The story of Jesus’ temptation by Satan in the wilderness is familiar to most of God’s people, but what He actually quoted to the enemy in His time of tempting is very instructive to us. Jesus quoted from Dueteronomy 8:2-3, which reads:
“You shall remember all the way which YHWH your God has led you in the wilderness these 40 years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.
He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand (know) that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.”
This passage is so insightful, and searching. It reminds us that God allows us to come into times of testing, “to know what was in your heart.” This is humbling, to any sincere person. We will admit that when The Lord sees what is in our heart, it is not good. And when push comes to shove, just like Israel in the wilderness, we do NOT “keep His commandments.” It is a stark reminder of how much we need the grace of God in Jesus Christ — and thank God we have it!
But there is another great lesson here as well. The point of :3 is that God humbles us — brings us into times of deprivation, humbling, and need — in order to show us that we do not need all the things we think we “must” have. It says that God brings us into these times of testing to show us that “man does not live by bread alone, but by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.” In other words, bread is not our greatest need; GOD is!
This is what Jesus reiterated to Satan in the wilderness that day. He knew this lesson. He did not need the “bread” that Satan tempted him with, in an ungodly way. The one thing He really needed more than anything else — even in a time of physical deprivation after 40 days of fasting — was not food, but GOD. He just needed to obey His word, and God would take care of all His other needs. (Which He did, by the way, immediately after this temptation was over!)
It would revolutionize our lives if we would really grasp that this is so with our lives today as well. IN YOUR TIME OF NEED, RECOGNIZE THAT WHAT YOU REALLY NEED IS THE LORD, NOT THE THING YOU THINK YOU NEED! This is true of food, or rest, or healing, or any of a multitude of other things we think we “must” have. It is not that thing, but GOD that you really need. And He may allow you to come into a time of testing, just like Jesus experienced in the wilderness as an example for you, in order that you may learn that HE is what you really need.
Perhaps it’s time for you re-learn this verse, and apply it and quote it continually regarding your situation: “I shall not live by ______ (my perceived need) alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” And pray: “Lord, it is YOU, not _____ that I really need.”