Leftover pizza is the one thing that will never go bad in our house. Sure, it might be tucked away in aluminum foil far back in the recesses of the fridge. But we know it’s there, calling out to us.
We’ll eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or maybe a late night snack. I literally had a slice of pepperoni and black olive just before writing this post. I wasn’t hungry, but I ate it anyway. Why? Because it was there. And it was delicious.
|Alberto G. (CC)|
If I have such a hard time resisting cold, leftover pizza, I wonder what it was like for Jesus in the wilderness when he underwent temptation. At forty days without food, He was at the weakest he could be.
Then came Satan.
And it wasn’t just with food that he tested Jesus. In all, the enemy administered three tests he thought for sure would ensnare the would-be messiah.
These three tests are tests we all face on some scale or another. And they are essential tests God uses to transform our hearts.
“If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Matt. 4:3
Satan hit Jesus right at the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid.
Imagine abstaining from food for over a month, yet having the ability to conjure bread from rocks. I don’t think I would have lasted two days. True, bread was a very real need, but Jesus’ response was wise:
Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. Matt. 4:4
Jesus knew that even though He was hungry, God is the sustainer of life.
If you’re reading this, it means you have an internet accessible device. Which means you probably don’t miss many meals. In the West, many of us are blessed with never having to deal with physiological needs thanks to the affluence of our culture. But this blessing is also a curse because it robs you of enduring the first test that will change your heart.
But there is a solution, and it’s called fasting.
Voluntarily abstaining from food helps you realize how true Jesus’ words were—that God sustains us. It helps bring into focus the spiritual, and it helps you empathize with those around the world who do not always have a meal to eat.
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. Matt. 4:5-6
Pride means putting yourself ahead of God. Satan tried to get Jesus to test His father’s will by jumping from the top of the temple for all of Jerusalem to see. But doing so would thwart the ministry God had in store for Jesus.
You will encounter tests of pride when it comes to obedience. God’s wants you to do something His way, you want to do it yours.
“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Matt. 4:9
Satan’s last shot was to tempt Jesus with wealth and the power that comes with it.
If physical needs and pride don’t get you, perhaps the promise of wealth will. Wealth means power, security, pleasure. But these things apart from God are mirages. Like Paul wrote to Timothy, "Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Tim. 6:10b).
This test is essential because, as Jesus said, “You cannot serve both god and money” (Matt. 6:24). Standing up to the lust of money means drawing nearer to God.
These three tests are essential in transforming your heart to be like God’s. So when you encounter them, realize they are there for a reason. Identify them, fight against them, that you might pass and become more like your maker.
Sign up now to get notified of new blog posts as well as my exclusive monthly newsletter. All for free! Did I mention I'll throw in a free ebook? Beat Burnout God's Way: a 2 Step Guide. Click here to enter your email address.