Matthew 4:1-11 (NKJV) “Satan Tempts Jesus”
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'” Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'” Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'” Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.'” Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
The purpose of fasting is to abstain from something(s) for a spiritual purpose. Reflect on why you are fasting: for prayers to be answered, for God to do something in your life, for breakthroughs? When you fast, you are choosing to say YES to a greater thing by saying NO to a lesser thing. As you fast, you will be tested, tempted or attacked, sometimes leading to what you may consider a “fasting failure” or an “oopsie”. When you decided to fast, you took a step of faith and the enemy wants to attack you for making that declaration. The Bible gives us insight on how to deal with temptations and tests while fasting.
Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights in the wilderness and faced great temptation from Satan in three ways. (Matthew 4:1-11) First, the enemy tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread because the enemy knew Jesus was hungry. The first temptation Jesus faced, and you may face as a result of fasting, is the temptation of your flesh. You may be tempted to do something you declared, or chose, not to do. Second, the enemy tempted Jesus to throw Himself off the cliff for the angels to catch, or to “see what God will do.” This is the temptation of the pride of life. Third, the enemy led Jesus to the top of a mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world that could be His. The enemy tried to tempt Jesus through His eyes, or by sight. When you fast, you may be tempted by what you see, or what is revealed to you through your eyes, that you may not have even noticed before!
For example, if you are fasting sweets, you may never have noticed how many people order desserts at a restaurant until you decide to abstain from sweets during your fast and now it seems everyone around you is indulging in sweets! What temptations have you personally experienced during this fast?
The good news is the Bible helps us understand temptation. In James 1 (vs. 13-18), the scriptures state that when we are tempted (not if we are tempted), it is not sin, but we must identify temptations because it grows and leads to sin, or death. As we saw in the example of Jesus above, fasting is a test. James 1 also reveals that God tempts NO one, but He will give tests. When you feel tempted, you must decide if it’s a test from God or a temptation (not from God.) Do you remember your teachers in school giving you tests? The teacher expected you to answer the questions and if you did not know the answer, the teacher did not tempt you (or even want you) to cheat, but the purpose of the test was so the teacher could reveal your knowledge of a particular subject. The same is true of God’s tests. If you determine the adversity you are faced with is a test, then lean in to God. If it is a temptation, then resist and run from it. Jesus promises that He will not give you a test above what you can handle and there will always be a door of escape.
James 1:13-18 (NKJV)
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, by beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of His creatures.
As you fast, and face tests and temptations, focus on the greater things you are believing for and the good things God has given you! When you are tempted, you didn’t fail God; you were not designed to pass the test on your own, it’s to reveal we desperately need God and most importantly, who He is in His greatness.
What are some of your personal temptations and how have you responded? Be honest and truthful about your journey: what prayers have been answered; what directions made clear; what breakthroughs experienced; and what have been the tests, temptations or “oopsies”?
We recommend you keep a journal of your personal responses to questions posed in each of the daily devotionals so you can meditate not only during the first 21 days during your prayer time, but you can reflect throughout the entire year to be able to see how God has really moved on your behalf in 2016 and you have record of your testimony.