“And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from Him for a season” (Luke 4:13).
Beloved friends, we have very much to learn from our Lord’s temptation. He was tempted in all points, like as we are. If you will study the temptation of Christ, you will not be ignorant of Satan’s devices. If you see how He worsted the enemy, you will learn what weapons to use against your great adversary. If you see how our Lord conquers throughout the whole battle, you will learn that, as you keep close to Him, you will be more than a conqueror through Him that loved you.
From our Lord’s temptation we learn, especially, to pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” Let us never mistake the meaning of that petition! We are to pray that we may not be tempted, for we are poor flesh and blood and very frail. It is for us to cry to God, “Lead us not into temptation.” But we also learn a great deal from the close of our Lord’s great threefold trial. We find Him, afterwards, peaceful – ministered unto by angels – and rejoicing. That should teach us to pray, “But, if we must be tempted, deliver us from the evil,” or, as some render it, and very correctly, too, “Deliver us from the Evil One.” First, we pray that we may not be tempted at all and then, as a supplement to that prayer, yielding the whole matter to Divine wisdom, “If it is necessary for our manhood, for our growth in grace, for the verification of our graces and for God’s glory, that we should be tempted, Lord, deliver us from the evil, and especially deliver us from the impersonation of evil, the Evil One!”
It may be a long time, when you are suffering from his attacks, before he will hold his hand, for he will try all that he possibly can to lead you into evil and to destroy the grace that is in you. Still, he does come to an end with his temptations sooner than he desires, for, as God has said to the mighty sea, “Until this time shall you come, but no further; and here shall your proud waves be stayed” (Job 38:11) – and so says He to the devil. When He permitted Satan to try the graces of Job and to prove his sincerity, He let him go just so far, but no farther. And when he asked for a further stretch of power, still there was a limit. There is always a limit to Satan’s power and when he reaches that point, he will be pulled up short – he can do no more. You are never so in the hands of Satan as to be out of the hands of God. You are never so tempted, if you are a believer, that there is not a way of escape for you!
“When the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from Him.” When the Lord had foiled him at every point – had met every temptation with a text of Holy Scripture and had proved His own determination to hold fast His integrity and not let it go – it was not till then that the enemy departed. O brothers and sisters, if you can hold out, if you can stand against this and then against that; if you are protected against frowns and protected against flatteries; if you are protected against prosperity and against adversity; if you are protected against sly insinuations and open attacks – when you have won the day, as by God’s grace you will do, even as your Master did, then the enemy will depart from you!
He leaves God’s people very quickly when he sees that they are sustained by superior grace. He hopes to catch them when grace is at a low ebb. If he can come upon them when faith is very weak, when hope’s eyes are dim, when love has grown cold – then he thinks that he will make an easy capture. But when we are filled with the Spirit as the Master was, (God grant that we may be), he looks us up and down and he presently leaves. Like an old pirate who hangs about on the lookout for merchant vessels, but if he meets with ships that have plenty of guns on board and hardy hands to give him a warm reception, he goes after some other craft not quite so well able to resist his assaults. O brothers and sisters, be not merely Christians, only barely Christians, with just enough grace to let you see your imperfections, but pray to God to give you mighty grace, that you may “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10), so that, after the devil has tested you and found that the Lord is with you, that God dwells in you, then you may expect that, as it was with your Master, so it will be with you – Satan will leave you.
C H SPURGEON
(Contd in Part 2.)