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IV. The Devil’s Temptation to Distrust

Now we are to consider the diversity and order of the temptations, & then will we handle them particularly. And first we are to note, that though there are but these three recorded, yet he endured divers [various] others. His whole life was full of temptations, as may appear by Luke 22. 28. It is said Luke 4. 2. that he was tempted forty days of the Devil whereas these three Temptations here set down, were not till after the end of forty days. These only are mentioned, but there were other not written, as divers of his miracles are unwritten. John 20:31. Only so much was written, as was expedient.[1]

These three are a brief abridgement of all his Temptation.[2] As it is true that Paul saith, that Christ resembled Adam, and was made a quickening spirit, as Adam was a living soul, 1. Cor. 15. 45.[3] And the bringing of the Children of Israel out of Egypt, by being called out of Egypt, Matt. 2. 15.[4] So may Christ and Adam be compared in these three temptations. For they both were tempted with concupiscence [strong, sinful desire] of the flesh, concupiscence of the eye, & pride of life, 1. John 2. 16.[5]

In Adam, the Devil first brought him into a concept, that God envied his good, and of purpose kept him hood-winked, least he should see his good,[6] as we see falconers put hoods over hawks’ eyes, to make them more quiet & ruly [subject to being ruled]. Secondly, he lulls him on to a proud conceit [thought] of himself, by persuading him, that by eating he should be like God. Thirdly he shows the fruit, which was pleasant. So in Christs temptation first, he would have brought him to murmur against God: secondly to presume: & thirdly to commit idolatry[7], all which are set down.[8]

And under these three heads come all temptations, Numb. 14. & 21. and Exod. 32.

To some of these extremes will the Devil seek to drive one.

First, by distrust he will seek to drive us to use unlawful means, for the obtaining of necessary things, as bread is when a man is hungry. Or if we be in no such want, that that temptation cannot take place, then (through superfluity) he will tempt s to wanton and unnecessary desires, as to throw ourselves down, that the Angels may take us up: and having prevailed so far, then he carries us to the Devil and all. All this will I give thee, there is his All: Fall down and worship me, there is the Devil with it: so (that in this respect) may it well be said, that The way of a Serpent is over a stone, Proverb. 30. 19. He goes so slyly, that a man sees him in, before he can tell what way, or how he got in. First he wraps himself in necessity, and thereby winds himself in unperceived then he brings us to make riches our God.

Now let us see his Darts. The first is, of making stones bread. This may well be called the hungry temptation. The stream of the Doctors[9], make Adam’s offence the sin of gluttony: but Bucer[10] thinks, that this temptation is rather to be referred to distrust and despair. There is small likelihood, that one should sin in gluttony by eating bread only. The Devil’s desire was only, that the stones might be turned into bread, and that after so long a Fast: and then if the temptation had been to gluttony, Christ’s answer had been nothing to the purpose; the Devil might well have replied against the insufficiency of it. For gluttony is to be answered by a text willing sobriety, whereas this text which Christ answers by, contains rather an assertion of Gods’ providence: and therefore, our Savior should have seemed very unskillful in defending himself. The temptation therefore is to distrust.[11]

This stands well with the Devil’s cunning in fight: for by this he shows first even at the throat, and at that which is the life of a Christian: to wit his faith; as a man would say, even at that which overcomes the world, 1. John 5. 5.[12] He tempted him to such a distrust, as was in the Israelites, Ex. 17 7[13]. when they asked if God were with them or no.

So, he made Adam think, God cared not for him: so here the Devil premises a doubt to shake his faith, wherein Christ made no doubt, Si filius Dei es. [If you are the Son of God.][14]

Indeed, you heard a voice say, you were the beloved Son of God, but are you so indeed? or was it not rather a delusion?[15] You see you are almost starved for want of bread: well, would God have suffered you so to be if you had been his Filius dilectus [beloved Son]? No, you are some hunger-starved child. So, Luke 22. 3. Christ prayed that Peter’s faith might not fail.[16] It was that the Devil shot at. He is a roaring lion seeking to devour us, whom we must resist by faith, 1. Pet. 5. 8.[17]

It is our faith that he aim at 1. Thess. 3. 5.[18] For having overthrown that, disobedience soon will follow. Having abolished the stablisher of the Law, Roman. 3. 31. the breach of the Law must needs [by logical necessity] follow. He hath then fit time to set us a work, about making stones into bread, that is, to get our living by unlawful means. First, shipwreck of faith, then of obedience.[19]

The Devil here seeing him in great want and hunger, would thereby bring in doubt, that he was not the Son of God, which is not a good argument.[20] For whether we respect the natural tokens of God’s favor, we see they happen not to the wisest and men of best and greatest knowledge, as appears in the ninth chap. of Eccl. vers. 11 or the supernatural favor of God, we shall see Abraham forced to fly his country into Egypt for famine, Gen, 10. 12. so did Isaac, Gen. 26. 1. & Iacob likewise was in the same distress, Gen. 43. 1.[21] Notwithstanding that God was called The God of Abraham, Isaack and Jacob[22]; yet were they all three like to be hunger-starved. Yea, not only so, but for their faith, many were burned and stoned, of whom the world was not worthy, Heb. 11. 37.[23] So fared it with the Apostles, they were hungy, naked, and a thirst, 1. Cor. 4. 11.[24] But what do we speak of the adopted sons of God, when as his own natural Son suffered as much, nay, far more?[25] Here we se he was hungry, also he was wearied with travail and fain [desirous] to rest. John4. 6.[26] he had no house to hide his head in, whereas foxes have holes.[27]

If thou be the Son of God.

The heathens have observed, that in rhetoric it is a point of chiefest cunning, when you would out-face a man, or importune him to do a thing, to press & urge him with that, which he will not, or cannot for shame deny to be in himself: as by saying; If you have any wit, then you will do thus and thus: if you be an honest man or a good fellow, do this[28]. So here the Devil (not being to learn any point of subtlety[29]) comes to our Savior, saying, If thou be the Son of God, (as it may be doubted, you being in this case) then, make these stones bread. No, no, it follows not: a man may be the Son of God, and not shw it by any such art.[30] So when Pilate asked, who accused Christ? They [the ones bringing the accusation against Jesus] answered, If he had not been a malefactor, we would not have brought him before thee, John 18. 30. They were jolly grave men [very serious men], it was a flat flattery: and in John 21. 23.[31] there is the like. This ought to put us in mind, when we are tempted in like manner, that we take heed we be not out-faced.[32]

In the matter itself we are to consider these points: First the Devil sets it down for a ground, that (follow what will) bread must needs be had. [The Devil asserts: You must have bread.]

Therefore, Christ first closes with him[33], Admit he had bread, were he then safe?[34] No, We live not by bread only: so that bread is not of absolute necessity. Well, what follows of that? Bread you must needs have, you see your want [lack], God has left off to provide for you. Then comes the conclusion, Therefore, shift for your self [take are of yourself] as well as you can.[35]

First, he solicits us to a mutinous repining within ourselves, as Heb. 3. 8. Harden not your hearts, as in the day of temptation, whereby he forces us to break out into such like conceits [thoughts], as Psalm. 116. 11. I said in my distresse, that all men be liars: and Psalm. 31. 22. I said in my hast, I am cast off. Thus closely he distrusted God, in saying, his Prophets prophecy loes, till at last, we even open our mouths against God himself, and say, This evil commeth from the Lord, shall I attend on the Lord any longer? 2. Booke of Kings, chapter 6. and verse 33. Hunger and shame is all we shall get at God’s hands.[36] And so having cast off God, betake themselves to some other patron, & then the Devil is fittest for their turn.

For when we are fallen out with one, it is best serving his enemy, and to retain to the contrary faction.[37] Then we seek a familiar (with Saul) to answer us, 1. Sam. 28. 7.[38] But what did the Devil tell him? Did he bring comfort with him? No, he tells him, that tomorrow he & his sons should dye. So here does the Devil bring a stone with him. What Father (says Christ) if his Sonne aske him bread, would give him a stone? Matthew the seventh chapter and in the ninth verse:[39] yet the Devil does so; Christ was hungry, and the Devil shows him stones.

Here is the Devil’s comfort, here be stones for thee, if thou canst devise any way to make these stones bread, thou art well; whereas we do not use to make bread of stones, but of wheat[40], to work it with the sweat of our brows. To get it so, we learn Gen. 3. 19.

By extortion and usury we may make stones into bread, that is the Devil’s Alchemistry: or happily we may make bread of nothing, when a man gets a thing by another’s oversight, Gen. 43. 12. Or else, what and if we can overreach our brother in subtilty, and go beyond him with a trick of wit or cunning? Let no man defraud or oppress his brother in any matter: for the Lord is avenged of all such, 1. Thess. 4.6. The one is called The bread of violence and oppression, Proverbs 4. 17. The other, The bread of deceit.[41]

They are indeed both made of stones, for they still retain their former property, as the event will declare. For though in the beginning such bread be pleasant, Proverb. 20. 17. yet after his mouth is but filled with gravel, Proverb. 20. 17. After which will consequently follow, gnashing of teeth.[42]


This section of the sermon begins to consider the first temptation.

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”” (Matthew 4:1–4, ESV)

We must not think that these were the only temptations which Jesus ever faced. But there are representative temptations. The temptations follow in a pattern which was laid down in the Garden when the Serpent tempted Eve. First, there is the temptation to distrust God. Second, there is the temptation to trust yourself. Third, there is the temptation to full idolatry.

Thus, in the attack, the Devil must begin by striking at our faith.  He does this with Christ by first asking him, are you really the Son of God. That voice you thought you heard 40 days ago? Did you really hear anything? Really? If you are the Son of God, then why are you here in the desert starving to death?

You cannot really trust God to take care of you. That is for certain. But I’ll tell you what, if you are really the Son of God you could certainly do something little like turning these stones into bread.

If Jesus had made bread, would the Devil have left him alone? “Oh, you are the Son of God, my bad.” No. The Devil would have continued to press Jesus to distrust God. The attack at each step was an attack upon trust in God. That is the nature of temptation. It attacks at faith: God is not to be trusted. You can only trust yourself.

This is the critical element of this section of the sermon: Temptation first comes at faith. It seeks to dislodge us from God. The response must be then to focus on our trust of God.

Jesus saw through the temptation and knew what the Devil aimed at: His answer, Man shall live by what God says.

Andrews then turns the matter around and looks at the Devil’s temptation the other direction. The Devil comes to us when we are hungry and he only offers us stones. He says, see if you can eat that? He is not seeking to free us, but to ruin us.

What is the Devil’s means of getting bread? It is not farming and waiting and making bread. It is stealing, oppression, fraud. If we eat such bread, it will turn to gravel in our mouths.

[1] “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30–31, ESV)

[2] The three temptations of Satan which are recorded should be understood as a sort of summary of all the temptations Christ suffered.

[3] “So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:42–49, ESV)

[4] This text has provoked a great deal of confusion over time. Here is an excellent discussion of this text and how Matthew is in fact using Hosea. https://www.gracechurch.org/sermons/10928

[5] “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.” (1 John 2:15–16, ESV)

[6] The Devil was the first to trick (hoodwink) Adam into believing that God did not want Adam to have good. The Devil was thus (falsely) offering Adam sight.

[7] “Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.”” (1 Corinthians 10:5–7, ESV)

[8] The temptation of Christ follows the same pattern as took place in the Garden. The first move was to assert that God was withholding some good thing. To Eve, the Serpent says that God is withholding the fruit because God does not want Eve to know good and evil. To Christ, the Devil says God is withholding food from you, why don’t you make bread? Second, the Serpent tells Eve you should eat the fruit, it won’t hurt you. It will make you better. To Christ he says, throw yourself down from the temple. You won’t be hurt. Third, the Serpent bring Eve to actually rebel against God. To Christ, the Devil says, just worship me.

[9] Most prior theologians.

[10] Martin Bucer, protestant theologian, 1491 – 1551.

[11] The majority of theologians speak of the temptation to make bread being a temptation to gluttony. But that does not make sense. Why offer bread if it was gluttony. Moreover, the response to a temptation to gluttony is sober self-control. But Jesus does not speak about self-control. Instead, the temptation was to despair of God’s oversight of the world, “Why isn’t God taking better care of you?” Jesus goes to his trust in God, not to he has self-control over hunger.

[12] “Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:5, ESV)

[13] “And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”” (Exodus 17:7, ESV)  The people became discontent and did not trust the Lord. And so they asked, Is the Lord among us?

[14] The Devil sought to sway Christ’s faith by saying, Well if you are really the Son of God.

[15] Andrews here makes an interesting observation. When Jesus came up from being baptism a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son.” The observation by Andrews takes the humanity of Jesus seriously. Jesus has spent an impossible time alone in the wilderness. He must be near physical death. The comparison to Moses does not even seem appropriate at this level, because was apparently being supernaturally maintained. This fast level Jesus weak and hungry. Matt. 4:2. At that point, one might begin to wonder, did I really hear that voice?

[16] ““Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat,” (Luke 22:31, ESV)

[17] “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” (1 Peter 5:8–9, ESV)

[18] “For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.” (1 Thessalonians 3:5, ESV)

[19] If the Devil can cause us to doubt God, our obedience will fail.

[20] The Devil’s argument is not based upon a sound premise. We cannot tell whether we are God’s child merely by looking at our present physical circumstances. Sometimes the most wicked person has a long, profitable life; and the most faithful child becomes a martyr.

[21] Abraham and Isaac each had to flee the land due to famine. Jacob had to flee the potential violence of his brother. By looking at merely their circumstances, one could not necessarily conclude that they were favored by God.

[22] “And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.” (Exodus 3:6, ESV)

[23] “They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11:37–40, ESV)

[24] “To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless,” (1 Corinthians 4:11, ESV)

[25] We are all children of God by adopted. Jesus is Son of God by nature.

[26] “Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.” (John 4:6, ESV)

[27] “And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”” (Matthew 8:20, ESV)

[28] It is a useful rhetorical trick to press someone to do something which it appears he must be obligated to do or he will lose his reputation. This permits you to gain a degree of control over the other person.

[29] There is no trick which the Devil does not know.

[30] The Devil, If you were really the Son of God, then you could turn these stones into bread. But being made to play tricks for the Devil is not necessary for Jesus to be the Son of God.

[31] “So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”” (John 21:23, ESV)

[32] We should be careful and wise not to respond to every demand of a fool or one who is trying to manipulate us.

[33] Christ engages him in battle.

[34] Christ sees the trap: If he makes the bread, will the Devil leave him alone and admit that he is the Son of God? No. Jesus sees the trap as is shown by his response.

[35] The Devil says, You need bread. God is not going to help you. You have better help yourself. This will then lead to discontent. The examples in the next paragraph show instances of discontent.

[36] If we begin to distrust God, our complaints against God will grow into complete unbelief and rebellion.

[37] When grow to distrust God and rebel, we will turn to serve God’s enemy. It is interesting that turning to God’s enemy we often think ourselves to be serving no one.  As if we were sufficiently clever to avoid the Devil’s scheme.

[38] Since Saul could no longer receive a word from the Lord, he went to see a witch. “Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a medium at En-dor.”” (1 Samuel 28:7, ESV) Saul will learn that he and his son will die the next day.

[39] “For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?” (Matthew 7:8–10, ESV)

[40] Andrews here turns the Devil’s temptation on him and in quite an ironic and funny manner. You want help from the Devil? Here is how the Devil helps: You’re hungry? Here are some stones. See if you can make yourself something to eat. But we don’t eat stones. We make bread from wheat.

[41] The way in which the Devil provides bread is by alchemistry like bread into stones, or deceit, or oppression, or stealing.

[42] “Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel.” (Proverbs 20:17, ESV)