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Matthew 4:5-7 Transcript

Matt. 4:5 ¶ Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple,
Matt. 4:6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written,
‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU’;
and
‘ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP,
SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’”

This is the second temptation. Notice again the word “if”. The devil started out saying to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God”. The devil was challenging Jesus. The devil was trying to get Jesus to prove that he was the Son of God. That was the devil’s trick to get Jesus to do something wrong.

We also see the word “written”. The devil quoted scripture to try and get Jesus to do something wrong. He quoted from Psalm 91.

Psa. 91:11 ¶ For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
To guard you in all your ways.
Psa. 91:12 They will bear you up in their hands,
That you do not strike your foot against a stone.

When we go back to Matthew we see that the devil fairly accurately quoted these verses. This was a legitimate promise. God did indeed have the ability to protect someone when they jumped off the pinnacle of the temple. Jesus certainly could have jumped and commanded the angels to come and rescue Him.

What would have been wrong for Jesus to jump since the Bible promises that the angels would come and rescue Him? The answer to that is in Jesus’ response to the devil.

Matt. 4:7 Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’”

Notice Jesus said, “on the other hand”. Jesus acknowledged that the devil had accurately quoted some scripture, but Jesus pointed out there was more than just those verses in the Bible. Then Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy

Deut. 6:16 ¶ “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested Him at Massah.

The reference to Massah is something that’s recorded in Exodus.

Ex. 17:3 But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses and said, “Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”

Ex. 17:7 He named the place Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD among us, or not?”

This happened as the Israelites were coming out of Egypt, out of slavery. They were in the wilderness and often ran out of food or water. At Massah they tested God. The way they tested was to ask if God was real and if He was there.

Going back to Matthew we see Jesus quoted the verse from Deuteronomy where it says to not test God. In other words, it’s a sin to test the Lord. It’s a sin to demand that God do something to prove that He exists.

That’s essentially what Satan was trying to get Jesus to do. The devil was telling Jesus to jump off the pinnacle and force God to rescue Him and prove that He had the ability to do that. That’s precisely what the Israelites had done and they were criticized for it.

There are some verses in the New Testament that indicate to us that we should not test God either. Let’s look at Acts 5.

Acts 5:1 ¶ But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property,

The story is this couple sold a piece of property and brought some of the money to the apostles. They pretended that they had brought all the money. They were confronted about that.

Acts 5:3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit

The problem wasn’t that they didn’t bring all the money. They had the right to withhold some of the money if they wanted to. The problem was they lied. They made it look like they were bringing all the money. So Ananias fell down dead. Later, his wife came in and Peter confronted her. She backed up the story that her husband had told which was not true.

Acts 5:9 Then Peter said to her, “Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out as well.”

We see here that Peter called them out for testing the Lord. This is an indication that we should not test the Lord. Ananias and Sapphira were put to death for testing the Lord.

Later in the book of Acts, we read about a time when some of the Jewish Christians insisted the Gentile Christians had to follow the Mosaic law in order to be saved. There was a council in Jerusalem to address this matter.

Acts 15:1 ¶ Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”

Acts 15:7 After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe.
Acts 15:8 “And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us;
Acts 15:9 and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.
Acts 15:10 “Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?

The result of this council in Jerusalem was that the Gentile Christians did not have to follow the Mosaic law in order to be saved. We see the word “test” was used in verse 10. The Jewish Christians were accused of putting God to the test. That’s an example to us that we should not be testing God.

What are the things we have to be careful about regarding our behavior as we seek to avoid testing God? As we saw in the Old Testament, we have to be careful we don’t get into a scenario where we try and force God to prove that He exists. If we demand that God perform a miracle in order to prove his existence, we are essentially testing God. Also, we see with Ananias and Sapphira that they tried to lie to God. We should not do that. In Acts 10 we see that the Jewish Christians were trying to demand more from the Gentile Christians than God or the Bible wanted from them. That was also considered a test. We have to be careful that we don’t add things to the Bible that are not there.

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“Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®,
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