Here comes temptation number 2. Satan is an unrelenting adversary. He continues to pursue his prey. Once again there is a "then." The devil doesn’t give up easily but stalks with a perseverance that is so much greater than our own perseverance for righteousness. He seems to weary not. We seem to weary so easily. Lord – please grant us Your strength forwe have none of our own.
Again, the "then." As I look at this second "then" I’m reminded of the former “then” found in verse 1. That “then” referred back to the devil’s tempting of Christ after His baptism. Satan made the most of every opportunity. When Christ was hungry he tempted Him with food. Now, after Christ has boldly proclaimed His confidence in His Father's Word and willingness to wait upon His Father's way, Satan tosses out another “then”.
Henry says, “In general, finding Christ so confident of His Father’s care of him, in point of nourishment, Satan endeavors to draw Him to presume upon that care in point of safety. Nor are any extremes more dangerous than those of despair and presumption, especially in the affairs of our souls. Some who have obtained a persuasion that Christ is able and willing to save them from their sins, are then tempted to presume that He will save them in their sins.” Lord - let us not presume.
Let me walk you through the other sections of this verse.
First, “…the devil took Him ….” Again, thinking back to verse 1, I am reminded that while the devil took Him that it was still the Spirit that led Him. God is the great first cause and He is causing all things (even the temptations of the evil one) to work together for the good of those who love Him and are the called according to His purpose. (Rom 8:28)
Secondly, the devil took Him “…into the holy city…” Henry reminds us that “there is no city on earth so holy as to exempt and secure us from the Devil and his temptations. The holy city is the place where he does, with the greatest advantage and success, tempt men to pride and presumption; but (blessed be God) into the Jerusalem above, that holy city, no unclean thing shall enter; there we shall be for ever out of temptation.” The only safe holy place is in the cleft of the Rock. Lord- please help me to flee to the Holy one that I might find safety in the battle that rages around me.
Thirdly, the devil “…had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple…” “How subtle Satan was, in the choice of the place for his temptations. Here, he fixes Christ on a public place in Jerusalem, a populous city, and the joy of the whole earth. He fixes Him upon the temple, one of the wonders of the world, continually gazed upon with admiration by some one or other. There He might make Himself remarkable, and prove Himself the Son of God; not, in the obscurities of the wilderness, but before the multitudes.” (Matthew Henry). Lord - please guard us from pride which goeth before a fall.
Fourthly, the devil “… said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God…” Once again, the questioning of the Word is sounded. Is this lie of the devil not at the heart of every temptation? Satan continually seeks to plant the seeds of doubt as to the trustworthiness of the Word. How persistent he is in this regard. Lord - stop our ears to his lying whispers and build up our confidence in Your written truth.
Fifthly, the devil says “…thrown Yourself down…” Mr. Henry powerfully points out that “the devil could NOT cast Him down. The power of Satan is a limited power; hitherto he shall come and no further.” The devil can only persuade, he cannot compel; he can but say, 'Cast thyself down;' he cannot cast us down. Therefore, let us not hurt ourselves, and then, blessed be God, no one else can hurt us.” Lord – please protect me from me! Self is a great enemy.
Sixthly, Satan says “…for it is written, ‘He will give His angels charge concerning You’; and ‘On their hands they will bear You up, lest You strike Your foot against a stone.’” The enemy of all righteouness takes and twists the righteous Word of God.
Matthew Henry holds forth a sobering truth. He says, “Satan backed this motion with a scripture; 'For it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning Thee.' But is Saul also among the prophets? Is Satan so well versed in Scirpture, as to be able to quote it so readily? It seems, he is. Note, It is possible for a man to have his head full of scripture-notions, and his mouth full of scripture-expressions, while his heart is full of reigning enmity to God and all goodness.”
We need to examine ourselves. Do we know and use the Word of God? If so, to what purpose. Do we use it to twist and try to get our way as did the devil or do we use it because we love it and we long to live our lives in accordance with it? If the former we need to repent and flee to Christ. If the latter we need to not grow weary in well-doing.
Satan tempts. Christ responds and Christ corrects. "Jesus said to him, 'On the other hand…'” - Jesus is about to straighten that which Satan has twisted. “On the contrary Satan – You are wrong!” "On the other hand" needs to become our mantra and our first response to Satan's whispers. In Christ's strength we need to call the father of lies by his name and we need to portray his actions by their true colors.
The best way to do that is to hold his counterfeit use of the Word of God up to the proper use of the Word of God. Jesus says “…it is written, ‘You shall not put the LORD your God to the test.” Notice that “the devil’s abusing of Scripture did not prevent Christ from using it.” Christ rightly applies the Word of God in order to extinguish the fiery darts of the wicked one. We need to use our sword. We need to not fear using it because the enemy has misued it. When he whispers a twisting of the Word go and pick up the Word. Don't allow him to take the Truth out of its context and condemn you with crooked lies. "All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be fully equipped for every good work" (2 Tim 3:16). Don't take the devil at his word about the Word - go to the Word and see what it says. Let the Spirit of Christ, through the Word of Christ teach you, reprove you, correct you, train you, and fully equip you. "It is written" is the one certain thing that will expose Satan's lies and make him flee.
Lord –Lead us by your Spirit into humility and far, far from the pinacle of pride. Let us trust your word and doubt the devil's and even our own. Let us lean on Your everlasting arms as our certain support. Enable us to use our sword and let us not fear using it due to the enemy’s twisted abuses of it. This one who whispers so cunningly in our ears is the enemy who so desperately does NOT want us to unsheathe it. In our being tested may we not test you but submit to Your wise and Fatherly disposals. Grant us mercy and grace in the battle and thank you for Christ who has won the victory for us.
Trusting my God with the testing,