When Jesus was face to face with Satan in the wilderness, the Father's plan for salvation and Jesus' authority as Messiah were under attack. After the first temptation, Satan took Jesus to the very pinnacle of the temple, which was 450 feet high (about 40 stories high)—the point from which Jews would push false messiahs, false prophets, and heretics—and challenged Jesus to jump, quoting a psalm with a promise from God.
The devil not only knows the Bible—he uses it.
Why would Satan challenge Jesus to jump 450 feet? He was trying to get Jesus to force the hand of God the Father to act in a way that was contrary to His will—to presume upon God the Father. In Matthew 4:5-7, Satan was suggesting, "If you're really dependent upon the Father—if you really trust Him—then jump this 450 feet. Prove that the Scripture's promise will be fulfilled." Satan actually quoted Scripture to Jesus!
The devil not only knows the Bible—he uses it. But when he does, it's always twisted. He will change its meaning and take it out of context in order to mislead us. So we must be prepared.
Satan used a partial quote from Psalm 91:11 to try to get Jesus to exchange the supernatural for the sensational, the approval of the Father for the approval of people, and the applause of heaven for the applause of men. He tempted Jesus with the popularity that would result from the miraculous survival of a 450-foot jump. But this verse promising the Lord's protection follows a condition in verse 9: "If you say, 'The Lord is my refuge,' and you make the Most High your dwelling, . . ." God promises His provision for those who live under His will. But Satan twisted the Word of God to make it something it was and is not.
How did Jesus win over this temptation? "It is written." Jesus held fast to Scripture once again—accurately and in context. He did not succumb to the temptation of popularity at any price. He did not put God to the test by placing Himself in a situation that was outside the will of God. Satan entices us, but Jesus shows us the way to victory: seek God's will and obey.
Like Jesus, we must flee temptation rather than linger and say, "I hope it doesn't bite me." It's when you flee from temptation and to God that you'll get the victory.
Prayer: Father, thank You for Your Word and the beautiful promises found therein. Help me to know Your Word well so that I will be prepared when Satan tries to manipulate me with half-truths. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Jesus answered him, 'It is also written: "Do not put the Lord your God to the test"'" (Matthew 4:7).