The Devil's Most Effective Temptation
Have you ever wondered why Satan tempted Jesus to make the stones into bread? Read Matthew 4:1-11. Satan knew Jesus was hungry. Our Lord hadn’t eaten for 40 days (V.2). Therefore, it’s easy to see that the Devil was striking at Jesus’s apparent weakness. However, this is not the entire explanation for why Satan attacks using this temptation.
Some have speculated that Satan was actually trying to get Jesus to use His divine power for His own personal benefit. In His incarnation, Jesus set aside His divine rights (Philippians 2:6). He humbled Himself in becoming exactly like us, yet without sin. However, this still doesn’t fully get to the to the core reasoning behind Satan’s attack. It wouldn’t have been sinful for Jesus to make the stones into bread. Eating isn’t sinful. Bread isn’t sinful. So, what was Satan up to?
The Devil was using a tactic that he has levied against humanity since the dawn of creation—distraction! Satan will expose our weaknesses to distract our attention away from God. Jesus was fasting, which means He was spending alone time with God. The Tempter, however, wanted to break Jesus’s focus from His Heavenly Father to food.
Here’s why Satan’s Temptation is so crafty and very often effective.
He distracts us with good things. Satan will divert your attention away from God by distracting you with things that are not inherently sinful. Bread isn’t sinful. Bread is good. God gave us bread as a gift of his love. It tastes good. It’s filling. It’s nutritious. No one would say bread is bad. And that’s exactly why Satan used it.
When we’re distracted with “good” things we don’t realize that we are being tricked by Satan. We’ve condition our minds to believe that Satan only wants to entice us to commit horrible sins such as murder, adultery, lying, cheating, stealing etc. No doubt, he does influence all of those things. But, let’s not forget Satan’s main goal. He desires to see you perish apart from Christ. That’s why he keeps unbelievers blinded (2nd Corinthians 4:4). If you are a believer, he wants to keep your attention off of Christ so you will produce no fruit for His kingdom. Satan hates God and will do everything he can to hinder the work of God, and one of the ways he does this is by distraction.
Think about it! How many Christians have no time for church because of youth sports? Are sports sinful? No. Sports can be good. However, Satan will use sports as a distraction. He’ll say something like this, “It’s okay if you miss church or if your kids miss youth group. They’re young. This is the only time in their lives they can play this game. Plus, they love it. You love it. Sports are fun.” Before you know it, your families’ attention is taken away from God.
And it’s not just sports. It’s anything he can use to take your focus off of Christ. Again, it doesn’t have to be inherently sinful. It just has to be both distracting and a detracting from God’s commands in order to be effective.
So, what distracts you from Jesus? Food? Politics? Money? Materialism? Work? They’re all good things if used properly, but they can also become “good” distractions. We must examine ourselves to understand where we might be tempted to distraction. Even serving or ministry can ultimately draw us away from a focus on Christ, as we see with Martha in Luke:
“And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving.” – Luke 10:39-40a (ESV)
We all have weaknesses, and Satan will use them to divert us away from our Lord. This is why we’re told to “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.” (1 Peter 5:8-9).
Brandon is the Associate Pastor of The Journey Church in Lebanon, TN and leads the Recovery & Redemption ministry for the church. Brandon is married to Sherrie and has a daugher, Emma.
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