Jesus’ first temptation involved the false assumption, I am whatI do. Satan said, ”If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” In other words, prove to yourself that you really are the Son of God.
The second temptation involved the false assumption, I am what others say about me. Satan said to Jesus,“If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down and let the angels rescue you.” In other words, prove to yourself that you are the Son of God by seeing if the angels will obey your command and then if others witnessing this spectacle will confirm who you are.
Jesus’ third temptation involved the false assumption, I am what I possess. Satan said, “If you are the Son of God, fall down and worship me and I will give you all the kingdoms of the world.” In other words, prove you are the Son of God by having all the rulers of the world under your authority as you ought to.
Jesus saw through the false assumptions behind each temptation. With each one he replied, “It’s a lie!” For Jesus, there was no “If I am the Son of God,” but always “Because I AM the Son of God.” Jesus knew there was nothing he needed to do or possess to be who he truly was. Jesus knew who he was and remained secure in his relationship with the Father, confident in the Father’s faithfulness.
For us to be delivered from temptations in our lives, it’s essential that we know who we truly are. As sinners saved by grace, we have a new identity—we are Jesus’ beloved brothers and sisters, God’s dearly loved children.
As we live in Christ, secure in [our true] identity, we will find that what used to tempt us becomes less and less powerful. We grow in strength as we embrace and live into our true identity—secure in knowing it is ours in relationship with the triune God who is faithful and full of love for us his children.
If we are not secure in our true identity, temptations likely will set us back. We may doubt we are Christians, or that God loves us unconditionally. We might be tempted to think that being tempted means God has begun to withdraw from us. But knowing our true identity as God’s dearly beloved children is a freely-given gift. We can rest secure knowing that Jesus, in his vicarious humanity, overcame all temptation for us—in our place and on our behalf. Knowing this enables us to stand back up when we fall (and we will), make whatever amends we need to make, and trust God to lead us forward....and thus be renewed in his welcoming embrace.