The Bible tells us that Jesus is one “who in every respect has been tempted as we are” (Hebrews 4:16). James (1:14) defines temptation for us as experiencing a strong pull to do something which is contrary to God’s will, being “lured and enticed” by the appeal of what Satan is dangling in front of us. So Jesus knows what it’s like to feel that tug and to overcome it. And if we follow his example, we can too.
These temptations are the “flaming arrows” of which Paul speaks in Ephesians 6. While Satan does not have the capacity to read our minds, he can project his thoughts into our minds, thoughts that pull us away from God and his will.
How do we overcome temptation? In two ways: with the Word of God and the name of Jesus.
When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, he didn’t dialogue with Satan, he didn’t reason with Satan, he didn’t argue with him, he simply declared to him the word of God. In each of the three temptations recorded for us in Matthew 4 and Luke 4, Jesus quoted Scripture, word for word.
When tempted to turn stones into bread, to satisfy his hunger, he quoted Scripture. “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
When he was tempted to test God by throwing himself from the pinnacle of the temple, he quoted Scripture. “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”
And when he was tempted to shortcircuit the path to dominion by worshipping Satan, he quoted Scripture. “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”
Finally, Jesus took authority over Satan directly and ordered him to leave his presence. “Be gone, Satan!” We are told that the devil left him, just as James promises us. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
It is incumbent upon us, if we wish to stand strong against temptation, to arm ourselves with the Word of God and become familiar with the spiritual authority that is found in the name of Jesus.
We must, as Jesus did, memorize Scripture and store it up in our mind and heart so it is ready at a moment’s notice when we are ambushed by Satan. This means we must read and ponder the Word itself, not just devotions about the Word. It is the Word of God that enables us to go on offense spiritually, and drive Satan from our presence. It is, as Paul tells us, the sword of the Spirit, the only offensive weapon in our spiritual suit of armor. We need to keep it sharpened and polished so that we can draw it from the scabbard whenever we need to.
And we must also learn to use the authority found in the name of Jesus to resist the devil and to take authority over him. Since Satan cannot read our thoughts - only God can do that - we must rebuke him verbally as Jesus did.
Remember that Jesus also rebuked Satan orally when he sought to tempt him through Peter. “Get behind me, Satan,” said Jesus, speaking to the devil and not to Peter. Again Satan left. We must learn to rebuke Satan verbally in the name of Jesus. Satan must in the end yield to a command that is uttered in that all-powerful name.
Satan, in the end, has no power over either the Word of God or the name of Jesus. If we learn to use the Word of God and the name of Jesus, he will have no power over us. Armor up!