Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” -Luke 3:21-22
Was there something about Jesus’ baptism in Luke 3 that helped him resist the temptation he faced in Luke 4? I believe the answer is yes. But I do not believe the answer is found in the ceremony or experience. Rather, I think it was the expression of the Father, “You are my beloved Son, with You I am well pleased (3:22).”
Hold onto that thought and go with me to Narnia for a moment. In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Edmund wrestles with a large amount of insecurity—due to his parents being in harm’s way because of war, being displaced from his home, and rivalry with his stronger, older brother Peter. From the moment he steps foot on Narnian soil, he is a king. But he doesn’t know it.
When he meets the White Witch, she offers to make him a prince if he will do her bidding. As an insecure boy far from home, it sounded like a great offer. As one of the four ancient kings prophesied and appointed by Aslan, it should have sounded like a really lousy offer. But Edmund did not know who he was, so he took it.
Most temptation boils down to Satan offering us what we already have in Christ. Satan is always willing to sell us what we already possess at a “steal of price.” If we do not know who we really are, we’ll take the deal.
Return to the temptation account of Luke 4 now.
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’” And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
Notice that Jesus does not doubt who He is and, therefore, does not accept the short cuts (which are actually radical redefinitions) to attain what is already His. As you seek to allow your identity as a child of God (Eph. 5:1) to serve as a protection in temptation, use these four questions to guide you.
Question #1: How do you define who you are? Do you define yourself by a certain relationship, ability, failure, event, dream, or occupation?
Question #2: How does your relationship with God, as His adopted and loved child, change your sense of identity? Did you view your baptism as a watershed moment in your life that forever changed who you are?
Question #3: What insecurities or areas of pride does Satan use to tempt you or create a context of temptation for you?
Question #4: In those times of temptation, how is Satan offering you something you already have in Christ?
Allow these questions to enable you to approach moments of temptation with greater confidence; not in yourself but in the superior provision of God for anything you will face. When faced with these questions, temptation leads us to worship rather than sin.
When we see this, the fear/shame that we often feel at the moment of temptation (which is not sin) dissipates, because we now have a map to move from failure to worship. As we compare the best of what Satan has to offer with who we already are and what we already have in Christ, the response should be laughter. In which case, Satan is the one who slinks away in shame and embarrassment, not the child of God.