And yet consider still more closely. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.“‘Weak from the hunger following upon forty days of fasting, the devil suggested that He should strengthen Himself with bread. His reply, “It is written,” is a revelation of the true sources of strength. The strength of manhood does not lie in the assertion of rights, but in submission to the will of God. Mark well how that answer of the perfect One drags into light the false philosophy of evil, which the fallen race has universally accepted. The most applauded position that man takes is that in which he declares, I drove my manhood by the assertion of my rights; but this perfect Man declares that the strength of manhood lies in the absolute abandonment of His will to the will of God, that being the only right He possesses.
In the last analysis the argument of the devil had been a presupposition that all man needed for his sustenance was food for his physical life. That unwarrantable assumption Christ answered by declaring that no man’s whole life can be fed by bread that perishes. He needs more, that his spirit shall be fed, and its strength sustained by feeding upon the word proceeding from the mouth of God, and its safety ensured by abiding within the will of God.
G. Campbell Morgan, The Crises of Christ (170-171). The applauded philosophy was set forth well by Milton in Satan’s speech found in Book I of Paradise Lost:
Here at least
We shall be free; th’ Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence: [ 260 ]
Here we may reign secure, and in my choyce
To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav’n.