Fighting sin the Jesus way

Re-read: Matthew 4:1-11

But he answered, “It is written...” Matthew 4:4

Jesus fights temptation with scripture. Three times the devil tempts Jesus, and three times Jesus says, “It is written.” He is quoting the Bible. Using God’s own words is the most powerful weapon we have. The devil can’t argue with God Himself. By using scripture, you can be certain the thought or words you use to defend yourself are true and right!
You don’t have to get it word-perfect, though. Bible verses are not a magic spell. In verse 10, the words “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve” aren’t a direct quote from anything in the Old Testament. There are, however, many verses that say similar things. Jesus is showing that the most important thing is not that you know exactly which words are printed in what order, but that you understand God’s law. You won’t have a Bible at hand in every temptation and it’s easy to forget what you have memorized under pressure. You can still know what God intends. Besides memorizing Bible verses, we learn the Law of God by reading scripture, listening to preaching and teaching, and being part of a church community.
The verses Jesus chooses work in two directions. Some of them say what NOT to do, some say what He OUGHT to do, and some say both. It’s important to say, “No, I won’t do that” when faced with temptation. Jesus does that for the first two temptations: “Man shall NOT live by bread alone” and “You shall NOT put the Lord your God to the test.” He also says what He will do instead: man SHALL live “by every word that comes from the mouth of God” and “You SHALL worship the Lord your God.” Sometimes you need to face temptation and just say no; but it is also good, when you have the opportunity, to do something good instead. For example, instead of simply refusing to gossip, you can change the subject or say something kind.

Questions for discussion and reflection

  • Think of the kinds of temptations you face most often. Is there a Bible verse you can memorize to help?
  • What is one action you can say “YES” to, to replace the temptation you are saying “NO” to? One way to resist temptation is to do something positive instead. How could you do this in your own life? (For example, if you are tempted to skip church, you could volunteer to carpool with a friend, so it would be harder to skip and you would be helping someone else.)

Dear Jesus, help me to love Your Word so much that I can’t help knowing it better. Bring your laws to my mind when I need them so that I can fight temptation like you did. Amen.