7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Matthew 4:7
After Jesus resisted the first temptation, Satan came back at him with a second temptation. This time Satan changes tactics and actually quotes scripture to Jesus. After taking Jesus to the top of the Temple he proposes a challenge, “If you are the son of God, throw yourself down from here”. Then quoting Psalm 91:11, 12 he says that angels will protect him.
The temptation strikes us as odd. What is so tempting about throwing yourself off the top of a building just so angels can rescue you? Actually the temptation has nothing to do with the thrill of base jumping. It is actually a temptation to doubt the word of God. It is Satan’s basic tactic that he uses time and again. Consider what Jesus has just gone through. When he was baptized by John the voice from heaven spoke and said, “This is my beloved Son”. Now Satan is trying to cast doubt in the mind of Jesus. “Are you really the Son of God?” “How can you be sure?” “Why don’t you jump off here and prove it since the Bible says he will protect his Son?”
In order to try to get Jesus to do something rash, Satan takes scripture out of context. Psalm 91 is about the protection of the Lord as you go about your regular, normal, daily life. It never considers that you might decide to take a flying leap of a building. So Jesus responds with a scripture quote of his own. “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test”. There is a difference between faith and presumption. Faith is about trusting what the Lord has said. Presumption is expecting God to do what we want for our own ends and desires. The frightening thing is that our presumption is often based on a faulty understanding of God’s Word.
Jesus demonstrates his unswerving trust in the words of the Father. He knows that he is the Son of God. That has been made clear in the declaration at his baptism. There is no need to do something to make God prove what he has already declared. Jesus also demonstrates, once again, how important it is to be well versed in scripture and why context is so critical to knowing the will of God. A sound knowledge of scripture comes in very handy when facing temptation. There is power in the Word of God to protect us from falling into the snares of the Devil. But you must be a student of the Word because Satan will twist it and seek to knock you off course.