There’s an old joke about a young newly-wed sitting at his desk paying bills when he came to the credit card statement. As he scanned through the charges he noticed a charge of $250 on his wife’s card from a department store. He hollered for his wife to join him.
“How could you spend $250 at a department store?” he asked.
“Well,” she said, “I was standing in the store looking for a dress. Then, I found myself trying it on. It was like the devil whispering to me, ‘You look really good in this dress. You should buy it.’”
“Well,” her husband answered, “You should have just said, ‘Get behind me, Satan!’”
“I did,” responded the wife. “But, he said it looked great from the back too!”
Today’s Bible reading in Luke records Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness.
Jesus was tempted in three different ways. (1) To turn the stones into bread to satisfy His hunger. (2) To worship Satan to receive the kingdoms of the world; (3) To prove He was the Son of God by jumping from the pinnacle of the temple. These allurements appealed to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
The apostle John warns that Satan uses these same three tactics today to lead us astray. But there’s another aspect to temptation that’s important to note in this text.
“Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time” (Lk. 4:13).
We often talk about Jesus overcoming temptation and defeating the devil as if this was the end of his temptations. But apparently, Satan continued to look for opportunities to tempt Jesus again.
Although the Bible doesn’t say so, could Jesus have been tempted to retaliate against his constant, carping critics, the Pharisees?
Suppose Jesus was tempted by prideful ambition when he was at the height of his popularity and the adoring crowds wanted to make him a King?
Could Jesus have been tempted by the women who followed Him, like Mary Magdalene, to commit a sexual sin?
I wonder if Jesus was ever tempted by some human frailly that caused him to go alone for extended periods of prayer?
Was Satan seeking to divert Jesus from going to the cross, when Jesus passionately prayed in the garden of Gethsemane?
There is an incident where Jesus told the apostles that He must suffer and die at the hands of Jewish leaders. To which Peter took Jesus aside and actually rebuked Him for saying this. That’s when Jesus retorted, “Get behind Me, Satan!”
Remember, temptation is not a sin. So these suppositions may not be too far-fetched. The verse does imply that Satan tempted Jesus on other occasions. Plus the Bible says that Jesus was “tempted in all points, as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).
Think about the statement–“an opportune time.” Satan always looks for an opportune time to tempt us today.
It may be during times of physical, mental, or emotional struggles. When there’s a church problem that discourages us. Sometimes a trusted preacher or pastor can let us down, and we’re tempted to quit. Maybe when we feel our prayers have not been answered. Or when a close friend turns against us. In such situations of trial and trouble, when we feel weak and vulnerable, the devil will use that opportunity to lead us away from the Lord.
How many marriages have been broken when a couple is struggling because an opportunity presented itself to engage in an illicit affair?
How many friendships have been severed when tempted by anger and harsh, ugly words were uttered that damaged the relationship seemingly beyond repair?
How many young people have been lead astray because they allowed ungodly companions to influence them?
How many churches have been split when facing a challenge due to stubbornness, pride, and a lust for power?
Satan will use “an opportune time” when our defenses are weakened, our faith is wavering, and our emotions are conflicted, to tempt us to sin.
Through prayer, reliance on God’s Word, and enlisting others to help bear our burdens, we can overcome the wiles of the devil. However, we have a responsibility not to unnecessarily place ourselves in situations where we’re vulnerable. “Don’t give the devil an opportunity,” Paul warned (Eph. 4:27).
So, if you are tempted to spend money you don’t have, don’t go into a dress shop to just try it on and see how you look.
“Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (Jas. 4:7).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman