘Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission…’” Notice that. Satan can’t do anything he wants; God is still sovereign, as was true in the case of Job. “‘Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
Verse 33, “But he said to Him, ‘Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!’” “Oh, Really? You’re about to betray Me three times. In fact, the third time is going to be from a little slave girl that’s probably about half your size; she comes up, probably, about to your waist. Is that in the Bible? No, I’m amplifying a little bit, just to illustrate that he thought he was so powerful—he thought he was so strong—and he’s about to go through a total failure through the threefold denial of Christ. Then he’s about to go out and weep bitterly so he could despair of his own human ability to do the work of God.
Because this guy has got a future. This guy is going to stand up in Acts 2, and 3000 people are going to get saved. In fact, in Acts 1-10 Peter is the main man. And obviously he can’t be that main man (Peter doesn’t know what’s on the horizon—the Lord knows what’s on the horizon) until Peter learns to stop trusting in self to do the work of God and start trusting in the resources of God.
So, Jesus allows Peter to go through this failure. And you’ll notice that Satan was part of it. There’s Satan showing up in heaven, demanding permission to sift Peter like wheat. And Jesus, as the Advocate, says, “But I have prayed for you, Peter.” In other words, this whole thing is going to happen so Peter himself can learn a lesson. So, God in His sovereignty is somehow using Satan even to that end. But you’ll notice that Satan (just like Joshua the high priest) is that prosecuting attorney. It’s just part of the way Satan is and the way he operates.
I’m going to stop here, because if I start talking about possession then I have to answer the question, “Can a Christian be demon possessed?” The answer is, “No.” But that’s too long of a discussion, so we’ll stop here.