The sheer animal force of temptation ought to remind us of something: the universe is demon haunted. It also ought to remind us there’s only one among us who has ever wrestled the demons and prevailed.
The temptations of Jesus in the desert show us what kind of strategies the powers will use on us. While I was writing this book, I heard an elderly pastor reflect that over half of the confessions of sin he hears from people these days were physically impossible when he started his ministry. There’s a lot of truth to that. Saint Augustine never had to counsel, as I have, a wife whose husband has decided he wants to be a woman. Thomas Aquinas didn’t have to speak to the issue of compulsive electronic gaming. And the list could go on and on.
But none of these are new temptations, just newer ways of surrendering to old temptations. The temptations themselves are, as the Scripture puts it, “common to man” (1 Cor. 10:13), and in Jesus’ desert testing we see how true this is. Here the Scriptures identify for us the universal strategies of temptation. You will be tempted exactly as Jesus was, because Jesus was being tempted exactly as we are. You will be tempted with consumption, security, and status. You will be tempted to provide for yourself, to protect yourself, and to exalt yourself. And at the core of these three is a common impulse—to cast off the fatherhood of God.
Russell Moore, Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011).