God does not try the wicked, but he does try the righteous. The psalmist David wrote, “The Lord tries the righteous: but the wicked and him that loves violence his soul hates” (Ps 11:5). And again he wrote, “Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins” (Ps 7:9). God tried every prophet, every apostle, and even his only begotten Son.
In Matthew chapter 4 we find where Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by the Devil. “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If you are the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Then the devil takes him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And says unto him, If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning you: and in their hands they shall bear you up, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, You shall not tempt the Lord your God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give you, if you will fall down and worship me. Then said Jesus unto him, Get you hence, Satan: for it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve. Then the devil leaves him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him” (Matt 4:1-11).
It is noteworthy that Jesus had no weakness of the spirit. “For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:” (1 Pet 2:21-22). Jesus had no weaknesses of the spirit but he did have the same common weaknesses of the flesh. “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15). Therefore, Jesus was not tried in his strength but in his weakness.
Notice Jesus fasted 40 days and nights making his body weak. He was hungry in the wilderness and thus was tempted to produce bread miraculously to prove he was the Son of God. Jesus could have used his own power to overcome his hunger, but he did not. He responded with the scripture, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Deut 8:3).
Jesus was then tempted again. He once sat on the right-hand throne of God and now was made in the weakness of flesh. This had to be demeaning to the creator of heaven and earth to be made lower than the angels (Heb 2:7,9). Therefore, the devil set him on the pinnacle of the temple daring him to jump off and let the angels catch him in order to prove his deity. Jesus responded with scripture, “It is written again, You shall not tempt the Lord your God” (Deut 6:16).
Lastly, Jesus was tempted with all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them. This temptation dealt with the patience of Jesus and his ultimate fear of an impending crucifixion. Yet, Jesus once again answered the devil with scripture by saying, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve” (Deut 6:13,14). Jesus faced his fear of the cruel death set before him in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt 26), and when he arose from the dead he was given all the power in heaven and in earth (Matt 28:18).
The apostle Paul had his thorn in the flesh and was buffeted by the messenger of Satan lest he would be exalted above measure. Jesus responded to his request for removing his weakness of the flesh by saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (“2 Cor 12:9). Thus Paul embraced his weaknesses by writing, “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:9-10).
James writing to the Jews said, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (Jam 1:2-4). And again he wrote, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (Jam 1:12). Peter added to this subject by writing, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 1:7).
All faithful Christians will be weakened in the flesh and will suffer persecution, suffering for the cause of Christ (2 Tim 3:12 f; 1 Pet 4:16). Remember the words of Jesus, “for My strength is made perfect in weakness”. Instead of running from our trials we need to face them head-on. We need to face the trickery of the devil by putting on the whole armor of God (Eph 6:11-18). We need to be set for the defense of the gospel (Philip 1:15-18). We need to study God’s Word both day and night (2 Tim 2:15 f; Ps 1:1,2). If we place our defense in God’s Word, even as Jesus overcame temptations by the scripture, even so shall we overcome. God’s Word is just that powerful (Heb 4:12). And if we overcome, we too shall receive our crown of life (Jam 1:12 f; Rev 2:10).