MATTHEW 4:1-4 NKJV Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”
At the time of this temptation the devil was familiar already with the nature of the flesh in man; however, he was not totally sure what was in Jesus who was different than any man Satan had met up to this point. The devil knew from previous experience with fallen man what was in him. He would just go to his spiritual fishing tackle and pull out the right bait to “hook” what he already knew was in there somewhere. Jesus was different in that He was not of Adam’s race; therefore, the nature of fallen man was not in Him. So the devil proceeds with the first phase of the temptation of Jesus by testing His appetite for natural or earthly things.
“Command that these stones become bread.”! “I know that you are hungry so feed the flesh”. This is the temptation that is easiest for the devil when looking for something to hook in Christians. He appeals to our appetite for the things of this life, cars, houses, lands, etc… Possessions are the greatest downfall of most unstable believers. So much time is given to the appropriation of this world’s goods. God says “Seek first the kingdom of God and all these ‘things’ shall be added unto you” (JOHN 6:33). We seem to be such pushovers when it comes to our creaturely comforts even the thought of having to give up such “unnecessary items” as the cable TV, sends some into grief and depression. I have observed that on the whole most Christians “live for the now” when the Bible says that “a man’s life does not consist of the abundance of the things which he possesses”. Why then do we rate our success and happiness according to these standards? Having more and better of everything at the expense of our spiritual life is the sin of covetousness. Please understand God is for people having plenty of everything. It’s only when we are satisfied with “so little” of Him in our lives that He is not pleased.
Maybe this was the first line of attack the devil used on Jesus because he was so accustomed to success when appealing to appetites of the flesh in man in the past. To his surprise, Jesus came back with “Man shall not live by bread alone (feeding the appetites of the fresh) but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”. Jesus was in this statement telling the devil that a real man or woman of God is more hungry for spiritual things than earthly. A born again person who is in fellowship with God will always be found with an ongoing hunger for more knowledge of the Word and anointing of the Spirit in their life. David, a man after God’s own heart was quoted as saying in regard to the Word of God “more to be desired are they than gold, yea than much fine gold” (PSALMS 19:10). Notice he says “more to be desired”. That means it is quite natural to desire “gold”, symbolizing this world’s riches, but to desire the Word of God (that is spiritual food for the man of God) “more” is natural for a true Christian.
When we are first saved we experience that hunger as Peter tells us in 1 PETER 2:2 “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word that ye may grow thereby”. In the natural, babes have tremendous appetites because they are growing rapidly, they must be continually fed in order to be healthy. Likewise, in the spiritual realm, a baby Christian is very hungry for more of God and should remain hungry as the normal experience of one who is growing and expending energy. Sometimes however, the devil comes along and appeals to our earthly appetites which we begin to indulge to the neglect of our spiritual needs resulting in a declining hunger for the things of God. Soon there are days and weeks of prayerlessness and Bible reading, infrequent church attendance and another casualty is about to be added to the list of fallen soldiers in God’s army. Jesus had a defense for this attack of the devil on His earthly appetites, and that was to keep a hunger for the things of God burning within at all times.
Hunger is one of man’s greatest drives and will cause him to do whatever is necessary to meet the need for nourishment before starvation sets in. Likewise, when we are truly hungry for God, we will do whatever is necessary in terms of time commitments and priorities, to satisfy our spiritual needs. If neglect has caused our spiritual hunger to wane, it can be cultivated again by renewing our taste for the Manna of Heaven. Just go to an anointed church service where the “Joy of the Lord” is present and the Word is being served piping hot from the altar of God. You will find yourself salivating for a taste of “Honey from the Rock” and a drink from the “fountain that never runs dry”. Sometimes just a trip into the prayer closet with the Bible will find the Holy Spirit waiting to stir up the gift that is within you. According to our text, Satan is going to test our spiritual appetite to see if he can get us to “fill up” on the things of this life. Let’s be ready for him like Jesus was by loving the Word of God more than our necessary food.
JOB 23:12 KJV Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.