Let’s dive right back into Luke 4:1-11. Here’s Jesus in the desert. I want to read through verse 11:
“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit returned from the River Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert where for 40 days, He was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end, He was hungry” (vv. 1-2).
So there’s a physical pressure.
And then: “The devil said to Him, if you’re the Son of God, tell the stone to become bread.” Jesus answered: “It is written that man does not live by bread alone” (vv. 3-4).
There’s the first temptation: Indulge in the flesh.
Now fast-forward to today. Is the temptation the same? Hey, you’re in this situation. You’re isolated. You have a need—physically—to gratify yourself. Feels good. Feel the urge. There you go. Same thing.
There is physical pressure. Isolation. Then there’s temptation. Finally, there’s a test. Jesus survived it by being full of the Holy Spirit and full of the Word of God.
Do you want to know how you survive pressure and temptation? There are two keys.
First, be full of the Holy Spirit and be full of the Word of God.
Second, let’s center in on verse 5. The devil led Him up to a high place and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and said: “I will give you all their authority and splendor for it has been given to me and I can give it to anyone I want to, if you worship me.”
Jesus replied: “It is written, worship only your God and Him only.”
First was the lust of the flesh. Then there’s the pride of the eyes—or the boastful pride of life. There’s pressure, then temptation. The first one was indulging. The second one was temptation: I will elevate you. I’ll move you from here to there. You can pursue this fantasy of power. It’s a false way of being validated.
Next, Luke 4:9 says: “The devil led Him to Jerusalem and let Him stand on the highest point of the Temple, and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here because it is written that He will command his angels concerning you and will guard you carefully, they will lift you up in their hands so that you will not strike your foot against the stone.’”
Jesus answered, “It says do not put the Lord your God to the test.”
When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
Is the devil going to stop tempting you? When does he come—when you are strong or when you are weak? Weak, of course!
When a man is weak, he is full of negative emotions. Satan can lie and tempt you when you are full of negative emotions. What does that mean? It’s right after an argument with your spouse, after a conflict, after your boss does something to take away your financial future or fire you or whatever. He’s not going to come when you are riding high. He’s going to come when you are vulnerable.
When pressure comes, it is a test of God and also can be hijacked as an opportunity for Satan to tempt you. Under that pressure, you may be vulnerable. God uses your availability to test you. Satan uses it to tempt you. God uses it to develop. Satan uses it to destroy.
There’s a second perspective on pressure. What do diamonds and pearls need in order to become diamonds and pearls? You dive to great depths because inside that little clam, sand is making a pearl. But you need the pressure at those depths to make the pearl out of sand. Diamonds sometimes take centuries of heat and pressure to form. Then we polish them, and they become something beautiful.
Strength and value require a process to form in us as well. That is what God is doing with the pressures in your life. It’s a process. He is turning you from a boy into a man—something of value, something of worth, something of dignity.
Satan, however, tells you not to hang around for the process because the process is uncomfortable. He wants you to bail. Leave the process of relationship, he says. But don’t buy into that lie. Satan says, Leave the process. It takes too long. It’s way too hard. Look at how it makes you feel. Go over here and pursue the fantasy. Escape the pressure.
God wants to mature you and make you the person He created you to be. To make you into that pearl of a guy that has tremendous value.
God is interested in the process. Look at any man of God who is worth anything in the Bible. He took Abraham through it. He took Joseph through it. He took David through it.
Why? Because He is forging steel, creating a strong man.
You can’t create a strong man by avoiding pressure, tests, trials and difficulties. A man has to face them and go through them.
The good news is that God wants to go through them with you, to use these tests in your life and develop something that wasn’t there before: a stronger man, a more valuable man, a man who is worth more after the process.
Satan knows this and will tell you to bail on the process. He’ll try to get you to skip to the product. Men just want the bottom line: “Give me the bottom line. Don’t tell me what to do. I want to pole-vault over the process and get right to the product. I want to be strong and powerful. I want to have status. I want to enjoy everything.” But we don’t want to earn it. This is a huge battle.
Pressure comes. God uses it to test. Satan uses it to tempt. God uses it to develop. Satan uses it to destroy.
How do you lose? By bailing out on God’s process in your life.
Note: This is the third in a series of articles titled Fantasy Island, Part 2, where Kenny Luck takes a closer look at the emotional aspects of fantasy. He also discusses God’s will for men like you who want to grow in maturity, truth and reality, versus Satan’s plan to replace your reality with his fantasy, escapism and unreality. Part 1 Part 2
Kenny Luck is the founder of Every Man Ministries and the men’s pastor at Saddleback Church. His 20th book, Sleeping Giant: No Movement of God Without Men of God, is the proven blueprint for men’s ministries and was recently released through B&H Publishing. Watch and read more of Kenny’s teaching at EveryManMinistries.com. Follow Every Man Ministries now on Facebook, Twitter (@everymm) and YouTube.