How Did Satan Tempt Jesus? Bible Story with Lesson

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

How did Satan tempt Jesus in the wilderness?  Does Satan tempt us is similar ways?  What lessons can we learn from the way Satan tempted Jesus?

Does God Tempt Mankind?

The short answer is no, God does not ever tempt us.  We are carried off into sin by our own temptations and that is because we don’t resist them like Jesus did in the Wilderness when He was tempted by Satan.  James 1:13-15 clarifies this point, When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”  First of all, temptation comes to us all and when we don’t resist, we are “dragged way” by our own evil desires and then this desire takes root and results in sin.  Sin leads to death unless it is repented of (Romans 6:23).  James gives us the best advice when we are tempted by the Tempter, Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7b). Resisting the Devil is easier when wePut on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6:11).  We must be self-controlled and alert because the enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8) and this way we do not give the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:27).

Jesus in the Wilderness

No human has or ever will be tempted like Jesus was in the wilderness by Satan.  If we were, we could not have resisted Satan’s temptations.  Let me explain.  We are most tempted to sin when we are tired because we have little resistance to temptation.  We are also more vulnerable when we get hungry or when things do not go well.  Perhaps the greatest times of temptation come when we are successful.  The Bible is full of examples of those who had just achieved great success but then became prideful and thought more highly of themselves than they should.  These same times of vulnerability were used mightily by Satan when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness.  Here is what happened.  First of all Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness and it could have been with the express purpose of being tempted or tested (Matthew 4:1).

Tired and Hungry

After fasting forty days and forty nights, Jesus was hungry. The tempter came to Him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:2-4).  Here is one of those times when temptation can be greater; during times of hunger.  During times of hunger we are more prone to make bad decisions, snap at friends, family, and co-workers.  We can become easily irritated and say things that we will later regret.  We are also more tired when we are hungry or fasting.  Fatigue makes us inclined to have more accidents and the frequency of accidents increases when we are both hungry and tired.  What did Jesus do to thwart this temptation?  He quoted Scripture back to the Devil and reminded him (and us) that we need the “Bread of Life,” the Bible, to resist temptation.  David said that he hid God’s Word in his heart so that he might not sin (Psalm 119:11).

Testing God in Trials

Christians can not live by bread alone but must learn to live by every word of God and every word ...

Christians can not live by bread alone but must learn to live by every word of God and every word …

Next, the devil took Jesus to the holy city and had Him stand on the highest point of the temple.  If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test (Matthew 4:5-7).  God permitted Gideon to put down a fleece to test God but God is not pleased when we test Him.  During times of trials or tests, we are often prone to make bad decisions and tempted to take the easy way out.   Jesus told the Devil (and tells us) that we are not to put God to the test for He is not pleased when we do this.  It shows a lack of trust and faith in God when we overextend ourselves or try something that common sense tells us not to. Once again, Jesus quotes the Word of God to resist the temptation of the Devil.  Even the Devil can’t argue with God’s Word.  Did you notice that little word “if” that Satan used?  He said if you are the Son of God.  This is a blatant attempt at calling Jesus a liar.  Surely the Devil knew Who Jesus was and that Jesus is the Son of God.  What an insult from the enemy!  Satan used the same tactics in the Garden of Eden against Eve but with great success when He accused God of lying.  He told Eve,surely you won’t die if she took of the fruit from the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:4). We all know that Eve and all of her children since then have been dying, even though we now can inherit eternal life in Christ Who reversed the curse.

Pride and Short Cuts

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”  Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan!  For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him” (Matthew4:8-11).  Here, the Devil tempted Jesus to take a “short cut” and simply bow down to Satan and He could have the kingdoms of the world.  It was the Devil’s way of enticing Jesus in order to avoid Calvary but Jesus understood that without His going to the cross, we would all perish in our sins.  Jesus uses the Word of God again and quotes Scripture to thwart this temptation and actually rebukes the Devil this time.  When we see ways that are easier to get to our goals without actually doing things the right or honest way, we compromise and that is a powerful tool that the Enemy uses in tempting us to sin.  Pride is also a stronghold because who among us could resist ruling all of the world’s kingdoms for simply bowing down to Satan?  There is not one human among us, I believe, that could resist this.


Jesus used the Word of God to resist temptation and so should we. There is real power in the living Word of God, the Bible.  During times of hunger, severe tests or trials, or when pride hits us, we must fall down on our knees and pray to God and remember that the words of life are in the Good Book, the Holy Bible.  Satan used all of these to try and bring down Jesus Christ but he could not.  Jesus resisted temptation and He relied on the Word of God by quoting it and using it as an offensive weapon against spiritual attacks from the Enemy.  Can we do anything less than what Christ did to hinder the Devil’s temptations?  We would do well to notice that our greatest times of temptation will come when we are tired, hungry, going through a trial, have a chance for compromising our values, and are being too lifted up with pride.

It is no coincidence that just after this temptation in the wilderness, Jesus chose His disciples.  He had just fasted, He had just quoted the Word of God, and He had just overcome the greatest time of temptation that anyone has ever experienced.  This might explain why the Spirit (the Holy Spirit) led Him into the wilderness.  Jesus gives us all an example that we can overcome temptation by hiding God’s Word in our heart.  Christians can not live by bread alone but must learn to live by every word of God and every word of God is contained in the Bible.  Feed on that and you can more easily resist the Devil and he will flee from you.

Resources – New International Version Bible, The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblca, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide; YouTube “Ten Thousand Angels”.

Share this post:  |  |  |  | Twitter

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert January 30, 2013 at 8:19 am

Great article, Jack.

Your point about our greatest temptation coming when we are successful is such an important concept. When things are going our way we tend to let our guard down and become lax in our relationship with God.

One other point that comes from this is that the Word of God can be mis-interpreted in order to mislead. Satan quoted the Scripture, but his interpretation was not the interpretation God intended. We should be diligent to make sure that we do not take Scripture and manipulate it for our own selfish desires.

By God’s grace, and with His strength, we are able to resist temptation. Thanks for reminding us.

Yours in Christ,


Jack Wellman January 30, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Great point Robert. I believe that more cults have been started using one text, taken out of context, and made into a pretext. Thank you sir.


Abishai February 2, 2013 at 11:11 am

Very nice article sir. I would like to say with my own experience that when we are filled, when we have sufficient, when we fell safe, at that time we are most tempted. Satan uses his tools(which may be n any other form) to deceive us from following the path of God. But we have to stay conscious and watch our action and our heart from the trap of devil. Thanks Jack for this wonderful article.


Jack Wellman February 2, 2013 at 5:20 pm

Thank you so much Abishai. I loved your comment and it is so true. The Enemy wants to stop us and attack us but this is actually a good sign for he is not attacking those who are not making a difference for the Kingdom.


Hank Roedell February 2, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Yes, Jesus was God in the flesh of man. Jesus came to earth just like all other humans, ( from a woman’s womb ) He didn’t have rocket travel. Because He was God in the form of man, He suffered just like the rest of us. I pray God will take me to heaven, to His paradise, I hate this cursed world we live in. HankR60


Jack Wellman February 2, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Hank, please know that as long as you are drawing a breath, God is not done with you yet. Suffering is to be expected and actually refines us to be more like Christ as Peter said in 1 Peter 4:1-19:

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

“My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:2-3).

The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus. (Acts 5:41).

“Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12).

This reminds us of what Jesus did, as Peter taught us earlier. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly (1 Peter 2:23).

No one suffered like Christ did and He was completely innocent but He did this for US!


Pam February 2, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Can you tell me if this would be testing God? My sister beliefs God can do anything so much that her teeth are of really bad and they are falling out. She will not go to the dentist because she says God will fix the teeth. It’s been a good while and I do believe God can do anything he wishes but I also believe doctors and dentists are here to help us. Would that fall under testing God? I just experienced God’s love myself. I have MS. I am in a nursing home. I cannot move any of my body except my neck. I can feel everything and recently the pain in my hips got really bad. I was watching the 700 club and he said God was fixing someone’s hip. I started to play and the pain went away. That was two days ago and it has not returned. Praise Jesus. We were talking the other day and I asked her opinion and she got a little offended so I shut up. Thank you for the article.


Jack Wellman February 2, 2013 at 5:17 pm

Pam, let me say that the 700 Club teaches a health and wealth gospel and is NOT a reliable teaching source. During my pastoral training at seminary, they warned us of such false teachers. Have her come to this article and read it:

Jesus said in Luke 5:31, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” This is repeated in Matthew 9:12 and in Mark 2:17. Luke was one of the disciples and he was a doctor. Have her read this immediately. A person with badly decaying teach can get very, very sick up to being hospitalized. She is deceived by a deceptive program. Almost all theologians and pastors today and even seminary professors say that the 700 Club teaches false doctrines. It would NOT fall under testing. God expects us to get help when we need it. That is NOT a lack of faith. God will not heal those who refuse to help themselves.


Pam February 2, 2013 at 7:16 pm

It is me who was watching the 700 club when my pain in my hips left. My sister has a very strong faith but this is one thing we see differently. I have said the same words, “God helps them that help themselves.” That’s how I feel. I talked to my pastor today and he sort of feels the same way I do. I just don’t want to see her get sick.


Jack Wellman February 2, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Pam, I am so sorry for my misunderstanding an mistake. I apologize to you. I agree that we all hope she doesn’t get sick. I worry about that the poisons from decaying teeth can get into her bloodstream and make her very, very sick. Perhaps your pastor can talk to her about this?


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: