The Temptation of Satan

(Mat 4:1-4) Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If you be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

These are the words with which the devil first tried to tempt the Lord Jesus. What is the content of what the devil said? Go ahead and read it. (“If you be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.”) The devil said these words, which were quite simple, but is there a problem with the essential content of these words? (Yes.) What is the problem? It said, “If you be the Son of God,” so in its heart, did it know that the Lord Jesus was the Son of God? Did it know that He was Christ? (Yes.) Then why did it say “If you be”? (It was trying to tempt God.) Of course, it was trying to tempt God, but what was its purpose in doing so? It said, “If you be the Son of God.” In its heart it knew Jesus Christ was the Son of God, this was very clear in its heart, but despite this, did it submit to Him or did it worship Him? (No.) What did it want to do? It wanted to do this and say these words to make the Lord Jesus angry and then entice Him to take the bait, and to fool the Lord Jesus into doing things according to its way of thinking and rising to its hook. Isn’t this what was meant? In its heart it clearly knew this was the Lord Jesus Christ, but it still said this anyway. Isn’t this Satan’s nature? What is Satan’s nature? (To be sly, evil, and have no reverence for God.) It has no reverence for God. What is the negative thing it was doing here? Didn’t it want to attack God? It wanted to use this method to attack God, it said: “If you be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread”; isn’t this Satan’s evil intention? (Yes.) What was it really trying to do? Its purpose is very clear: It was trying to use this method to refute the position and identity of the Lord Jesus Christ. It said, “If You are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread. If You don’t, then You aren’t the Son of God and You just don’t do this work.” Is this what was meant here? It wanted to use this method to attack God, it wanted to dismantle and destroy God’s work; this is the malevolence and cunning of Satan. Its malevolence is a natural expression of its nature. Even though it knew the Lord Jesus Christ was the Son of God, the very incarnation of God Himself, it could not help itself but do this kind of thing, tailing God from behind and continuing to attack Him and take great pains to disturb and destroy God’s work and make an enemy of God.

Now, let us analyze this phrase that Satan used: “command that these stones be made bread.” To turn stones into bread—does this mean anything? It has no meaning. If there is food, why not eat it? Why is it necessary to turn stones into food? Is there meaning here? (No.) Although He was fasting at the time, surely the Lord Jesus had food to eat? Did He have food? (He did.) So, here, we see the preposterousness of Satan’s use of this phrase. For all its treachery and malice, we see its preposterousness and absurdity, right? Satan does a number of things. You see its malicious nature and you see it destroy God’s work. It’s hateful and exasperating. But, on the other hand, do you find a childish, absurd nature behind its words and actions? (Yes.) This is a revelation about Satan’s nature; it has this kind of nature and it will do this kind of thing. To men, the phrase is preposterous and laughable. But such words can indeed be uttered by Satan. Can we say that it is ignorant? Absurd? Satan’s evil is everywhere and is constantly being revealed. And how does the Lord Jesus answer it? (“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”) Do these words have any power? (They do.) Why do we say that they have power? (They are the truth.) Right. These words are the truth. Now, does man live by bread alone? The Lord Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights. Did He starve to death? (No.) He didn’t starve to death, so Satan approached Him, prompting Him to turn the stones into food by saying things of this sort: “If You turn the stones into food, won’t You then have things to eat? Won’t You then not have to fast, not have to go hungry?” But the Lord Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone,” which means that, although man lives in a physical body, what gives him life, what allows his physical body to live and breathe, is not food, but all the words uttered by the mouth of God. On the one hand, man regards these words as truth. The words give him faith, make him feel that he can depend on God, that God is truth. On the other hand, is there a practical aspect to these words? (There is.) Why? Because the Lord Jesus has fasted for 40 days and nights and He is still standing there, still alive. Is this an illustration? The point here is that He has not eaten anything, any food for 40 days and nights. He is still alive. This is the powerful evidence behind His phrase. The phrase is simple, but, as far as the Lord Jesus is concerned, was His phrase taught to Him by someone else, or did He think of it only because of what Satan had said to Him? Think about it. God is truth. God is life. Was God’s truth and life a late add-on? Was it born of experience? (No.) It is innate in God, meaning that truth and life reside in God’s substance. Whatever befalls Him, what He reveals is truth. This truth, this phrase—whether its content is long or short—it can let man live, give him life; it can enable man to find, within itself, truth, clarity about life’s journey, and enable him to have faith in God. This is the source of God’s use of this phrase. The source is positive, so is this positive thing holy? (Yes.) Satan’s phrase comes from Satan’s nature. Satan reveals its evil nature, its malicious nature, everywhere, constantly. Now, these revelations, does it make them naturally? (Yes.) Does anyone incite it? Does anyone help it? Does anyone coerce it? (No.) It issues them all of its own accord. This is Satan’s evil nature. Whatever God does and however He does it, Satan follows on His heels. The substance and the true features of these things that Satan says and does are Satan’s substance—evil substance, malicious substance.

from “God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself  V”

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