After the third temptation, Jesus said to the devil, “Away from me!” Satan left. Would he have left had Jesus said this on the first temptation? Did Satan leave because Jesus said so, or because after three temptations he realized he wasn’t getting anywhere? I’d interested to hear your thoughts.

This is not just idle musing. It has to do with how we resist the devil. We are commanded to resist the devil and he will flee from us. (James 4) Exactly how do we do this?

The best example, of course, is the example of Jesus. Jesus resisted the devil by quoting appropriate Scripture. (Matt 4) We resist the devil by quoting scripture.

This makes sense. The devil is called the father of lies. We are told that when he lies he speaks his native language. It makes sense that we defeat him by speaking the truth to him. The best source of truth is scripture.

This raises an interesting question. Did Jesus know these verses because He was Jesus, or did he have to learn them the old fashioned way? I’d like to hear your thoughts. I think he learned them the old fashioned way. We are not sure. When the Bible says that Jesus emptied himself (Philippians 2) and became man, exactly how much of his god-ness did he empty himself of? We know he emptied himself of his omnipresence. He was only one place at one time. He seemed to retain considerable power. The incarnation is a bit of a mystery.

I think Jesus had to learn verses the old fashioned way because the Bible says he was tempted as we are. If He magically knew all of the Old Testament, it seems to me He wasn’t tempted as we are.

Here is my learning. You sometimes hear preachers pray along these lines: “I rebuke you, devil, in the name of Jesus: be gone from this place.” That is not how Jesus resisted the devil. Jesus spoke truth to the devil and wore him down.

Let’s take a real live example. One lie the devil has told me many times over the years is that if I will buy some shinny thing I will be happy. Don’t have the money? No worries; I have good credit and lots of credit cards.

Here is a verse I do well to have on the top of my mind: Luke 12:15 (NIV) “Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’”

I actually made a desktop wallpaper to keep this top of mind. Feel free to use it if it will help you. (Click on the graphic above or here.)

What insights do you have on resisting the devil?