1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’ ”

Luke 4:1-4, ESV

The Scriptural belief of a real personal devil is not popular among evangelical Christians today. In 2009, Barna published the results of a study that revealed only 26% of self-proclaimed Christians believe that Satan is a living being and not merely a symbol of evil. Only 26% of Christian people believe Satan is real? I hope that statistic is mistaken. According to the French poet Charles Baudelaire, “the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”

The Scripture describes the Devil in many ways. Using the New Testament alone we may provide a litany of descriptions for him. He is a tempter, the father of lies, the enemy of God, the enemy of God’s people, a thief, a murderer, an oppressor, a schemer, a trap setter, a sinner, and that ancient serpent. The reality of Satan seems to be painfully obvious to any serious student of the Word. 

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

Ephesians 6:11, ESV

If it ain’t broke.

Jesus is in the wilderness and Satan has come to tempt the Son of God. How would the deceiver attempt to snare and overcome the Holy One of Isreal? Remember he is the most subtle or crafty of all other creatures. He attempted to use the oldest trick in the book. The Apostle John might have identified Satan’s tactic as the lust of the flesh. He asked the Son of God to act independently of the Father. The language here is similar to his persuasive talk in the garden. To Jesus, Satan said, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” To Eve, Satan essentially said, if you can eat from any tree in the garden then choose to eat from that particular tree in the midst of the garden. While this line of logic eventually worked with Eve, Jesus was armed with a sharp two-edged sword in His mouth. “It is written” was Jesus’ reply. His words shook that old devil to the core like the shine of glittering steel in the hand of a mighty warrior. 

“Man shall not live by bread alone” was Jesus’ prooftext. He wielded that Scripture as a weapon of offense. He stood upon that Scripture as a platform for stableness. He leaned upon that Scripture as a bed for resting. Jesus would not fall prey to the Devil’s scheme. Jesus would not follow after Esau and sell His birthright for a little bread. The scheme was an old one and historically it was an effective one, but Satan had never met an adversary like this before. Indeed, Jesus was truly man and His hunger was as crippling as any other man who had not eaten for forty days. Food or no food, Jesus would not yeild to that enemy of all good.

A Consolation Prize

Christian, our Saviour was tempted like we have been tempted, but He overcame and never sinned. The good news is that Jesus’ righteousness has been credited to our account by grace through faith. The bad news is that we are still simultaneously saints and sinners who are prone to wander. That old serpent couldn’t defeat our Lord, but he will do his dead level best to overcome you. Don’t yield to temptation. Identify potential problems before they arise. Keep Scripture in your mind at all times. Repent when necessary, but never give in. Fight man, fight that evil tempter and never stop.