Introduction: Last week we discovered that pride (wanting to be like
God) was at the root of Satan’s sin and fall from heaven. We also
found that pride (wanting to be like God) was the cause of the entry
of sin into our world. Since this is the way in which the war between
Jesus and Satan began, how does this play out in our daily lives? My
daughter sometimes says that she has “issues” with me. Just what are
these “issues” between God and Satan in which we are now combatants?
Let’s dive in and find out!

  1. Trusting God

    1. Read Matthew 4:1-3. Perhaps we can best understand the
      main issues in the controversy by studying how they played
      out between the two chief combatants.

      1. Put yourself in Jesus’ place. Would you take Satan’s

        1. What, if any, issues do you see involved in this
          suggestion? (Satan is challenging Jesus’
          position and power as the Son of God.)

          1. Would it be a good idea to make something
            to eat after not eating for 40 days? What
            if we state the issue the way our children
            do – “What’s wrong with it?” (It seems to
            be a matter of dependence. Will Jesus
            depend on Himself to work out this problem
            or will He trust God to provide.)

        2. There is an important context issue that we do
          not want to miss. Read Matthew 3:16-17. Does
          this give new light to Satan’s temptation in
          Matthew 4:3? (Yes. God just said that Jesus was
          His son. Satan suggests God is wrong and that
          Jesus should so something to prove God is

    2. Read Jesus’ response in Matthew 4:4. How does this answer
      Satan’s temptation? How did Jesus understand the
      temptation? (This “nails down” the trust issue. Jesus saw
      this as an issue of trusting what God had just told Him –
      that He was the Son of God.)

    3. How does Satan bring this same trust issue to your life?

      1. Does Satan challenge whether or not you are a son or
        daughter of God?

      2. Does Satan challenge whether your confessed sins have
        been forgiven?

      3. Does Satan challenge you to depend upon your own
        power rather than God’s power?

      4. How would Eve’s temptation have ended ( Genesis 3:3-5)
        if she had responded the same way that Jesus

    4. Did you notice that the temptation of Eve and the
      temptation of Jesus both involved food? Is that a
      coincidence? (Maybe — but I don’t think so. Food is a
      basic necessity. Food is essential and helpful, not
      sinful. Satan will come to us with something that is
      essential and good to try to undermine faith in God.)

      1. Have you seen this in your life? Satan takes
        something that is essential and uses it to cause you
        to distrust God?

    5. Read Revelation 12:17. How does the message of Revelation
      12:17 apply to Satan’s first wilderness temptation of
      Jesus? (First, we have Jesus’ testimony in Matthew 4:4
      that we must trust God’s word instead of our own power.
      Second, obeying God’s word (“commandments of God”) is a
      very clear indicator of whether or not we trust God.)

    6. To review, what “issues” do we find in this first
      wilderness temptation? (Whether Jesus is the Son of God?
      Whether God can be trusted? Whether we should rely on our
      own power or God’s word?)

  2. Obeying God

    1. Read Matthew 4:5-6. Would you be tempted to throw yourself
      down from a high building?

      1. Why do you think Satan used this temptation? Can you
        see any logic or cunning in it? (This is a reaction
        to Jesus’ response to the first temptation. Jesus
        said in response to the first temptation that He was
        going to trust God to care for Him and not His own
        power. Satan says, “OK, let’s see how much you trust
        God, throw yourself down from this high point.”)

      2. Have you ever seen Christians go from one extreme to
        another? Is this the work of Satan? (I think this is
        an example of this type of temptation. Jesus properly
        refused to take matters into His own hands in the
        first temptation, so Satan suggests He go overboard –
        completely forget about His own responsibilities —
        and trust God to save Him by jumping off a high

      3. Notice the location of this temptation? Where is it?
        (It is the temple in Jerusalem!)

        1. Why would Satan tempt Jesus in “church?” (This
          is another “comfort zone” temptation. We need
          food, so Satan tempts us in that context. We
          should worship God, so Satan tempts Jesus when
          He is at the place of worship. We need to always
          be alert to sin.)
    1. Read Matthew 4:7. How do you understand Jesus’ answer?
      (This is a quotation from Deuteronomy 6:16)

      1. On the face of it, jumping off high buildings is not
        one of my temptations in life. Was this an “issue” in
        the fall of man? (Yes. When Eve walked near the
        forbidden tree, when she talked to Satan, she was
        voluntarily putting herself on dangerous ground. She
        was “tempting” God to protect her in dangerous

      2. Is this still a major “issue” between God and Satan?
        (Yes. Over the years I have class members who quote
        Ben Franklin, “The Lord helps those who help
        themselves” or who cite “common sense” as a Biblical
        virtue without being able to pinpoint where that
        principle is found in the Bible. I think it is found
        here. This temptation shows that we are “partners”
        with God in staying away from temptation and danger.
        We may not be tempted to jump off high buildings, but
        I’ll bet you are tempted to wander towards

      3. How would you specifically apply Jesus statement “Do
        not put the Lord your God to the test” in your life
        this week? (Don’t place yourself in unnecessary
        danger. Avoid “hanging around” sin – especially in
        areas in which you know you are weak. Wear seat belts
        when you drive. Don’t drive recklessly. Watch your
        diet, exercise, don’t smoke. Keep your tension levels
        lower by trusting God in emergencies — which is the
        context for Deuteronomy 6:16. (The story, if you
        would like to review it, is found in Exodus 17:1-7.))

  1. Worship God

    1. Read Matthew 4:8-9. What issue do you see here? (Remember,
      last week we learned that sin originated in Satan because
      he wanted to be like God ( Isaiah 14:13-14). Here, Satan
      asks Jesus to give him the worship that should only be
      given to God. In that way Satan could be “like God.”)

      1. The first temptation was very subtle. This does not
        seem subtle at all. Why would Satan think Jesus would
        “fall” for this temptation? (In the first two
        temptations Satan questioned whether Jesus was the
        Son of God. Here, Satan no longer questions Jesus’
        authority. Instead, Satan offers Jesus a “shortcut”
        to his mission on earth to win back the world for
        God. The temptation for Jesus is to avoid the pain
        and suffering that lie ahead in winning back the

      2. How is this one of the “issues” in our life? (It is
        easy to follow God when it costs nothing. The real
        issue in our life is “Who do we serve” — when it
        costs us something?)

    2. Read Matthew 4:10. What answer does Jesus give to this

      1. How can you apply this answer to your life? (Jesus
        has two elements to His answer. First, he wants to
        avoid being in the presence of Satan. Second, He says
        that He will worship and serve God only.)

      2. How about you? Do you avoid things that tempt you? Do
        you not only worship God, but also serve Him?)

    1. Friend, how about you? Do you trust God? Is it your goal
      to be a partner with God, and show your loyalty to Him, by
      determining to obey His will? Will you trust and obey even
      when it costs you something? All of these are fundamental
      issues in the great controversy between Jesus and Satan.

  1. Next Week: The Contenders