Sermon Outline: Matthew 4:1-11

Christ Church of Morgantown

6th Sunday of Epiphany

February 13th, 2011

Sermon: The Voice Satan and the Word of God

Matthew 4:1-11


At His baptism, Jesus is filled with the Spirit. As any good Jew knows the Spirit has one purpose: to prepare you for war. In Judges 3:10 Othniel receives the Spirit and goes to war. In Judges 15:14 Samson receives the Spirit and tears rope like it is thread. In 1 Samuel 16 David receives the Spirit and in chapter 17 he fights Goliath. Jesus receives the Spirit to prepare him for war. And God is not slow to push Christ to the front lines. No slow march. Immediately he is cast out into the wilderness to fight with Satan. In the movies they always save the climactic battle for the end. But in the Gospels it is the beginning. Satan loses the very first time he steps onto the battlefield. It must have been pretty discouraging for him.


In this section Matthew is again bringing up two Old Testament temptations. First, we have the temptation of Adam, where Satan’s voice drew Adam’s heart away from God. His failure plunged the entire human race into the cesspool of sin. Second, we have Israel’s failure in the wilderness. Two spectacular failures. Would this one turn out differently? Remember also that Adam was tempted under ideal circumstances. He was in a beautiful garden with almost no restrictions on his activities. But not so with Christ. Christ was in a desert without food, having fasted for forty days and nights.

The passage is not hard to understand. Satan offers Christ three specific temptations. Christ answers each temptation with a quote from the Scriptures. Let’s look at the three temptations and how Christ answers them.

  1. Verses 1-4 Do Not Trust God

    The appeal here is to physical comfort.

  2. Verses 5-7 Tempt God. Make God your servant to do your bidding.

  3. Verses 8-11 Bypass the Cross, take the easy route

    Satan brings pleasure just like following God does. But here is the difference. Satan gives temporary pleasure for lasting pain. God gives temporary hardship for long term joy.

All of these temptations have a common theme. First, Satan says to Christ be selfish. Think of yourself. Do not think of your Father in heaven. Do not think of your people. What do you need? Bread, reassurance that God will deliver you or a reign. Second, Satan says, do not trust God. God will not provide. God will not protect. God will not reward your work. Doubt God. Doubt his word to you. Therefore resisting temptation does not mean think about yourself. It means think about others.


  1. The guarantee of temptation.

    We must fight. We must teach our sons and daughters to fight. We are warriors. Life is a battle. If you are not prepared for a combat to the death then find another religion. I think this is especially important as we raise our children. Often, we think the answer is to keep them from any battles at all. We assume that temptation can be removed if we just keep out certain movies and don’t let them go to government schools.

    Calvin’s comments on I Timothy 6:12: Faith is never without combats. We cannot serve God without being men of war.

    Often great victory is followed by tremendous temptation. We like the end of chapter 3. This is my Son with whom I am well pleased. But we are not so fond of being thrown out into the wilderness.

  2. The method of temptation
    1. Satan wants you to question God’s Word. “Has God really said?” “If you are the Son of God…” Another words is God speaking the truth? Does he really mean what he says? You probably get sick and tired of hearing about God’s Word over and over again. But without the Scriptures, there is nothing left.
    2. Satan appeals to the immediate. Two the temptations go this direction: the bread and the Kingdom. Tempting us to settle for the here and now and not worry about the future. Impulse leads to sin. No man would commit adultery if he could see clearly the consequences of that sin. Would David had glanced at Bathsheba if he could see his dead child and his rebellious child? Here is why self-control is such a vital tool in the Christian life.
      1. Illustration of an engineer who got addicted to pornography.
      2. Proverbs 6 and 7

    1. Satan twists God’s Word to create doubt.

      He uses Psalm 91 in the exact opposite way it was meant to be used. The Psalm is an exhortation to trust. The Psalm is telling us to rest in God’s care for us. But Satan implies that we need to test God’s trustworthiness. He is tempting Christ just as he tempted Adam and Eve. God is not trustworthy. But there is an added twist. He is using the Word of God to tear down the character of God.

  3. The defeat of temptation
    1. Remember the work of Christ.

      All of our victorious battles are rooted in Christ’s ultimate victory. Our victories flow from his victory. We know that Satan is defeated, not because we have done so well, but because He has crushed him.

    2. The word of God

      Christ could have said a lot of things to Satan. Any words he spoke would have been the word of God because he was God. But what does he do? He quotes three times from Deuteronomy. Christ is telling us how to win the battle. But it must be applied. See we will never face the exact temptations that Christ faced, but we can use the same weapon.

    3. Don’t dialogue: Fight

      We like to talk things over instead of resist and run. Jesus did not rationally discuss the matter with Satan. When Satan says, “Take a second glance,” You say, “Get behind me Satan.”

      1. Illustration from LOTR with Saruman