St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

Learn From Jesus How To Defeat Satan

Sermon on Luke 4:1-13

Text: Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, 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 does 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, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 So 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 says: ‘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.

A favorite subject in school was history. I especially enjoyed learning American history and have been known to still watch the History Channel to learn even more. As you watch and learn, you see how various battles were won or lost, depending on the strategy of the combatants. You see how they deployed their troops, utilized their supplies and the terrain in which they were fighting, when they charged and when they flanked. In this way you can see how they defeated their enemy. This morning, we have another battle before us. At stake is more than the loss of a battle, or even a war. The salvation of mankind was at risk in this battle. However, Jesus defeated the devil here, in this battle. Later on, on the cross, Jesus defeated Satan once and for all. This morning, let us LEARN FROM JESUS HOW TO DEFEAT SATAN 1. By Recognizing The Tricks Satan Uses and 2. By Using The Weapon God Has Given.

Just prior to our text, Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River. After this, he “was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.” Jesus did not expose himself to the devil’s attacks recklessly. He went into the desert to be tempted at God’s direction. It was God’s will that this take place. For forty days, Jesus was exposed to the temptations that Satan threw at him. We have but three of them recorded for us. As we study them, we will look, first of all, at all of the temptations and then, we will look at Jesus’ reaction to them.

It says in verse 2, “He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.” Jesus fasted so that he could focus on his prayers. Naturally, because Jesus was a human being, at the end of those forty days, he was hungry. Satan was quick to notice this and chose this area to be the first under attack. As Martin Luther wrote, “Satan will climb the fence wherever it is the lowest.” He searches until he finds a possible weak spot in the armor and attacks there.

Because Jesus was hungry, Satan came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” At first, this might seem to be an innocent enough suggestion. However, we see Satan trying to use the same trick on Jesus as he had on Eve in the Garden of Eden. He was trying to create doubt. To Eve he said, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Satan tried to get Jesus to doubt his identity. We also note that Satan also tries to get us to doubt God’s goodness to us. If he can get us to doubt God’s goodness or love, he has a foothold in his attack.

Satan followed up with a challenge. “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” ‘If you are the Son of God, prove it. Simply change this stone into bread.’ What would have been wrong with Jesus doing this? After all, he was hungry and he did have the power to do it. However, to do so would have shown that Jesus did not trust in his Father to provide for all that he needed. Jesus would have been using his heavenly power for his own selfish purpose to satisfy earthly needs. He would also have been bypassing some of the suffering for which he had come into the world. Satan tried to trick Jesus by raising doubt.

Satan also tries to get us to sin by raising doubt in our minds. ‘How can you say that God loves you, if you have to go through this?’ ‘How can there be a loving God when there is so much pain and suffering in the world?’ Once we have started to doubt God’s love for us, Satan begins to work on us to fall into even greater sins.

Satan’s next temptation took Jesus to the top of a high mountain. In an instant he saw all of the kingdoms of the world, with all of their wealth and power. Satan said to Jesus, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.” This was tempting to Jesus. After all, as the Son of God, he knew what all lay ahead of him, including his suffering and death. Satan was offering a way out. If he wanted to rule the world, he could bypass the suffering that lay ahead of him. All he had to do was one little act of worship, and it would all be his. He would be the world leader, controlling the nations.

Here we see another of Satan’s tricks. You see, there was one little problem with Satan’s offer of the authority and splendor of the nations. It wasn’t his to give. Although he said, “it has been given to me,” we read in Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” Satan told Jesus an outright lie. This shouldn’t surprise us. After all, Jesus refers to the devil as “the father of lies.” He lied to Eve in the Garden of Eden. Eve repeated God’s warning that if they were to eat from the forbidden fruit, they would die. Satan said, “You will not surely die.” Eve and Adam found out who was telling the truth after they ate from the tree.

Satan lies to us, as well. He tells us, ‘No one is looking, so go ahead.’ ‘If it doesn’t hurt anyone else, it’s OK.’ He makes people comfortable in their sins, by telling them that their sins aren’t as bad as other people’s are. He lies and tells people that they can earn their way into heaven. He lies and convinces people that there is no God, to whom they are accountable for their actions. ‘Even if there is a God,’ Satan whispers, ‘he surely wouldn’t send anyone to hell.’ Satan continues to lie to us, hoping to catch us off guard. Be on the lookout for Satan’s lies.

In our third recorded temptation, Satan places Jesus on the highest point of the temple and told him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here.” He even goes on to quote Psalm 91 as proof to back up this temptation. “For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Surely, this must be OK, because the Bible says so. ‘Prove that you trust God by throwing yourself down from here.’ Although Satan quotes from the Bible, he will twist it and turn it to his own purposes. He will omit key phrases that would prove him wrong or take things out of context, so that it all sounds good.

Satan does the same thing today. Many people who claim to believe what the Bible says have been deceived by Satan’s clever twisting of the truth. People make the Bible say whatever they want it to say, at the devil’s urging. To excuse the change, they will say that the Bible really doesn’t mean what it seems to say here. If there is a portion of Scripture that bothers them, they just omit it. Some will even use the Bible as an excuse to sin, such as it is OK to kill a doctor, because he performs abortions. Yes, abortion is a sin, but so is killing that doctor. Satan also comes to us with the temptation to twist the Scriptures. He doesn’t do so bluntly. Rather, he masquerades himself as a Bible-believing Christian, hoping to lead us from the true light of God’s Word to the darkness of damnation. Satan does know what the Bible says and will even quote from it, if it serves his purposes.

When Satan comes with all of his tricks, we must admit that we have fallen for them. We have been tricked by Satan. The penalty for falling for Satan’s tricks is eternal punishment. In spite of what Satan tells us, “The wages of sin is death.” We have fallen into Satan’s traps. However, praise be to God, Jesus did not. He stood firm. He lived a perfect life. Then, he died an innocent death to pay for all of our sins. When we were weak, he was strong. We praise God that Jesus defeated Satan, because eternal life is ours through him. Now, out of thankfulness, we want to live for God. Because we cannot stand up to Satan on our own, let us learn from Jesus as he defeated the devil and follow his example. This is what we note about these skirmishes. Every time that Jesus was tempted, he countered by using the Word of God.

After the devil tempted Jesus to turn the stones into bread, Jesus responded by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, “Man does not live on bread alone.” Satan had tempted Jesus to doubt God’s love and care for himself. Jesus responded by saying that the most important thing is not food or physical life. Jesus would later tell his disciples in Matthew 6:31&32, “Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ . . . your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” May we also respond in this way when the devil tries to get us to doubt God’s love for us. Respond with the clear words of Scripture that tell us that God is always with us and will always care for us.

When Satan tried to get Jesus to fall down and worship him in exchange for all the splendor and authority of the nations, Jesus responded by quoting Deuteronomy 6:13, “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.” Jesus saw through the devil’s temptation. Although it might have meant that he would be able to bypass the suffering that lay ahead, Jesus knew that it would be idolatry. Not only would he be worshiping the devil, he would also be showing that the things of this world are more important that his relationship with his Father.

Satan comes to us with similar temptations. Although he might not blatantly ask us to worship him, he places the pleasures of this world in front of us. He tells us, ‘Why go to church? Why not do something fun instead?’ ‘Why give your money to church? You worked hard for it. You should enjoy it.’ Yet, if we listen to him, instead of living our lives in thankful response to all that God has done for us, we will be saying that the things of this world are more important to us than our relationship with God. They end up being our #1 priority. May we respond as Jesus did, “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.”

After Satan tried to twist God’s Word so that Jesus would sin, Jesus pointed out in a very clear passage from Scriptures that what Satan was asking him to do was sinful. Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:16, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” If Jesus had listened to the devil’s temptation, he would be taking a gracious promise from God and using it to challenge God by doing something that was contrary to his will. Jesus saw through the devil’s clever twisting of the Word. He responded by correctly quoting God’s Word to defeat the temptations of the devil.

So also we need to be well-grounded in God’s Word. Satan attacks us every day with false religious ideas. Many people claiming to be speaking God’s Word are instead spreading the lies of the devil. God spoke about this in Jeremiah 23:31, “I am against the prophets who wag their own tongues and yet declare, ‘The LORD declares.’” The only way to be sure that what is being said is in line with God’s Word is to be firmly grounded in that Word. May God protect us, but, if someday falsehood should come from this pulpit, the only way to know this is to compare it to the rest of God’s Word. This again underscores the absolute need for parents to make sure that their children are well-versed in God’s Word. If we don’t do so, we are sending our children out into the world completely unarmed against Satan and his attacks. May we encourage our children to make the truths of the Bible their own. May we be a good example as we make the Bible our own. Armed with the Word of God, may we learn from the example of Christ as he defeated Satan.

Verse 13 says, “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.” Although Satan was beaten this time, it did not mean that he gave up on his attempts to lead Jesus into sin. He tried again and again to have Jesus fall. He worked through Jesus’ disciples to discourage him from going through with his suffering and death. So also, my friends, may we not rest on our laurels when we, with God’s help, resist the devil. You can be sure that he is already looking for another place to attack. Let us learn from Jesus’ example, as to how to defeat Satan. Let us recognize his tricks. Use the Word of God to defend yourselves. Fight to good fight of faith until you receive the crown of victory from Christ’s own hand. Because Jesus defeated the devil on the cross, we know that the victory is ours. Amen.