Jesus is the only person who lived a sinless life on earth despite dealing with all the same temptations as us. Jesus resisted temptation, and perfectly.
Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry. (Luke 4:1-2)
Can you imagine being tempted directly at the hands of Satan? I mean, we are not talking about second string or minor leagues here. This is the GOAT when it comes to temptation.
Now think about if we had to endure that temptation for 40 days. Without food. At the brink of exhaustion. This is the situation where Jesus Christ found Himself. And this is where we can observe how Jesus resisted temptation.
Jesus Resisted Temptation 3 Times
Across the length of this account (Luke 4:1-13), we are given three specific temptations that Satan offered. All three are turned back by Jesus Christ through quoting scripture, specifically from the last book of the Torah, Deuteronomy.
With his first temptation, Satan attacks Jesus Christ in His most pressing physical need, tempting Him to turn a stone into bread.
Christ’s reply was from Deuteronomy 3, saying that people do not live by bread alone.
This specific reference is not only general, but specific; it comes from a passage where God provided for the Jewish people wandering the wilderness for 40 years after their deliverance from Egypt. Jesus quoted enough of the verse to provide the intended impact, but for our sake of understanding, here is the full verse: “Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 8:3).
So not only did the verse directly answer Satan’s temptation, but Jesus resisted temptation by aligning context. This displayed both a knowledge of scripture and contextual application.
The next two areas in which Jesus resisted temptation directly involved potential shortcuts to dying on the cross.
In the second temptation, Satan offers to give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if Christ would only worship him.
This time Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy 6 and puts the matter to rest. He doesn’t argue the question of Satan’s authority to make such an offer, simply saying that we are to worship only God (Deuteronomy 6:13).
Finally, in the third temptation recorded, Satan transports Jesus to the highest point in the temple, tempting Jesus to prove He is God by jumping off and allowing angels to rescue Him. Satan even quotes a passage from Psalm 91, possibly as an attempt to make the temptation seem legitimate.
And finally, one last counter from Deuteronomy: “You must not test the Lord your God…” (Deuteronomy 6:16).
Now, think about this: when Jesus resisted temptation, He did not rely on His own authority; He relied on the Bible.
So of all the means at Jesus Christ’s disposal to resist temptation, why focus on God’s Word specifically?
Jesus was Prepared to Resist Temptation
Ephesians 6 contains a famous passage about putting on the Armor of God. Many accoutrements are named, but only one is an offensive weapon – the sword of the Spirit, which is “the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Everything else mentioned is for protection.
The implication is we will need knowledge and understanding of God’s word if we are going to be true disciples that take a counteroffensive to temptation.
Jesus had hidden God’s word in His heart to the point that, after 40 days of no food and isolation from others, Jesus still resisted temptation by bringing to mind specific verses to counterattack the enemy’s schemes.
Some days we may feel fortunate to remember which key starts the car and which unlocks the door.
The only way we can hope to have the Bible grafted onto our hearts is to spend every day reading God’s word. Take on the discipline of memorizing scriptures. Study it, memorize it, understand it. Among other things, it will allow you to resist temptation, no matter the source.
Temptation is not Sin
One final word on temptation: in moments of weakness we may allow ourselves to feel defeated because we are being tempted in something. It is so important to understand that temptation is not sin.
As we saw, Jesus Himself was tempted, and never sinned. We have not sinned until we give in to temptation.
We can follow the example of how Jesus resisted temptation, by knowing God’s word. When we are successful, we need to remember to give the honor to Jesus Christ for the power to resist.
When we start to believe we have the upper hand, pride sets in. Then we will begin to rely only on our own strength, leading to disastrous results.
It is comforting to know that even for those times we do fail at resisting temptation and commit sin, we can confess our sins and we will be forgiven and restored (1 John 1:9).
Below are some more Bible verses about resisting temptation:
Joshua 1:8; Psalm 119:105; Isaiah 40:8; Colossians 3:16; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 5:8-9