Satan tempted Jesus by appealing to either fear or desire. Jesus resisted. He didn’t fall for any of the temptations. He was focused on God, and God’s purposes.
The first three times Jesus was tempted by Satan are in the wilderness, Matthew 4:1-11. We all, at times, walk through dry areas, or seasons in life like Jesus in the wilderness, and we all face temptation. It helps to be aware of the enemies tactics to pull us down, pull our attentions away from God, and place them on ourselves. One of the greatest tactics in the devils arsenal, is getting us to focus selfishly on our own needs, desires, and wants. It puts us firmly at the center of our life, edging God out.
1. Jesus’ need for food. Jesus was hungry; He had been fasting 40 days. We have very real practical needs and desires. We can spend our whole lives seeking to meet these desires; and by the way, they are insatiable. Or we can choose to seek God as our number one desire and trust Him with our whole life; God fully satisfies.
2. Desire for applause, recognition, asserting position. Satan said to Jesus, If you really are…prove it! We see this every day. People trying to prove who they are. Strongly asserting their dominance or position. It’s looking for the admiration and recognition of people. Attention seeking becomes an incurable addiction, Look at me! I am…(awesome!).
3. Desire for power. We all like a certain amount of control in our lives. But it is all-out sinful when we seek to control people, seek power over people for personal or financial gain, being driven by ego to satisfy an inner desire for power, and again dominance over people. So long as we are grabbing control for ourselves, we are living a powerless-Christian-life. It’s only as we let go of our need for control, fully yielding to God, we get His power working in our life. This is a great read: Control Freak.
The fourth time Jesus was tempted was in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was about to walk out the final part of God’s plan for His earthly life, Mark 14:33-41.
4. The temptation of fear. It was an attempt to deter Jesus from fulfilling God’s will–dying on the cross. Jesus asked God, Is there another way? And He even said, Anything is possible for you, take this cup away from me. Yet not what I want… Fear is used to subvert the plans of God. An attempt to steal away God’s purpose and destiny. It’s amazing how limiting fear is. It can make a person sit down, shut up, and do nothing. It’s paralyzing. We have to constantly remind ourselves, perfect love drives out fear, 1John 4:18.