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Luke 4:1-3

“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil” (vv.1–2a).

From the very beginning of the earthly life of Jesus, He never failed to obey His Father and thus He qualified Himself to be our High Priest (Heb. 5:8–10). All of His days, Jesus kept the commandments of God, yet there are particular episodes of obedience in His life that are especially instructive for us. One of the most important of these is the temptation of our Lord by Satan.

Paul tells us explicitly that Christ is the new Adam (Rom. 5:12–21), the progenitor of a new humanity that will love and serve the Creator. He tells us directly that to be in Christ is to be in the last Adam and to be part of His redeemed people who will be all that God intended humanity to be. But other New Testament authors teach us this concept as well, though they do so indirectly. By focusing much attention on the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, the Synoptic Gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke—teach us that Jesus is the last Adam. By telling the temptation story, they make this point more implicitly than Paul does, but they make it just the same.

Just consider this: What was the fundamental temptation that Adam faced in the garden of Eden? It was whether He was going to trust God and live by His Word even when the alternative offered by Satan—to become as God—might seem better on the surface. The devil tempted Jesus in a similar way. After forty days of no food and living in a harsh wilderness, the temptations Satan offered to turn stones to bread and to rule in comfort over all the world’s kingdoms certainly would have looked appealing to most people. But Jesus chose to trust God and live by His Word, and so He resisted Satan successfully (Luke 4:1–13).

Satan tempted Adam by twisting what God had said, not correcting Eve when she added to what the Lord had told her (Gen. 3:1–6). In a similar way, the devil tempted Jesus, quoting Scripture selectively and not balancing it with the rest of the Old Testament’s teachings on subjects such as putting God to the test, true worship, and how the Lord sustains His people. And how did Jesus defeat Satan?

By knowing God’s Word in all its fullness and not setting one portion against another (Luke 4:1–13). He interpreted Scripture by Scripture, thus knowing and using Scripture’s true meaning against the enemy. By overcoming Satan’s temptation, Jesus succeeded where Adam failed in Eden, and our salvation was made possible. (It was actualized in Christ’s death and resurrection.) He also gave an example for us. To resist temptation, we must know and live by God’s Word

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

As we grow in our knowledge of and love for God’s Word, we grow in our ability to recognize the sin in our own hearts and to identify temptation when it confronts us. Growing in God’s Word also shows us God’s glory, convincing us that He is better than anything sin has to offer. If we want to grow stronger against sin, we must grow in our understanding of God’s Word

For Further Study
  • Proverbs 1:10
  • Matthew 4:1–11
  • Hebrews 4:15
  • James 1:13

Obedience in Baptism

Obedience under the Law

Keep Reading Why We Are Reformed

From the May 2017 Issue
May 2017 Issue