“After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread” (Matthew 4:2-3).

The devil is a tempter and therefore he is Satan, the adversary, for our worst enemies are those that entice us to sin and are Satan’s agents carrying out his work and designs. He is called emphatically the tempter because he was so to our first parents and still is so, and all other tempters are set to work by him. Observe the subtlety of the tempter to take advantage of Christ’s hunger, in that to make his point of attack. Satan is an adversary no less watchful than spiteful, and the more industrious he is to take advantage against us, the more industrious we must be to give him none. Christ’s hunger in the wilderness, where there was nothing to be eaten, made the notion of turning stones into bread very proper. Satan states that if Jesus really is the Son of God, the Father would never allow him to be in such a difficulty. Either God is not His Father, or He is a very unkind one. The primary thing Satan aims at in tempting good people is to overthrow their relationship to God as a father and so to cut off their dependence on Him and their communion with Him. Outward affections, needs and burdens are the great arguments Satan uses to make the people of God question their sonship, as if afflictions and difficulties were not consistent with God’s fatherly love. The devil aims to shake our faith in the Word of God and bring us to question the truth of that. He implants within people hard thoughts of God, as is He were unkind or unfaithful and had forsaken or forgotten those who have ventured their all with Him. He used the tree of knowledge in this manner with our first parents, and here he insinuates to our Savior that His Father has cast Him off and left Him to fend for Himself. Let us answer temptations of this sort with the words of Job: “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15). Though I starve to death, I will trust and love God as a Friend. It is better to starve to death than to live and thrive by sin.

Adapted from “In His Presence”