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Matthew 4:5-7

Tempting God

5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.


Jerusalem was called the "holy city", because it was here that the shekinah glory of God dwelt in the days before the captivity. It is not the place that we would expect the devil to be hanging out, but the glory of God had gone out of this place. Evil lurked in every corner of the city. The devil was free to roam where he pleased, indeed, to this day he has the nerve to enter places of worship to tempt God's people.

Jesus was his target on that particular day. And there is a tendency for us to question the story at this juncture, because we know that Satan had no power over Jesus. How, then, could he have taken Him and set Him on the pinnacle, or wing, of the temple?

Jesus surely allowed Himself to be manipulated so that He could ultimately defeat the devil with the word of God. He had told Satan that the word of God is the provider of all of our needs. He would now demonstrate the power of that word. One hundred and twenty feet in the air, the two of them stood looking down at the ground below.

Again, the devil shows no doubt that Jesus is the Son of God. His words are better translated as saying, "If thou be the Son of God (and I believe you are), cast thyself down."

Why would anyone want to do that? Well, by quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3, Jesus had just finished telling the devil that God's word would take care of Him, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

Now, Satan answers with his own quote from scripture, "Fine! Since God is your provider, cast yourself down and show the whole world who You are. Psalm 91:11 says His angels will take care of you. Go ahead. Jump!"

We must always be aware of two things when dealing with temptation. First, that Satan cannot sin for us. He had no power to throw Jesus from the pinnacle, only to tempt Him to harm Himself. He is also helpless to harm us. Our sins are committed by our own free wills.

Secondly, Satan is well versed in the scriptures and he often uses others who know their scriptures to do his dirty work. Knowledge of scripture does not make a man trustworthy. It is understanding and proper application of scripture that distinguishes godly people. These things can only come from the Holy Spirit and reflect a relationship with God. We must always beware of those who misuse or misinterpret the Bible.

Jesus once again used the word of God to rebuke the devil. We should not tempt the Lord. That is to say we should not test Him unnecessarily. We must be humble people of faith and never use the gifts and promises of God in a presumptuous manner.

I have always thought that it is wrong for pastors to lead their congregations into debt in order to buy a building. It is wrong to tell the people to step out in faith and trust that God will provide the money to pay the debt. This is very similar to what the devil has done in our verses. It is tempting God, placing His congregation in bondage to the bank (Proverbs 22:7)), and is a dangerous practice.

Can you think of times when you deliberately and unnecessarily tested God's promises? Perhaps you acted rashly or took unnecessary risks, expecting God to rescue you. You can fight this sort of temptation by spending more time studying God's word, seeking a better understanding, and using the word to defeat the devil's tricks

Before The Throne:

Confess your tendencies to tempt God and beg His forgiveness. Ask for the ability to identify and avoid this type of temptation. Pray for those around you who have been deceived into tempting Him. Ask the Lord to help you lead your church away from tempting Him by going into debt.

For Further Study:

(v.5)
** taketh. Luke 4:9; John 19:11;** the holy. Matt 27:53; Neh 11:1; Isa 48:2; Isa 52:1; Dan 9:16; Rev 11:2; ** on. 2Ch 3:4;

(v.6) ** for. 2Cor 11:14; ** He shall. Ps 91:11-12; Luke 4:9-12; Heb 1:14; ** test. Job 1:10; Job 5:23; Ps 34:7, 20;

(v.7) ** It. Matt 21:16, 42; Matt 22:31-32; Isa 8:20; ** Thou. Exod 17:2, 7; Num 14:22; Deut 6:16; Ps 78:18, 41, 56; Ps 95:9; Ps 106:14; Mal 3:15; Acts 5:9; 1Cor 10:9; Heb 3:9;

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