1 John 3:8 (ESV)
8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
Amos 8:11-12, Biblical Counseling, Brief Directions Unto a Godly Life, Devil, Discipleship, godliness, Holiness, Job 13:15, John Owen, Luke 15:6, Matthew 24:12, Matthew 8:11-12, Paul Bayne, Paul Baynes, Psalm, Psalm 22:4-5, Psalm 27:1, Revelation 22;1, Revelation 2:2, Romans 5:1–5, Satan, Walk by Rule
The previous post in this series may be found here: https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/paul-baynes-brief-directions-unto-a-godly-life-chapter-nineteen/
CHAPTER TWENTY: HOW THE DEVIL HINDERS GODLINESS
The rules formally described, if they will be followed, to bring a Christian (though not to perfection in this life) yet to such an estate as he shall find rest for his soul daily, which others shall want. Yet because many dangers will be in the way that may hinder the weak, therefore it will be profitable to know the lets and hindrances which may hold us back from peace with God. By knowing such things, we may learn how to prevent them before they come and hurt us; or else how to rise from [from] them when we are fallen; or how to turn into the way when by occasion we are gone out of it.
Now the main and chief hindrance is the Devil, with all his force, subtlety, and malice, which combines with our evil hearts — so far if they are unreformed. And by means of both, all things in the world, though not in their own nature, but by them made occasions for our falling and offending God.
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.
WHAT ARE THE BEST PRESERVATIVES AGAINST MELANCHOLY AND OVERMUCH SORROW?
Lest perhaps such an one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.—2 Corinthians 2:7.
THE brevity of a sermon not allowing me time for any unnecessary work, I shall not stay to open the context…these three doctrines which I shall handle all together; namely,—
I. That sorrow, even for sin, may be overmuch.
II. That overmuch sorrow swalloweth one up.
III. Therefore it must be resisted and assuaged by necessary comfort, both by others, and by ourselves.
In handling these, I shall observe this order: I. I shall show you when sorrow is overmuch. II. How overmuch sorrow doth swallow a man up. III. What are the causes of it. IV. What is the cure.
I. It is too notorious that overmuch sorrow for sin is not the ordinary case of the world.
A. A stupid, blockish disposition is the common cause of men’s perdition. The plague of a hard heart and seared conscience keeps most from all due sense of sin, or danger, or misery, and of all the great and everlasting concerns of their guilty souls. A dead sleep in sin doth deprive most of the use of sense and understanding… But most men so little regard or feel them, that they have neither time nor heart to think of them as their concern, but hear of them as of some foreign land, where they have no interest, and which they never think to see.
B. Sorrow is overmuch when it is fed by a mistaken cause.—All is too much where none is due; and great sorrow is too much when the cause requireth but less.
Superstition always breeds such sorrows, when men make themselves religious duties which God never made them, and then come short in the performance of them.
C. Sorrow is overmuch when it hurteth and overwhelmeth nature itself, and destroyeth bodily health or understanding.—… God will have mercy, and not sacrifice; and he that would not have us kill or hurt our neighbour on pretence of religion, would not have us destroy or hurt ourselves; being bound to love our neighbour but as ourselves.
II. When sorrow swalloweth-up the sinner, it is overmuch, and to be restrained: as,
A. The passions of grief and trouble of mind do oft overthrow the sober and sound use of reason.—
B. Overmuch sorrow disableth a man to govern his thoughts; and ungoverned thoughts must needs be both sinful and very troublesome.—
C. Overmuch sorrow would swallow-up faith itself, and greatly hindereth its exercise.—
D. Overmuch sorrow yet more hindereth hope.—When men think that they do believe God’s word, and that his promises are all true to others, yet cannot they hope for the promised blessings to themselves. Hope is that grace by which a soul that believeth the gospel to be true, doth comfortably expect that the benefits promised shall be its own; it is an applying act. The first act of faith saith, “The gospel is true, which promiseth grace and glory through Christ.” The next act of faith saith, “I will trust my soul and all upon it, and take Christ for my Saviour and Help.” And then hope saith, “I hope for this salvation by him.” But melancholy, overwhelming sorrow and trouble, is as great an adversary to this hope, as water is to fire, or snow to heat. Despair is its very pulse and breath. Fain such would have hope, but they cannot. All their thoughts are suspicious and misgiving, and they can see nothing but danger and misery, and a helpless state. And when hope, which is the anchor of the soul, is gone, what wonder if they be continually tossed with storms?
E. Overmuch sorrow swalloweth-up all comfortable sense of the infinite goodness and love of God, and thereby hindereth the soul from loving him.—And in this it is an adversary to the very life of holiness. It is exceeding hard
F. And then it must needs follow, that this distemper is a false and injurious judge of all the word and works of God, and of all his mercies and corrections.—
G. And by this you see that it is an enemy to thankfulness.—It rather reproacheth God for his mercies, as if they were injuries, than giveth him any hearty thanks.
H. And by this you may see, that this distemper is quite contrary to the joy in the Holy Ghost.—
I. And all this showeth us, that this disease is much contrary to the very tenor of the gospel.—
J. Yea, it is a distemper which greatly advantageth Satan to cast-in blasphemous thoughts of God, as if he were bad, and a hater and destroyer even of such as fain would please him.—
K. This overmuch sorrow doth unfit men for all profitable meditation.—
L. And it is a distemper which maketh all sufferings more heavy
III. QUESTION. “What are the causes and cure of it?”
A. ANSWER I. With very many there is a great part of the CAUSE in distemper, weakness, and diseasedness of the body; and by it the soul is greatly disabled to any comfortable sense. But the more it ariseth from such natural necessity, it is the less sinful and less dangerous to the soul; but never the less troublesome, but the more.
Three diseases cause overmuch sorrow:—
1. Those that consist in such violent pain as natural strength is unable to bear. But this, being usually not very long, is not now to be chiefly spoken of.
2. A natural passionateness, and weakness of that reason that should quiet passion. …. Even many that fear God, and that have very sound understandings and quick wits, have almost no more power against troubling passions, anger and grief, but especially fear, than they have of any other persons.
3. But when the brain and imagination are crazed, and reason partly overthrown, by the disease called “melancholy,” this maketh the cure yet more difficult; for commonly it is the foresaid persons, whose natural temper is timorous and passionate, and apt to discontent and grief, who fall into crazedness and melancholy: and the conjunction of both, the natural temper and the disease, doth increase the misery. The signs of such diseasing melancholy, I have often elsewhere described. As,
a. The trouble and disquiet of the mind doth then become a settled habit.
b. If you convince them, that they have some evidences of sincerity, and that their fears are causeless and injurious to themselves and unto God, and they have nothing to say against it; yet either it takes off none of their trouble, or else it returneth the next day: for the cause remaineth in their bodily disease; quiet them a hundred times, and their fears a hundred times return.
c. Their misery is, that what they think they cannot choose but think.
d. And, when they are grown to this, usually they seem to feel something beside themselves, as it were, speaking in them, and saying this and that to them, and bidding them do this or that; and they will tell you, “Now it saith this or that,” and tell you when and what it hath said to them; and they will hardly believe how much of it is the disease of their own imagination.
e. In this case they are exceeding prone to think they have revelations. ….And many of them turn heretics,
f. But the sadder, better sort, feeling this talk and stir within them, are oft apt to be confident that they are possessed by the devil, or at least bewitched, of which I will say more anon.
g. And most of them are violently haunted with blasphemous injections, at which they tremble; and yet cannot keep them out of their minds. Either they are tempted and haunted to doubt of the scripture, or Christianity, or the life to come, or to think some ill of God; and oft-times they are strangely urged, as by something in them, to speak some blasphemous word of God, or to renounce him; and they tremble at the suggestion, and yet it still followeth them; and some poor souls yield to it, and say some bad word against God; and then, as soon as it is spoken, somewhat within them saith, “Now thy damnation is sealed! thou hast sinned against the Holy Ghost! there is no hope.”
h. When it is far gone, they are tempted to lay some law upon themselves,—never to speak more, or not to eat; and some of them have famished themselves to death.
i. And when it is far gone, they oft think that they have apparitions; and this and that likeness appeareth to them, especially lights in the night about their beds: and sometimes they are confident that they hear voices, and feel something touch or hurt them.
j. They fly from company, and can do nothing but sit alone and muse.
k. They cast off all business, and will not be brought to any diligent labour in their callings.
l. And when it cometh to extremity, they are weary of their lives, and strongly followed with temptations to make away [with] themselves; as if something within them were either urging them either to drown themselves, or cut their own throats, or hang themselves, or cast themselves headlong, which, alas! too many have done.
m. And if they escape this when it is ripe, they become quite distracted.
EXCURSUS on the Devil and “Possession”
1. And, first, we must know what is meant by Satan’s “possession” either of the body or the soul. It is not merely his local presence and abode in a man that is called his “possession;” for we know little of that, how far he is more present with a bad man than a good. … but he possesseth only the souls of the ungodly by predominant habits of unbelief and sensuality.
2. And so also he is permitted by God to inflict persecutions, and crosses, and ordinary diseases on the just; but when he is God’s executioner of extraordinary plagues, especially on the head, depriving men of sense and understanding, and working above the bare nature of the disease, this is called his “possession.”
3. And as most evil motions on the soul have Satan for their father, and our own hearts as the mothers, so most or many bodily diseases are by Satan, permitted by God, though there be causes of them also in the body itself. And when our own miscarriages, and humours, and the season, weather, and accidents may be causes, yet Satan may bythese be a superior cause. [He defines the word broadly to refer to affect by the Devil: which may range from temptation or physical affliction to possession “of the soul” – which seems similar to what is commonly meant by “possession”.] From all this it is easy to gather:—
a. That for Satan to possess the body is no certain sign of a graceless state; nor will this condemn the soul of any, if the soul itself be not possessed. …
b. Satan’s possession of an ungodly soul is the miserable case which is a thousand times worse than his possessing of the body. But every corruption or sin is not such a possession; for no man is perfect, without sin.
c. No sin proveth Satan’s damnable possession of a man, but that which he loveth more than he hateth it, and which he had rather keep than leave, and wilfully keepeth.
d. And this is matter of great comfort to such melancholy honest souls, if they have but understanding to receive it,—that of all men none love their sin which they groan under so little as they; yea, it is the heavy burden of their souls. …
e. And it is the devil’s way, if he can, to haunt those with troubling temptations whom he cannot overcome with alluring and damning temptations. As he raiseth storms of persecution against them without, as soon as they are escaping from his deceits; so doth he trouble them within, as far as God permitteth him. We deny not but Satan hath a great hand in the case of such melancholy persons; for,
i. His temptations caused the sin which God corrects them for.
ii. His execution usually is a cause of the distemper of the body.
iii. And as a tempter, he is the cause of the sinful and troublesome thoughts, and doubts, and fears, and passions which the melancholy causeth. The devil cannot do what he will with us, but what we give him advantage to do. He cannot break open our doors, but he can enter if we leave them open.
f. But I add, that God will not impute his mere temptations to you, but to himself, be they never so bad, as long as you receive them not by the will, but hate them. Nor will he condemn you for those ill effects which are unavoidable from the power of a bodily disease, any more than he will condemn a man for raving thoughts or words in a fever, frenzy, or utter madness. But so far as reason yet hath power, and the will can govern passions, it is your fault if you use not the power, though the difficulty make the fault the less.
B. ANSWER II. But usually other causes go before this disease of melancholy, except in some bodies naturally prone to it; and therefore, before I speak of the cure of it, I will briefly touch them.
1. And one of the most common causes is sinful impatience, discontents and cares proceeding from a sinful love of some bodily interest, and from a want of sufficient submission to the will of God, and trust in him, and taking heaven for a satisfying portion.
…. But yet it beseemeth even a pardoned sinner to know the greatness of his sin, that he may not favour it, nor be unthankful for forgiveness.
I will therefore distinctly open the parts of this sin, which bringeth many into dismal melancholy.
a. It is presupposed that God trieth his servants in this life with manifold afflictions; and Christ will have us bear the cross, and follow him in submissive patience. Some are tried with painful diseases, and some with wrong by enemies, and some with the unkindness of friends, and some with froward, provoking relatives and company, and some with slanders, and some with persecution, and many with losses, disappointments, and poverty.
i. And here impatience is the beginning of the working of the sinful malady. Our natures are all too regardful of the interest of the flesh, and too weak in bearing heavy burdens; and poverty hath those trials which full and wealthy persons, that feel them not, too little pity; especially in two cases:—
I When men have not themselves only, but wives and children in want, to quiet.
II And when they are in debt to others; which is a heavy burden to an ingenuous mind, though thievish borrowers make too light of it.
2. And this impatience turneth to a settled discontent and unquietness of spirit, which affecteth the body itself, and lieth all day as a load or continual trouble at the heart.
3. And impatience and discontent do set the thoughts on the rack with grief and continual cares, how to be eased of the troubling cause. They can scarce think of any thing else; and these cares do even feed upon the heart, and are to the mind as a consuming fever to the body.
4. And the secret root or cause of all this is the worst part of the sin, which is, too much love to the body and this world. …
5. There is yet more sin in the root of all, and that is, it showeth that our wills are yet too selfish, and not subdued to a due submission to the will of God, but we would be as gods to ourselves, and be at our own choosing, and must needs have what the flesh desireth. We want a due resignation of ourselves and all our concerns to God, and live not as children, in due dependence on him for our daily bread, but must needs be the keepers of our own provision.
6. And this showeth that we be not sufficiently humbled for our sin; or else we should be thankful for the lowest state, as being much better than that which we deserved.
7. And there is apparently much distrust of God and unbelief in these troubling discontents and cares. Could we trust God as well as ourselves, or as we could trust a faithful friend, or as a child can trust his father, how quiet would our minds be in the sense of his wisdom, all-sufficiency, and love!
8. And this unbelief yet hath a worse effect than worldly trouble; it showeth that men take not the love of God and the heavenly glory for their sufficient portion. Unless they may have what they want or would have for the body,—this world; unless they may be free from poverty, and crosses, and provocations, and injuries, and pains; all that God hath promised them here or hereafter, even everlasting glory, will not satisfy them: and when God, and Christ, and heaven are not enough to quiet a man’s mind, he is in great want of faith, hope, and love, which are far greater matters than food and raiment.
C. ANSWER III. Another great cause of such trouble of mind is the guilt of some great and wilful sin; … There is some more hope of the recovery of these, than of dead-hearted or unbelieving sinners, who work uncleanness with greediness, ..
But yet if God convert these persons, the sins which they now live in may possibly hereafter plunge their souls into such depths of sorrow, in the review, as may swallow them up.
D. ANSWER IV. But among people fearing God, there is yet another cause of melancholy, and of sorrowing overmuch; and that is ignorance and mistakes in matters which their peace and comforts are concerned in. I will name some particulars:—
1. One is ignorance of the tenor of the gospel or covenant of grace: …
2. And many of them are mistaken about the use of sorrow for sin, and about the nature of hardness of heart. They think that if their sorrow be not so passionate as to bring forth tears and greatly to afflict them, they are not capable of pardon, though they should consent to all the pardoning covenant; and they consider not that it is not our sorrow for itself that God delighteth in, but it is the taking down of pride, and that so-much humbling sense of sin, danger, and misery, as may make us feel the need of Christ and mercy, and bring us unfeignedly to consent to be his disciples, and to be saved upon his covenant-terms. Be sorrow much or little, if it do this much, the sinner shall be saved.
3. And abundance are cast down by ignorance of themselves, not knowing the sincerity which God hath given them. Grace is weak in the best of us here; and little and weak grace is not very easily perceived, for it acteth weakly and unconstantly, and it is known but by its acts; and weak grace is always joined with too strong corruption; …
4. And, in such a case, there are too few that know how to fetch comfort from bare probabilities, when they get not certainty; much less, from the mere offers of grace and salvation, even when they cannot deny but they are willing to accept them; and if none should have comfort but those that have assurance of their sincerity and salvation, despair would swallow up the souls of most, even of true believers.
5. And ignorance of other men increaseth the fears and sorrows of some. They think, by our preaching and writing, that we are much better than we are. And then they think that they are graceless, because they come short of our supposed measures; whereas if they dwelt with us and saw our failings, or knew us but as well as we know ourselves, or saw all our sinful thoughts and vicious dispositions written in our foreheads, they would be cured of this error.
6. And unskilful teachers do cause the griefs and perplexities of very many. Some cannot open to them clearly the tenor of the covenant of grace; some are themselves unacquainted with any spiritual, heavenly consolations; and many have no experience of any inward holiness, and renewal by the Holy Ghost, and know not what sincerity is, nor wherein a saint doth differ from an ungodly sinner. As wicked deceivers make good and bad to differ but a little, if not the best to be taken for the worst; so some unskilful men do place sincerity in such things as are not so much as duty; as the Papists, in their manifold inventions and superstitions; and many sects, in their unsound opinions.
And some unskilfully and unsoundly describe the state of grace, and tell you how far a hypocrite may go, so as unjustly discourageth and confoundeth the weaker sort of Christians, and cannot amend the mis-expression of their books or teachers.* And too many teachers lay men’s comforts, if not salvation, on controversies which are past their reach, and pronounce heresy and damnation against that which they themselves understand not. Even the Christian world, these one thousand three hundred, or one thousand two hundred years, is divided into parties, by the teachers’ unskilful quarrels about words, which they took in several senses. Is it any wonder if the hearers of such are distracted?
IV. I have told you the causes of distracted sorrows, I am now to tell you what is THE CURE, But, alas! it is not so soon done as told; and I shall begin where the disease beginneth, and tell you both what the patient himself must do, and what must be done by his friends and teachers.
A. Look not on the sinful part of your troubles, either as better or worse than indeed it is.
1. Too many persons, in their sufferings and sorrows, think they are only to be pitied; and take little notice of the sin that caused them, or that they still continue to commit: and too many unskilful friends and ministers do only comfort them, when a round chiding and discovery of their sin should be the better part of the cure. …
2. And yet when, as foolishly, they think that all these sins are marks of a graceless state, …
B. Particularly, give not way to a habit of peevish impatience.—…Prepare for the loss of children and friends, for the loss of goods, and for poverty and want. Prepare for slanders, injuries, or poisons; for sickness, pain, and death. It is your unpreparedness that maketh it seem unsufferable.
And when you feel distracting cares for your deliverances, remember that this is not trusting God. Care for your own duty, and obey his command; but leave it to him what you shall have: tormenting cares do but add to your afflictions. …
C. Set yourselves, more diligently than ever, to overcome the inordinate love of the world.—…That which men love they delight in, if they have it; and mourn for want of it, and desire to obtain it. The will is the love: and no man is troubled for want of that which he would not have.
1. But the commonest cause of passionate melancholy is, at first, some worldly discontent and care: either wants, or crosses, or the fear of suffering, or the unsuitableness and provocation of some related to them, or disgrace, or contempt, do cast them into passionate discontent; and [then] self-will cannot bear the denial of something which they would have. And then when the discontent hath muddied and diseased a man’s mind, temptations about his soul do come-in afterwards; and that which began only with worldly crosses doth after seem to be all about religion, conscience, or merely for sin or want of grace.
2. Why could you not patiently bear the words, the wrongs, the losses, the crosses that did befall you? Why made you so great a matter of these bodily, transitory things? Is it not because you over-love them? …
D. If you are not satisfied that God alone, Christ alone, heaven alone, is enough for you, as matter of felicity and full content, go, study the case better, and you may be convinced.—…
E. And study better how great a sin it is, to set our own wills and desires in a discontented opposition to the wisdom, will, and providence of God; and to make our wills, instead of his, as gods to ourselves.—…
F. And study well how great a duty it is wholly to trust God, and our blessed Redeemer, both with soul and body, and all we have.—…
O that you knew what a mercy and comfort it is for God to make it your duty to trust him! If he had made you no promise, this is equal to a promise: if he do but bid you trust him, you may be sure he will not deceive your trust.
1. OBJECTION. “But it is none but his children that he will save.”
2. ANSWER. True: and all are his children that are truly willing to obey and please him. If you are truly willing to be holy, and to obey his commanding will, in a godly, righteous, and sober life, you may boldly rest in his disposing will, and rejoice in his rewarding and accepting will: for he will pardon all our infirmities through the merits and intercession of Christ.
G. If you would not be swallowed up with sorrow, swallow not the baits of sinful pleasure.—…The more pleasure you have in sin, usually the more sorrow it will bring you; …Never look for joy or peace as long as you live in wilful and beloved sin. This thorn must be taken out of your hearts before you will be eased of the pain; unless God leave you to a senseless heart, and Satan give you a deceitful peace, which doth but prepare for greater sorrow.
H. … is, the cure of that ignorance and those errors which cause your troubles.
 This is an outline of the first half of Sermon XI from volume three of “Puritan Sermons”; James Nichols, 1844
Luke records the Devil’s temptation of Jesus in chapter 4, verses 1 – 13. He ends the story with the words, “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.” The word translated as “opportune time” is chairos.
The Devil does not make a personal appearance again in Luke until chapter 22. He is mentioned in other places in the Gospel (e.g., “And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” Luke 13:16); but he is not a direct, present actor until he enters Judas:
3 Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve.
4 He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them.
5 And they were glad, and agreed to give him money.
6 So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.
Luke 22:3-6. The word translated “opportunity” is the Greek word eu-chairos, a “good time”. In Luke’s construction, Satan has been busy looking for a opportune time to go after Jesus. Upon entering Judas he continued to seek for an opportune time.
When we read Peter’s description of the Devil (1 Peter 5:8), we see what the Devil was busy doing between chapters 4 & 22:
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Peter’s instruction, was the precise same instruction which Jesus had given to Peter, when the Devil in Judas (see also, John 13:27) was coming for Jesus:
Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Mark 14: 38
The Temptation of Jesus.5
The first temptation:
And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” Matthew 4:3 (ESV)
The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Luke 4:3 (ESV)
First, there is the difference in the identity of the bad guy. Matthew has switched from “devil” to “tempter” while Luke has stuck with “devil”. Does that mean that Matthew now switched from his Q source to some other source and Luke has switched from Mark for verse 2 and now has gone to Q for verse 3 – or perhaps another source for this word – or maybe it was Matthew. Then, to really mess with the scholars, Jesus uses the word Satan in 4:10!
The most likely explanation is that they are both recounting the same story. The similarity both in content and in connection to the baptism is because the story was known before either Matthew or Luke wrote the words; and the temptation was connected to the baptism in the original oral form.
In the various temptation accounts, the content of the quotations is nearly identical. The variation exists primarily in the context language.
The primary difference in the quotations:
Loaves of bread/bread: Matthew does not use the word “loaves”; rather he uses the plural “to these stones” to become “breads”. Luke uses a singular say to “this stone” become “bread”.
In short, we have minor variation in phrasing which suggests a different translation of the same account. The differences do not change the meaning in any significant manner.
Who was the tempter?
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1 (ESV)
And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. Mark 1:13 (ESV)
for forty days, being tempted by the devil.. Luke 4:2 (ESV)
Matthew and Luke refer to “the devil”; Mark to Satan:
The term devil, employed by Luke and Matthew, comes from diabellein, to spread reports, to slander. Mark employs the word Satan (Hebrew stn, to oppose; Zech. iii.1, 2; Job i.6, etc.). The first of these names is taken from the relation of his beings to men: the second from his relations with God.
Godet, 210. The difference is merely the choice between two names for the same person.
It is informative to note a further difference: Matthew writes that went “to be tempted by the devil”; while Luke has that he was “tempted by the devil”. Mark uses the same verb form as Luke and the same tempter as Matthew. This is where academic readers have enormous fun trying to figure who copied whom and why they changed it. So one guy would argue that Mark wrote first and then Luke copied him but changed because Luke like the verb because that was Luke’s style; while Matthew has his own style and likes to use infinitives instead of participles but he also used the word “devil” because devil for some reason that none of know didn’t like Mark’s word Satan.
What makes the arguments so much fun is that it is impossible to prove them wrong. No one knows for certain (despite mountains of academic speculation) whether they knew of the existence of the other Gospel accounts or whether they had read them or whether they had the same thing or what not.
In each instance, the general information is identical, but the precise presentation of the information differs. Maybe it was the result of a very complicated process of copying and editing. But consider this: What if the story about the temptation existed prior to the writing (which is pretty likely – even if you deny the historicity of the story). When the story was set down in a new language (the earliest followers of Jesus would not have been first language Greek speakers), the basic elements would remain the same, but general aspects of phrasing would change. The only real detail difference between the three accounts is the mention of the “wild beasts” in Mark (Matthew and Luke each share the longer story; Matthew and Mark share a reference to the angels).
Now the differences in phrasing of the story is easily understood by the act of translation. Here are three highly accurate translations Luke 4:2 (ESV, NIV84, NET):
Lk 4:2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry.
Lk 4:2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
Lk 4:2 where for forty days he endured temptations from the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were completed, he was famished.
The basic information is the same in each translation while the phrasing is different. None of that proves that the translators copied each other in part.
It is a very popular fallacy that the enemy drove Christ into a corner and tempted Him. But the whole Divine story reveals that the facts were quite otherwise. God’s perfect Man, led by the Spirit, or as Mark in his own characteristic and forceful way expresses it, driven by the Spirit, passes down into the wilderness, and compels the adversary to stand out clear from all secondary causes, and to enter into direct combat. This is not the devil’s method. He ever puts something between himself and the man he would tempt. He hides his own personality wherever possible. To our first parents he did not suggest that they should serve him, but that they should please themselves. Jesus dragged him from behind everything, and put him in front, that for once, not through the subtlety of a second cause, but directly, he might do his worst against a pure soul.
G. Campbell Morgan, The Crises of Christ (3rd ed., 1903), 159-160.
The Force and Help It Has
We cannot marvel, though sin be active seeing that Satan helps it forward. In some he plays the Rex [king], and rules in the hearts of the children of disobedience (Eph. 2.2). And note this, where men are sons of disobedience there are they also servants unto the Prince of Darkness: They come at his case and go at his command (1 Pet. 5.8). Nay he makes them as like himself as may be.
The devil himself is fierce and cruel, thence he is called a roaring lion and are not his servant so? No bear more salvage, no tiger more fierce, no lion more cruel than they are. It better saith one, to be a beast, than compared to a beast, for a beast is good in his nature, but a man that is like a beast, he degenerates from that nature that should be in him.
A Murderous Enemy
How does Pharaoh cause the male children to float on the river? How does Manasses cause Jerusalem to swim in blood? And what a monster was Herod that slew all those innocent babes from two years old and under? Nay how like was Nero to him that caused Christians to be put into coasts laid over with pitch and brimstone, and to burn all night, to the end that they might shew light to those that passed by.
The Devil hates our natural life: So does he make his servants to seek to take away the precious life of men. As you have heard, nay he labors to take away our spiritual life, that is to destroy our souls. As when Christ had sown the good seed, the enemy he comes and sows tares (Matt. 13.19), he was a lying spirit in the mouths of all Ahab’s prophets (1 Kings 2.23), so he seeks to fan us as chaff, and to hinder our faith: so do all his servants.
How did Jannes and Jambres resist Moses to [his] face (2 Tim. 3.8)? And did not Elimas seek to turn the deputy from the faith (Acts 13.8, 9, 10), whom Paul not unfitly calls the child of the Devil and enemy of all righteousness: And for their activeness in all this, they are very industrious. As it was said of the Pharisees (of Jesuits) (Matt. 23.15) that they did compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when they had done, made him twofold more the child of the devil than themselves: and no wonder thought; they move so fast, for they needs to apace whom the Devil drives.
John Bunyan, Grace Abounding:
23. I had no sooner thus conceived in my mind, but suddenly this conclusion was fastened on my spirit, for the former hint did set my sins again before my face, that I had been a great and grievous sinner, and that it was now too late for me to look after heaven; for Christ would not forgive me, nor pardon my transgressions. Then I fell to musing upon this also; and while I was thinking on it, and fearing lest it should be so, I felt my heart sink in despair, concluding it was too late; and therefore I resolved in my mind I would go on in sin; for, thought I, if the case be thus, my state is surely miserable; miserable if I leave my sins, and but miserable if I follow then; I can but be damned, and if I must be so, I had as good be damned for many sins, as to be damned for few.
24. Thus I stood in the midst of my play, before all that then were present; but yet I told them nothing: but I say, I having made this conclusion, I returned desperately to my sport again; and I well remember, that presently this kind of despair did so possess my soul, that I was persuaded I could never attain to other comfort than what I should get in sin; for heaven was gone already, so that on that I must not think; wherefore I found within me a great desire to take my fill of sin, still studying what sin was set to be committed, that I might taste the sweetness of it; and I made as much haste as I could to fill my belly with its delicates, lest I should die before I had my desire; for that I feared greatly. In these things, I protest before God, I lie not, neither do I feign this sort of speech; these were really, strongly, and with all my heart, my desires; the good Lord, whose mercy is unsearchable, forgive me my transgressions .
25. And I am very confident, that this temptation of the devil is more than usual amongst poor creatures than many are aware of, even to overrun their spirits with a scurvy and seared frame of heart, and benumbing of conscience; which frame,he stilly and slily supplieth with such despair, that though not much guilt attendeth the soul, yet they continually have a secret conclusion within them, that there is no hopes for them; for they have loved sons, ‘therefore after them they will go’ (Jer. 2.25; 18.12).