Middle Grades Lesson for Sunday School:
Imitators of Christ – Using God's Word
Teacher’s Notes: Last week we learned that as Christians, we should be imitating Jesus Christ. And we found that in order to do that, we need to get to know Him better. So this week, we will begin to look at how Jesus reacted to different situations, and consider what we can learn from it. This week’s lesson will focus on Jesus’ temptation by Satan in the wilderness, and how Jesus used Scripture as a sword to defeat him.
Opening prayer: Lord, thank You for each student who’s here, today. And thank You for Your Word, our Holy Bible. Help us, this week, to understand how important it is to know Your Word, and be ready to use it when we’re facing temptation. And thank You for Your Holy Spirit, and the way He helps us learn and remember what You’ve taught us. Open our ears and hearts to Your lesson for us today. Amen.
(Begin by asking the students who were with you last week if any of them tried to imitate Christ during the week. And if so, ask them what they did, and if anyone noticed them being more like Christ.)
Now, today I want you to imagine that you are being forced to fight against a dangerous enemy. And imagine that this is taking place before there were ever any guns. You look at the enemy and see that he seems to be well-prepared to fight against you. He is covered in armor from head to toe, and is carrying a long, sharp sword. As you prepare to fight him, what do you think you might need? (suggested answers: armor, weapon – sword, training in how to use your sword) Did you know that God’s Word is sometimes compared to a sword? Listen to these verses:
“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:” Ephesians 6:17
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
In our lesson today, we’re going to see that Jesus had to fight a dangerous enemy; it was Satan. But He didn’t go into the battle empty-handed. Jesus had “the sword of the Spirit,” which is the Word of God, ready to use. And He also knew the right way to use it!
Last week we talked about becoming imitators of Jesus Christ. So this week we’re going to find out how He defeated Satan, when he came to tempt Jesus to do wrong. And we’ll find out how we can learn to defeat Satan the very same way!
Memory verse: (Have the children repeat this verse with you several times, until they are able to say it themselves. And encourage them to repeat it to others several times during the week, so that it’ll have a place in their hearts.)
“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Psalm 119:11
This Week’s Lesson:
Do you ever feel tempted to do something you know would not be pleasing to God? You have a choice…to give in to the temptation, or fight against it. But in order to fight, you would need a weapon. Jesus gave us a great example of what to use as a weapon against our greatest enemy, Satan.
(Suggested Bible Reading): Matthew 4:1-11 (you may read the entire passage now, or just refer back to it when suggested in the lesson)
1Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
2And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
3And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
4But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
5Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
6And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
7Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
8Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
9And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
10Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
11Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
Verses 1 and 2 of Matthew chapter 4 tell us that Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness where He fasted and prayed for forty days, and that He did all this “to be tempted by the devil.” Do you know what it means to fast? It means to go without food (and sometimes without water, too). How do you think Jesus felt after forty days of not eating? God never promises us that our life will be easy once we are saved. Sometimes God allows us to go through difficult circumstances to help build our faith. Sometimes God wants us to show Him that we will trust Him and obey Him, no matter what! But God does promise that He will help us through any temptation that comes into our lives. 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
Jesus prepared for His meeting with Satan by spending many days and nights talking to His Heavenly Father in prayer. At the end of those forty days, verse 2 tells us that Jesus was hungry. Wouldn’t you be hungry after going forty days without food? Perhaps the Bible mentions this so that we will know that Jesus experienced the same feelings and trials that we do. Hebrews 4:15 says “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”
Satan does not wait until we are ready and watching for him to strike. He often strikes when we’re tired and weary, and he thinks we are weak. And this is just what he did with Jesus. He met Jesus there, in the wilderness, and began his attack right where He thought Jesus would be the weakest at that moment…His need for food.
Satan began the first temptation by questioning who Jesus is, then challenging Him to provide something for Himself that His Father had not provided. Satan said, “IF” you are the Son of God… Has anyone ever challenged you to prove who you are, or what you can do? Maybe they’ve told you they think they can run faster than you, or could beat you in a wrestling match. If they have, and you know that you could beat them, then you probably know how hard it would be to ignore such a challenge. But Jesus knew what was at the heart of Satan’s challenge. Yes, Jesus was hungry. And yes, if He wanted to, He could change the stones before Him into bread and stop the growling in His stomach. He is the Creator, the maker of the stones and all of our sources of food. But the Holy Spirit had led Him here, to the wilderness, and had not provided any food. Perhaps Satan wanted Jesus to question whether His Heavenly Father truly cared about Him. Perhaps He wanted Jesus to ignore His Father’s plan, and make bread for Himself (proving that He had the power to do so). But Jesus knew that His purpose for coming to this earth was to do His Father’s will. And that included waiting for His Father to provide at the best time. So instead of listening to Satan’s challenge, or the noises rumbling in His stomach, Jesus instead relied on His secret weapon…God’s Word. Listen to what Jesus’ response was in verse 4: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Jesus was quoting a verse He knew from the Old Testament. He knew that the most important thing in His life was not what goes into His mouth, but what has come out of God’s. And because He had God’s Word in His heart, Jesus’ response to Satan’s challenge was one that showed His obedience and love for His Heavenly Father. That’s why it’s so important for us to have God’s Word in our hearts! Then, when Satan challenges us, we can do the same thing. We can remember God’s promises and His instructions, and will know the right thing to do. Then we, too, will be living by “every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”
Satan then took Jesus up to the top of the Temple. And for his second temptation, challenged Jesus with the very weapon He had used…God’s Word. Only when Satan tried it, he left out a very important part. Satan “saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.” (verse 6) Satan was using a passage from Psalm 91. But if he had gone back just two verses, he would have noticed that this promised protection was for those who “…made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;” (Psalm 91:9) In other words, God’s protection was promised to those who are living in the will of God. Jesus knew that it would not be His Father’s will to do what Satan was saying, so it would be testing God’s protection in a time when it would not be deserved or promised. That is why Jesus’ reply to Satan was simply, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”
We can learn a very important lesson from this temptation, too. When we do use God’s Word to help us through a temptation, or to remind us of God’s promises, it is important to understand those verses, as well as the ones around them. We call that using the verse “in context.” So when we learn a memory verse, let’s make sure we understand what that verse really means!
Satan still had one more temptation for Jesus. Satan and Jesus both knew what lay ahead. Jesus would, in just a few short years, die a painful, cruel death in order to bring salvation to all those who would believe on Him. And one day, in the future, as Savior of the world, all the kingdoms of the world will be His. But that would only come after Jesus endured a lot of suffering at the hands of the very people He had come to save, and even rejection by His own Father. So Satan had this offer for Jesus: “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 thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” (verses 8-9) Do you think this was a hard choice for Jesus? He would only have to worship Satan one time…just one time. And He could become the King of the world without having to die on the cross. But what would have happened if Jesus had taken Satan up on his offer? Then there would have been no sacrifice for our sins, and we wouldn’t be able to go to Heaven to live with Jesus some day, because our sins would not be forgiven. Jesus knew this, and was more concerned with obeying His Father, and being the sacrifice for our sins, than He was with Satan’s offer of receiving the kingdoms of the world from Satan’s hands. So Jesus again pulled out His spiritual sword, and responded, “for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”
And God’s Word tells us that when Jesus said that, Satan was defeated, and left Jesus alone. As soon as Satan left, Jesus’ Heavenly Father sent angels to minister to Him. The Father had planned all along to take care of His Son. But He wanted to do it in His way, and in His time. Do you ever get impatient when you’ve prayed and asked God for something, but He doesn’t seem to answer right away? If you are His child, and your heart is clean before Him, then you can be sure that He hears your prayers, and is taking good care of you. He may not be doing it the way you expected, or as quickly as you had hoped. But you can be sure that He’s doing the very best thing for you! We know that from His promise in Romans 8:28. (“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”)
So in our journey to become more like Jesus Christ, what have we learned from His temptation that we can use in our lives today?
Remember, though, that it’s important to use the Bible verses as God intended them. This verse was written by the apostle Paul to believers in Christ who were living in a way that was pleasing God…they were doing all they could to help meet Paul’s needs.
And like this verse, we can find many other promises from our Heavenly Father in His Word. If we learn them (hide them in our hearts) then, when Satan comes to tempt us, or we become discouraged or afraid, we can pull out our swords of the Spirit and fight against those foes…and beat them, just like Jesus did!
But we must also remember that it is the Holy Spirit living in us who brings these verses back to our minds just when we need them. If you haven’t asked Jesus to be your Savior, if you don’t have the Holy Spirit living in you, then you won’t have this very powerful weapon ready to fight against Satan’s attacks. You can take care of that this very day, and have the Holy Spirit right with you, all the time, to help you fight whatever spiritual battles that come your way. (invite the students to talk to you later, if they have any questions about salvation.)
Closing Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your Holy Word that can lead us and guide us, and help us get through temptations. And thank You for Your Holy Spirit, who can bring to our minds the verses we have learned. Help us to be diligent to hide Your Words in our hearts, so we won’t sin against You. And most of all, Lord, thank You for Your Son, Jesus Christ, who shows us what You are like. Help us to want to know You better, so we can become more like Christ in everything we think, and say, and do. Remind us, as we go through this week, to be like Jesus and use Your Word when Satan comes to tempt us. Amen.
Class Discussion/ Activity: Ask the students if they remember be tempted by anything this week. (for example: to take something that didn’t belong to them, to read or watch or listen to something they shouldn’t, to say something unkind to or about someone, etc.) Then encourage the students to take turns reciting any verses they have memorized before that might help with these temptations. For example: “Thou shalt not steal.” Exodus 20:15, when you’re tempted to take something that does not belong to you.
Then encourage the students to try to become more aware, this week, of times when Satan is tempting them to do wrong. Recognizing the temptation is a big part of winning the battle, too!
When Temptation Comes
When temptation comes
Remember you are armed
With God’s own Holy Word
To battle Satan’s charms
The verses you have learned
Will help you heart to be
Prepared to act like Christ
And live victoriously!
Lisa DeVinney, February, 2017