The contrast between the first and second temptations is instructive:
- The first challenged Jesus to doubt his position. Satan tried to undermine Christ's confidence.
- The second encouraged him to be over-confident in his standing with God. So confident that he would recklessly endanger himself to prove God would save him.
The two temptations of doubt and of recklessness are real today.
A faithful Christian may doubt her salvation for lack of feeling or perceiving God's presence in her life. This is the danger of the first temptation.
The second is more sinister. A disobedient Christian may live in sin, recklessly presuming that God will forgive, regardless of his actions. Paul warned of this attitude when he wrote "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?" - Romans 6:1-2
Jesus' method of interpretation
The second temptation gives special insight into how Jesus interpreted scripture. Jesus interpreted scriptures in light of other passages, so that they harmonized.
Satan isolated a passage from Psalms 91:11-12, and suggested that it applied to the limited situation he presented Jesus with (throwing himself from the temple). When isolated from other passages Satan's suggested interpretation appears logical.
Jesus quickly showed that this perverted interpretation did not harmonize with scripture. He quoted Deuteronomy 6:16 which reads, "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test."
The primary cause of church division today is improper interpretation of scripture.
The first violation of Jesus' method of interpretation is to isolate a passage from other scriptures. The second violation of Christ's method is to interpret a passage outside it's proper contex.
Read for yourself
Relying on another's interpretation is dangerous. Had Jesus relied on Satan's false interpretation, He would have failed.
The Christians in Acts 17:11 were "examining the scriptures daily to see whether these things were so." Even though they had apostles teaching them, they took responsibility for verifying the accuracy of the things they were being taught. This responsibility falls on each Christian, not just church leaders.