This sermon is part of our Inescapable series. Inescapable is a 12 part series that studies the Gospel of Matthew and its messages. You can watch all 12 here.
This morning we had a newcomers group meeting, our group leaders meeting for encouragement and training, everyone up here on Thursday night to figure out why our speakers are fading in and out, hopefully it doesn’t happen this morning. All that to say the Lord is moving in our church in north Austin and we are thankful for His provision!
Our series in the Gospel of Matthew is called Inescapable. It’s because the Gospel of Matthew is about the life of Jesus, the glory of Jesus, so that Jesus’ rule and authority is inescapable, unavoidable.
Last Sunday we see Jesus invite us to live in His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, and that invitation sets Jesus apart from any other purpose in life. Think about that with me.
We could give our life to sport and follow great leaders like Lionel Messi. Messi seems to be a great guy. Seems to be a committed husband, invested father, obviously a great soccer player. We could give our life to sport but we have heard athlete after athlete tell us, “Sports can’t be the center of your life.”
We could give our life to music and follow the great musicians like Taylor Swift! T-Swift is amazing at music, maybe a little unlucky in love but how many artists have we heard tell us, “The arts can’t be the center of our life.”
We could give our life to helping others. We have stories like Yvon Chouinard, transferred his ownership in Patagonia to fighting climate change. Narendri Modi, the prime minister of India seems to be doing a bang-up job in India. Ketanji Brown, the first black woman to serve on the supreme court.
These are all people who have and are accomplishing great things in life but only Jesus says, “Come and follow Me.” Only Jesus lives a life that is worthy to follow.
This morning we are going to see that truth yet again in Matthew 4. You can turn to page 26 in your devotional. Let’s look at Matthew 4:1-2:
Matthew 4:1-2, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.”
In Matthew chapters 1 and 2 we see the genealogy of Jesus, birth of Jesus, authority of Jesus. In Matthew 3, last Sunday, we saw John the Baptist preparing the way, so that at the end of chapter 3 we hear a voice cry out from heaven, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased.” Right?
Then, in verse 1, we see the word “then.” In Matthew 3 Jesus is baptized. Powerful moment, voice cries out “My beloved Son” and in Matthew 4, verse 1 “then” so as to prepare the reader for the temptation that is to come.
The contrast is intentional. Spiritual baptism, then spiritual battle. Spiritual comfort, My Son, then spiritual conflict, temptation. Spiritual nourishment, then spiritual hunger. And keep in mind all of this is taking place when “Jesus was led up by the Spirit.”
Listen to me, you need to know this. When you start to follow Jesus, sometimes people will tell you everything in life is going to get easier. Not true!
When you follow Jesus, challenges are going to come in life. There is going to be a “then.” In fact, if you don’t see challenges toward your faith in Jesus, if you see a life of comfort, ease, then be careful, you might not be following Jesus. You with me? Let’s look at verses 3-4:
Matthew 4:3-4, “3 And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”
In verse 3 we see the tempter and in verse 2 we see the devil. I know we are getting close to Halloween, so it’s possible some of us think of the devil as a made-up figure? Maybe we think the devil is mythological? Maybe we think the devil is a good story to scare children?
Listen to me, the devil is real. Resist the temptation to make this interaction with the devil allegorical or metaphorical. We wake up every single day in a spiritual battle and if you don’t think that is true then you are losing the battle.
The devil is a created being as an angel. There are passages like Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28, Revelation 12 that tell us the devil was an angel who existed to serve the glory of God but at one point the devil no longer wanted to serve God but to be God, so please know there is an enemy who exists to kill, steal and destroy the work of God.
The reason you see pain in this world is because of the devil. The reason we see horrible people do, think and say horrible things is because of the devil. I wish I could tell you it’s all because of people like Adolf Hitler, Hamas, and bullies and if we just got rid of those people we wouldn’t have problems.
No, there are demonic forces at work in the world and there are demonic forces around us at all times. The Apostle Peter says the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 John says there are many antichrists at work in this world.
That doesn’t mean we need to be afraid. That doesn’t mean we need to make the devil more than he needs to be but we do need to be aware there are whispers and lies of the evil one in our world, so that in verse 3 we see the tempter come to Jesus, while Jesus is hungry, while Jesus is weak and the devil says, “Are you really the Son of God?” Take note of the devil’s strategy.
Remember, Matthew 3, “This is My beloved Son.” Then, the question is asked, “Are you really the Son of God?” Are you really?
Listen to me, we don’t know what this temptation for Jesus looked like physically. Did the devil show up in a vision? Did Jesus hear voices?
It probably wasn’t a guy in a red suit with a pointy tail, so that one of the most common ways the devil will bring temptation is through our thoughts and specifically thoughts around doubting the goodness of God so that the devil asks, “Are you really the Son of God?” Look at verses 5-6:
Matthew 4:5-6, “5 Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command His angels concerning You’; and ‘On their hands they will bear You up, so that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’”
In verse 5 the devil responds. You need to know the attacks of the enemy are relentless.
You may resist his temptation of addiction and the devil will come at you with pride. You may resist the temptation of gossip and the devil will come at you with comparison. You may resist the temptation of greed and the devil will come at you with laziness. The devil is relentless. The devil has no shame!
In verse 5 the devil is referencing Psalm 91. The devil is using God’s Word to bring temptation. No shame! Psalm 91 says the Father will protect you. He will guard you in all ways. He will hold you up so that your feet don’t hit a stone, therefore, Jesus, throw yourself down. His angels will protect you! No shame!
How many times have we seen the Lord working in our life and had the thought, “Was that really the Lord?” How many times have set out to pray, read God’s Word, lift our hands in worship, give encouragement to a friend and thoughts enter into our head, “Do you really want to do that?”
Jesus spoke of the devil in John 8 and said the devil is a murderer. The devil is the father of lies and there is no truth in him, so please know we don’t need to be afraid of the devil but we do need to be aware we have an enemy who comes to stir up doubt toward the goodness of God.
This is what the serpent speaks to Adam and Eve in the garden. In Genesis 3, verse 1, the devil slithers up to Eve and says, “Did God really say you can’t eat from any tree of the garden?”
Then in verse 4 the serpent says, “You surely won’t die! God knows the day you eat from the tree you will become wise, you will be like God, He’s trying to hold out on you. You can’t trust Him!”
The devil isn’t doing anything extraordinary. The devil is just whispering lies and doubts toward God’s character and God’s Word and the devil still does it today.
One of the most common ways the devil will come is through our thoughts like, “You can’t trust God, you can’t trust the bible, you can’t trust people, in fact, you better push people away, you better do this on your own, you better do what you think is right.”
Do those thoughts sound familiar. Those thoughts are tired old plays the devil runs on God’s creation over and over and over. Don’t fall for it! Look at verse 7:
Matthew 4:7, “7 Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
First, did you see both Jesus has God’s Word hidden in His heart, “it is written.” Second, if you want to defend against the schemes of the evil one, then learn God’s Word. Read God’s Word. Study God’s Word. Obey God’s Word. Memorize God’s Word.
I didn’t grow up learning God’s Word. I started reading God’s Word when I was 18 years old and it was like finding secret powers on all of life.
Genesis 1 and 2, humanity is created to be perfect. Genesis 3, all of life becomes confusing through sin but Genesis 3 ends with God’s plan to raise up a Redeemer.
He begins with Israel through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, not because Israel is the hero but Israel is the means by which the Savior will come.
Israel is taken into captivity in Egypt, rescued through Moses, reigns through David and even though David was a great king he wasn’t the promised Savior.
Israel falls apart. Prophets like Jeremiah and Joel come to call Israel back but they can’t do it because Israel was never supposed to be the focus. Israel was always the means by which the Savior would come to bless the nations!
The focus was always the Messiah that was to come, therefore, John the Baptist sees Jesus walking in the distance and says, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” All the promises, all the sacrifices, all the kings all foreshadowing the promise of Jesus to come.
Jesus lives a perfect life, Jesus takes our sin at the cross, conquers our sin in the resurrection and invites all who trust in Him to enter into His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
And in Acts 1 Jesus is ascending to the Father and the disciples ask, “Is now the time you’re restoring the kingdom of Israel?” Jesus says, “Wait for the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit will come with power, so that you will be My witnesses all over Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria to the ends of the earth.” We’re the ends of the earth! They started in Jerusalem!
That’s what happened! The apostles start the process of building up His kingdom on earth by starting churches in Austin, gatherings of people who will live together in His kingdom and invite others to live in His kingdom and one day John has a vision that One day Jesus will return. Praise God!
All things made new! Until the day Jesus returns we enjoy His kingdom, we invite others into His kingdom with our eyes fixed on that glorious day that the heavens will part and the trumpet will sound. That’s God’s Word. You want to know God’s Word.
The enemy will come with whispers and lies and doubts but our souls aren’t up for grabs because we’re already in His kingdom.
Thoughts will pop in our head about anxiety around our career or our country and we brush them off. We’re in His Kingdom! Thoughts will pop in our head about avoiding people but we cast them out because we’re in His Kingdom. Thoughts will come about failure and pain in our past but through the power of the Holy Spirit we say, “No!”
We belong to Jesus! One day Jesus will return. One day all of creation will see what we see and until that day we enjoy His kingdom and we invite others to live in His kingdom. Look at verses 8-9:
Matthew 4:8-9, “8 Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; 9 and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.”
It’s almost comical at this point. If the devil wasn’t the father of lies we could laugh more at those verses but in verses 8 and 9 we Jesus brought to this high mountain.
We don’t really know what this looked like practically.
Was it physical? Was this a vision? We don’t know but you need to know what the devil is offering to Jesus something that already belongs to Jesus. Does that make sense?
The temptation isn’t the kingdoms of this world, because all things of this world already belong to Jesus, therefore, the temptation in verses 8-9 is to avoid the cross. Does that make sense?
The temptation in verses 8 and 9 is to have all the worship, all the exaltation, but avoid the death and darkness of the cross.
Keep in mind, Jesus knew the piercing death of the cross was coming. Jesus knows the book of Isaiah. Jesus knows the book of Zachariah. Jesus knows He would be pierced, despised, and rejected. Jesus knows pain and suffering was coming, so that the temptation in verses 8 and 9 is to avoid the pain and suffering just receive the glory. You with me?
This will be harder for younger people but imagine if you could have all the wisdom you have learned through suffering but avoid the suffering? That’s the temptation.
Imagine if you could have all the strength you have gained in life but without the pain, therefore, the temptation is a temptation that is very familiar with us today, “Why wait?” Why go through the struggle?
Still today the enemy will whisper into our ears, “Don’t you want to be easy?” Building a life of character is going to take so much time, wouldn’t you rather just take this short cut?
Building relationships with the body of Christ is going to be so messy, wouldn’t you rather just stay home and watch Netflix?
Resolving conflict is going to be hard. Just cut them out of your life. Creating a financial budget is going to be so hard. Just keep spending money. Dabbling in a little sexual immorality never hurt anyone. You do you! How does Jesus respond? Look at verses 10-11:
Matthew 4:10-11, “10 Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’” 11 Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.”
Jesus response, “Satan, be gone!” The Apostle Peter calls we who are in Christ, “Resist the devil!” Proverbs in the Old Testament teaches us to flee temptation.
2 Corinthians 10 teaches us, “Take those thoughts of lies and deception captive, through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Clinch hand and throw)
The devil will cast his fiery arrows into our thoughts and in those moments we cry out for help, “Jesus help me to trust you, help me to believe you, help me to cling to your Word, help me to gather people around me.”
Listen to me church family, the purpose of our passage this morning is not so that we can overcome temptation. Please don’t hear that this morning.
The purpose of our passage isn’t so that we can resist the devil. This is so important. The purpose of our passage is so we turn to the One who has already defeated His temptation.
Matthew is writing so as to say, “Look to Jesus!” Look at His genealogy. Look at His birth. Look at John the Baptist coming to the prepare the way. Look at the voice cry out from heaven “This is My beloved Son.” Look at the promises fulfilled in Jesus.
Back in verse 2 we see the words “Jesus was fasting 40 days and 40 nights.” This is language to throw the reader back to Israel’s history. I know Israel is in the news, so we’re not talking about the Nation State of Israel but the people of Israel in the Old Testament.
The use of the words “40 days and 40 nights” back in verse 2 is to remind the listener of Israel when Israel was in the wilderness for 40 years. Do you know why?
Israel wanted to go back to Egypt. Israel was tired. Israel was hungry. Israel was complaining because they were missing the comforts of enslavement in Egypt, so that Israel wanders the wilderness for 40 years, but when Jesus is tired, Jesus is hungry we see Jesus entrusts Himself to the Father.
Jesus is asking, “What’s the will of the Father? What is the Word of the Father? What is the lie of the devil?” Because if Jesus is faithful to the Father He will be faithful to you.
If Jesus is obedient to the Father to the point of death on a cross, He will be faithful to you. Matthew is writing so as to say, “Look to Jesus!”
The purpose of our passage isn’t to give us tips and tricks to overcome temptations in our life, but the purpose of our passage is to point us to the One who has already overcome temptation.
The invitation isn’t to become such a godly man or woman that you can defeat the devil. The invitation is to trust in the One who already has defeated the devil. Won’t you do that this morning?
North Village Church
This sermon is brought to you by North Village Church, a non-denominational church in Austin. established in 2009 and built around Jesus and Bible teaching.
Are you looking for a church in Austin? At North Village Church we put Jesus at the center of our church family. We worship together every Sunday at 10:30am, encourage Christ centered fellowship through groups, and host special events such as Bible studies and Theological Training, to ensure that we are rooted in in God’s Word. We also serve our local community in association with several Austin based organizations.
North Village Church is made up of professionals, married couples, singles, and families who are wanting to experience the life-transforming power of Jesus. If you are a family with children or teens, we can support you with either or both our Kids Ministry and Youth Ministry.
You are welcome to contact us if you would like more information.
Unable to attend this Christian Church in Austin? Don’t worry, because, through God’s provision, we have created NVC online, an Online Church streaming a worship service every Sunday from 10:30am Central Time. You can also watch our short, powerful sermons on demand and follow us on Instagram for daily Christ centered content.