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One Little Word The First Temptation

The first temptation of Christ hinges on a tiny word – “if.” Satan, encountering a famished Jesus in the wilderness, whispered, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread” (Matt. 4:3, italics mine).

It may seem a minor thing for Jesus to have pulled off this miracle. Who could blame him for doing so? After all, he had been fasting for 40 days and 40 nights. But Jesus knew the scripture. He would not satisfy His belly just to prove something to the devil. He knew that physical food was not the only thing that people needed to live, so he quoted the last part of Deuteronomy 8:3. Recall that Satan used a tiny word in the Garden of Eden, too, asking Eve, “Has God really said, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?” (Gen. 3:1, italics mine). 

The tempter is a master of subtlety. He doesn’t have to use long orations to cast doubt on our relationship with the Father:

“If you are a child of God, why do you go through all these doubts and trials?”

“Since you have failed so much, how could God possibly love you?”

“If you are so special to God, why won’t he answer that prayer you keep offering?”

Jesus used the Word of God to counterattack Satan. So must we. The Bible tells us:

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (I John 3:1).

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

“…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).

Temptation and difficulties come to every believer. They even came to our Lord, who was God’s Son. We should not be dismayed when the flesh, the world and the devil hurl their darts against us, but we don’t have to passively become a dartboard, either. God’s Word is powerful, a double-edged sword. It has been given to us for a reason, so cherish it. Hide it deep in your heart. When the devil comes to call, quote it out loud. Fight back with God’s power, not your own! If it was good enough for our Lord, it’s good enough for us.

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