In Matthew 4 (and Luke 4), Jesus is in the wilderness being tempted by Satan.
And how He responded should be instructive for us in a number of ways.
It is often pointed out (and rightly so) that He fought temptation with Scripture. Three times he replies to Satan by saying “It is written”, followed by a quote from the Old Testament.
What is not often pointed out is that all three (3) of the quotations He chose were from the book of Deuteronomy. In other words, He quotes from the Law.
Now the law does not justify. And many have pointed out that the Law does not give us the power to obey, and that (as Paul tells us in Romans 7:7-12) the law can actually stir up sin in the unregenerate heart. But the problem was never the law (which Paul says is “holy and righteous and good” – Romans 7:12), but rather sin itself, which reacts in rebellion against God’s law.
But the way that Jesus used the Law of God when He was being tempted should show us the goodness and downright helpfulness of the law in the lives of believers. Are you fighting against temptation? Then do not neglect the role of the law.
While we certainly need more than law when tempted – we need the grace of God & the power of His Spirit – we must not conclude that the law is a thing to be avoided.
The Psalmist writes,
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:11 ESV)
There should be no doubt that much of the Word that the Psalmist stored up in his heart was from the law. In fact, Psalm 1 speaks of the blessings of delighting in the law of God and meditating upon it day and night (v.1-3).
So don’t rely solely on the law in your fight against temptation, but don’t neglect it either! And next time your daily Bible reading plan finds you in the book of Deuteronomy, think about the example of Jesus in the wilderness and how He used that particular book to ward off the temptations of the evil one.