God’s ultimate plan for us is salvation through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Before Jesus carried out this divine mission, He fasted to prepare Himself. The devil stood in His way by tempting Him. God has His divine plan for each of us. But just as he tempted Jesus, Satan will always try hard to tempt us so that we do not or will not live out God’s plan for us.
The three aspects of Satan’s temptation are not new. He has been doing that since time immemorial. He tempted Adam and Eve according to these three aspects; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 Jn. 2:16). Our first parents succumbed to the serpent’s solicitation (Gen. 3:1-6) but Jesus did not (Lk. 4:1-13).
“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it” (Gen. 3:6).
“For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world” (1 Jn. 2:16).
After fasting for forty days, nothing could be more inviting than food, so it would have been understandable if Jesus had changed stones into bread at that time (Lk 4:2-3) to satisfy His hunger, but He did not. This was Satan’s tactic that targeted the aspect of the lust of the flesh. When John mentions the lust of the flesh, he is referring to any desire of man that rebels against God. It is something that is shaped by man’s own impulses but not by the Spirit of God.
The second aspect that Satan targeted was the pride of life; all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour would be given to Jesus (Lk 4:5-7). Pride is a sense of self-reliance and self-sufficiency. We pride ourselves in relying on our own values, being self-assured in life and not relying on God. We see things only in our own light rather than in God’s light.
The third aspect that Satan targeted was the lust of the eyes: “Throw yourself down from the highest point of the temple … angels will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone” (Lk. 4:9-11). It is the temptation for one to be popular and to win great praise. By throwing Himself down, and with the angels lifting Him up, and thus preventing His foot from being struck against any stone was the temptation to be popular, to win great praise.
Studying Luke 4:1-13 alongside Genesis 3:6 and 1 John 2:16 helps us recognise these three aspects of Satan’s temptation. This recognition helps us avoid falling into Satan’s trap. In this regard, Jesus teaches us, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41).