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Matthew 4:1-5 by Robert Dean
Series:Revelation (2004)
Duration:48 mins 19 secs

Satanic Attack on the Seed; Matthew 4:1-5

 

In Genesis 3:1 said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" In this attack Satan not only questions the message of God in Genesis chapter two, it questions His motive and the prohibition to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. By stating this question the way he has Satan doesn't have a frontal assault on the character or integrity of God but he is implying that, he is suggesting that there is something insufficient about God's provision. Not only that but what God said was not really true, so he questions the integrity of God by saying to the woman that she won't die. In 3:5 he questions God's motive and suggests that He is restricting something good so that man can't have it. We know what happened then. The result of the temptation was what we call the fall of the human race into sin.

 

The result of the fall was that man loses his position as the king of the earth. Satan then has usurped that position and he is given titles in Scripture such as the prince of the power of the air in Ephesians 2:2, the god of this age in 2 Corinthians 4:4, and the ruler of this world in John 12:31; 16:11. So what happens in this insidious temptation of the woman is a direct assault on the position of man over the kingdom, and assault on the provision of God in terms of His grace, and his questioning of God's integrity, especially in terms of His plan. So after the fall there is a warning by God, the announcement of judgment upon the man and the woman, but first of all on the serpent. And that is the most significant statement made in Genesis 3:15. As God addresses the serpent He says: "I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel." The last three clauses there indicate the flow of human history, that enmity between Satan's seed and the seed of the woman, the emphasis on the seed of the woman as the ultimate solution to the problem and that there would be this conflict between the two.

 

There are no more direct assaults on the human race by Satan in the Old Testament, although there are numerous indirect assaults. The next time we see a direct attack of Satan in human history comes at the inception of the ministry of Jesus Christ when he is inaugurated into His public ministry.

 

What we see in the temptations of Christ is a reflection, a mirror image of the temptation strategy in the garden. It is important to have in the back of our minds two things. First there is the context of what happens in the flow of the life of Christ—the baptism by John the Baptist, the leading of the Holy Spirit into the wilderness, followed by the temptation. The other context has tom do with understanding the plan of God in terms of the incarnation, what Jesus Christ is doing in terms of demonstrating His qualifications to go to the cross and also providing a precedent for the spiritual life of the believer in the church age. We have to look at the context otherwise the implications of what is happening here will not be as evident to us. What is interesting is that as we go through these passages we will see various things that are emphasised that tie these things together and help us to understand what is happening here.

 

Matthew13 NASB Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan {coming} to John, to be baptized by him." John the Baptist has a mission as the last Old Testament to announce that the Messiah has come, to announce that the kingdom that the Messiah is to bring is at hand, and the conditions necessary for Israel in light of covenants that God has given them, the conditions that are required for them to see the kingdom inaugurated. That is why his message has been, "Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand," because they are not living in light of the grace provision of God. They are operating on religious legalism in terms of the doctrines of the Pharisees and Sadducees and have left the path of God's truth and plan for them and so they have been called back to change their orientation and to refocus on the grace of God.

 

Now it is time for the Messiah to appear. The forerunner has appeared and in view of Old Testament prophecy he has announced that the Messiah is about to come, that the kingdom of God is near, and so Jesus comes to him at the Jordan in order to be baptised by him. Jesus' baptism is showing the initiation of His public ministry. Matthew 3:15 NASB "But Jesus answering said to him, "Permit {it} at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." The term "righteousness" has to do with conformity to a standard. The standard is conformity to God's plan. God's plan has definite protocol and procedures to it and that involves the fulfilment of prophecy, the inauguration of Jesus' public ministry, and is initiation by a prophet for that fits the Old Testament pattern that the king is always under the authority of God, represented by God's prophet. They have to fulfil this standard of God's plan.

Philippians 2:5, Paul gives a mandate based on the Greek word phroneo [fronew] meaning to think a certain way, have a certain mental attitude, a certain mindset. NASB "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, [6] who, although He existed in the form [essence, undiminished deity] of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped…" In the process of the incarnation when He was restricting the use of certain attributes for a period of time He didn't grab on to that, hold on to it. That is in contrast to what is happening in Genesis chapter three. Satan is offering to the woman: "If you eat the fruit you will be like God." She grasped after deity, she grabbed after the fruit because that would make her like God. Satan wants to be like God. All of that lies in these two creatures that want to have deity. In contrast there is the second person of the Trinity who is in His essence true deity; He already has that. But rather than grasping after it He is willing to relinquish its usage for a while. He doesn't lose it ever, He always has the deity; He is just willing to limit the use of these divine attributes for a time. [7] "but emptied Himself, taking the form [essence] of a bond-servant, {and} being made in the likeness of men." He was willing to lower Himself to the level of a creature. Here the creator of mankind is going to serve mankind. [8] "Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." The essence of deity if joined with the essence of humanity, so that Jesus who is eternally the second person of the Trinity takes on, adds to His deity, true humanity. He was "obedient" to the plan of God.

The attack in the garden was on the sufficiency of God's grace, the sufficiency of His Word, and the integrity of His plan. Satan and then the woman and the man question and challenge by their actions the integrity of God's plan. Jesus in contrast humbles Himself—grace orientation and authority orientation—and becomes obedient to the plan of God, even the death on the cross. What is the result? He is obedient and in His humility to recognition of the proper sphere of authority over Him, even though it cost Him so much, in that act of obedience it leads to His eternal exaltation and glorification. [9] "For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, [10] so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, [11] and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." The path to exaltation and glorification is orientation to the plan of God and His authority. When we are not oriented to the authority of God and are operating on arrogance, then we think that leads to glorification and it leads to self-destruction.

There has been a lot of debate over what the word "kenosis" means. Liberals came along and said that what it means is He gave up His deity. That is not true, he doesn't give up His deity. Others more orthodox have defined kenosis as the fact that the Son "limits the independent use of His attributes." We read that in the books of any number of theologians, yet there is a problem with that definition. The problem is the word "independent" and the reason is because as the second person of the Trinity He never used His attributes independently of the Father. That is not the issue. Jesus in His humanity is going to be obedient to the plan of God and not rely on His divine attributes, His divine power, His own omnipotence and omniscience, to solve problems in His humanity. His purpose in the incarnation is to live out His human life in dependence upon God, demonstrating that a human being—in contrast to Adam—living Hs life in orientation to God's plan and in orientation to God's provision can live sufficiently and have happiness and meaning and significance in life, that H doesn't need to rely upon His deity to solve His problems; He can do it on the grace of God and on the Word of God. What He demonstrated in His life in the incarnation is that the Word of God and the grace provision of God—and specifically that involves the indwelling and filling of the Holy Spirit in the incarnation—was sufficient to handle any problem. He did not need to rely on His deity to do it.

The point of the temptation is almost as if he had this wall that He generates between His divine attributes and His human attributes so that he is willing limiting access to His divine power, omniscience, so that he is going to handle these problems from His humanity in total dependence upon God. This is what we see in Hebrews 2:8ff., a quote from Psalm 8: "WHAT IS MAN, THAT YOU REMEMBER HIM? OR THE SON OF MAN, THAT YOU ARE CONCERNED ABOUT HIM? "YOU HAVE MADE HIM FOR A LITTLE WHILE LOWER THAN THE ANGELS; YOU HAVE CROWNED HIM WITH GLORY AND HONOR, AND HAVE APPOINTED HIM OVER THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS; YOU HAVE PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET." For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him." "You have crowned him with glory and honour" is specifically applied to Jesus Christ. When is He crowned with glory and honour? At the ascension and recognition of what He has done. The latter part of verse 8 doesn't happen until the second coming. [9] "But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels [true humanity], {namely,} Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor [at His ascension], so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone." Jesus Christ became true humanity for the primary objective of dying on the cross for us. [10] "For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author…" This could be translated "pioneer" or "forerunner." He is the pathfinder; He is setting a precedent in His spiritual life. "… of their salvation through sufferings." The precedent Jesus is setting is He is modelling for us in His humanity how to live as God intended in light of the sufficiency of His grace, the sufficiency of His Word, and the integrity of God's plan.

God the Father mad the "author of their salvation," i.e. the Lord Jesus Christ, complete through sufferings. He took Him through a process of adversity in order to exhibit what was going on in His soul, i.e. the Lord Jesus Christ was not relying upon His deity to solve His problems, He is relying on the provision of God. We have that same provision: the same sufficient Word of God, the same sufficient grace of God, the same righteous plan of God that is perfect in every single way. And if we learn what God has provided for us in terms of His grace provision, and if we learn His Word and His plan and rely upon that, and we fit within that in terms of humility, then the ultimate result of that is our glorification and praise for us at the judgment seat of Christ. But when we try to solve our problems on our own in terms of our limited resources, our limited knowledge, when we reject the sufficiency of His grace and the sufficient of His Word, then the result may be temporal glorification, temporal stabilities, a measure of temporal happiness or pleasure, but there is no eternal glory to God.

So Jesus sets that pattern and He establishes His credentials for this initially at the temptation. This is to establish His credentials at the beginning of His ministry and He passes that test. Jesus in His humanity has real success only because he completely subordinates His will to the will of the Father.    

Illustrations