Temptations of Power

Are we tempted to partner with the devil in order to get something good done in the world?
Let’s see how taking short cuts by compromising with the devil is not the way to go.
We will examine Luke 4:1-13 and how Jesus’ dealt with three temptations to partner with the devil.
Luke 4:1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’” 5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’” 9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; 11 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” 12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
1. How did the Holy Spirit Help Jesus?
Luke 4:1 says that Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit and that fullness led him into the wilderness. Luke 4:14 tells us that after his fast, Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit. Are fullness and power associated? Then in Luke 4:18 Jesus says that Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled, that the Spirit of the Lord was on him, because He had anointed him to proclaim good news to the poor. Is there a connection between being Spirit-filled, power and the Holy Spirit’s anointing to preach to the poor? Anointing with oil was a ceremony inducting someone into office, like the priesthood of Aaron. The Holy Spirit’s loving presence was vital to Jesus’ ministry.
2. Why did Jesus Refuse to Make Bread?
The Lord helps those who help themselves is an old half-truth. It is similar to the devil’s temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. Rather than wait on God for his provision, which the angels would bring him, the devil wants Jesus to take matters into his own hands and make bread from stones. We are often tempted to do something now, rather than wait on the Lord. God wants us to work diligently and not be lazy, but waiting on God is always better than following the devil’s advice. Satan wants us to be impatient, take a short cut and listen him rather than wait on God and his angels to provide. Let’s pray for discernment to know the difference.
3. Who Do we Worship?
In Luke 4:5-7, the devil claims that authority over the whole world has been given him. Satan would give it to Jesus, if he worshipped the evil one. Many Christians are tempted by power. Some run for political office with sincere intentions. How much good could Jesus do now if he were in charge? Are good Christians tempted to worship the devil to get political power today? God will grant Jesus power over the nations but in His time not the devil’s (Psalm 2:8; Luke 1:32-33). The word devil means slanderer, a slanderer that would give us power to do good things, but with strings attached? Do we too choose to worship God and serve him only?
4. A Leap of Faith or Foolishness?
Do we tempt God? Do we make bad decisions and claim that God told us to? In Luke 4:9-12, the devil took Jesus to the top of the Temple and told him to jump, claiming God would guard him carefully. Throwing doubt into the equation, he says, “If you are the son of God…” How many times do people doubt faith using similar words? “If you are a Christian, do this or that.” Tempters even quote the Bible against us, and twist it to mean something it does not. In their ignorance, they do not understand how wrong their interpretation is. The Bible reveals a huge difference between tempting God with a foolish jump and a leap of faith.
Being impatient and partnering with the devil to get things done, even good things, is not the way to go. We must learn patience, that God’s timing is always best, and if we endure, he will use his angels to feed us, and share his power over the nations.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide
Wilkins, Michael J. Matthew. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004.
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Brian Stoffregen. Exegetical Notes. crossmarks.com/brian/