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Here's how to resist the devil. Luke 4.1-4

Luke 4: Part 1 (1)

Pray Psalm 19.12-14.

Who can understand his errors?
Cleanse me from secret faults.
Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins;
Let them not have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
And I shall be innocent of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.

Sing Psalm 19.12-14.
(St. Christopher: Beneath the Cross of Jesus)
Who, Lord, can know his errors? O keep sin far from me!
Let evil rule not in my soul that I may blameless be.
Oh, let my thoughts, let all my words before Your glorious sight
be pleasing to You, gracious Lord, acceptable and right.

Read and meditate on Luke 4.1-4.

1. In what condition was Jesus when the devil came to tempt Him?

2. How did he first tempt Jesus? How did Jesus respond?

Luke 4 is like the overture to a great musical: You get a sampling of everything that is to come. For that reason, we’re going to slow the pace of our study, because we want to observe as much as possible the “footprint” of Jesus’ ministry as it is revealed in this chapter.

And note the way it begins: “Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit…” (v. 1). This is the key to everything, not only in Jesus’ life and ministry but in ours. If we want to prevail against temptation, to be used in good works of healing and love, to speak the truth, make disciples, sustain a rich prayer life with the Lord, and all the rest our great salvation entails, we must begin here, filled with and submissive to the Spirit of God.

Jesus would be forty days in the wilderness of Judea without food (v. 2). In this He recapitulated Israel’s forty years of wandering in the wilderness, much as the rest of His life and ministry would recapitulate God’s purpose for His people and the promises He made to them.

Even in His physically weakened condition, Jesus controlled the devil. Jonathan Edwards described the devil as the greatest blockhead who ever lived, thinking he could best the Savior and claim the throne of God. He struck first at what he thought was Jesus’ most vulnerable point: the flesh. Jesus rebuffed Him by clinging to the Word of God – every word, even the words about suffering. Physical comfort, bodily needs, and temporal relief must never take precedence over every Word of God.

Jesus 1; devil 0.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162.
Growing from childhood to adulthood is never easy, and no one ends up grown who has not suffered something. Because we live in a sinful world, this is the way it is. So Jesus, no doubt, had the usual difficulties that we all experienced while growing in wisdom and stature (Lk. 2.52), though He managed them perfectly.

At the beginning of His overt Kingdom work, He was baptized and introduced to the world as God’s beloved Son (Lk. 3.22) at the Jordan river, with its life-giving water, beauty, and history.

Then He stepped directly into the fray of battle, not wrestling against “flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness…” (Eph. 6.12).

No left jab or uppercut swing would take Him down because He was prepared. He was dressed and ready for the fight (Eph. 6.13-18). He had been present during the many trying times that the children of Israel had gone through, and He knew that their strength came from Him. He was there when they passed through the sea: “For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10.4). He was there with David when he battled Goliath (1 Sam. 7.15). And now, Jesus knew that the Holy Spirit was with Him against the devil, His Goliath. Jesus spoke with the same defiance as David who said, “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Sam. 17.26)

The desert, the antithesis of the Jordan, was a deadly, dry, and dreary place. And there He was, for us, at the beginning of His trip to Jerusalem and the cross. And from there, on to glory. All along the way He was showing us how to do it. How to live life God’s way, through the power of the Holy Spirit and the guidance of the Word.

His dependence was upon God. Paul warned, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10.12) Jesus was armed with every Word of God, even when struck in His most vulnerable place, so He did not fall. His physical hunger was overpowering, and yet from His mouth came these words, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God’” (Lk. 4.4).

We have been forewarned about all the places where we will be vulnerable to fall (Ex. 20.1-17). We must take heed to the Word of God for strength so that we do not stumble. “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble. LORD, I hope for Your salvation, and I do Your commandments” (Ps. 119.165, 166).

And though this world , with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
the Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him
his rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.
(Luther, 1529)

For reflection
1. How does the Law of God “forewarn” us of places we might be vulnerable to sin?

2. Jesus knew just the right Word of God to resist every temptation. How can you prepare each day like this?

3. Where do you expect to encounter temptation today? How must you prepare for this?

The word of God is our sword, and faith in that word is our shield. God has many ways of providing for his people, and therefore is at all times to be depended upon in the way of duty. All Satan’s promises are deceitful; and if he is permitted to have any influence in disposing of the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, he uses them as baits to ensnare men to destruction. We should reject at once and with abhorrence, every opportunity of sinful gain or advancement, as a price offered for our souls; we should seek riches, honors, and happiness in the worship and service of God only. Matthew Henry (1662,1714), Commentary on Luke 4.1-4

Pray Psalm 19.7-11.
Thank and praise the Lord for all His Word. Call on Him to give you now those things from His Word that you will need for resisting the devil, overcoming temptation, and serving others with the grace of the Lord.

Sing Psalm 19.7-11.|
(St. Christopher: Beneath the Cross of Jesus)
The Law of God is perfect, His testimony sure;
the simple man God’s wisdom learns, the soul receives its cure.
God’s Word is right, and His command is pure, and truth imparts;
He makes our eyes to understand; with joy He fills our hearts.

The fear of God is cleansing, forever shall it last.
His judgments all are true and just, by righteousness held fast.
O seek them more than gold most fine, than honey find them sweet,
Be warned by every word and line; be blessed with joy complete.

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website,, and clicking the Scriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download all the studies in our Luke series by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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