And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
That our entering upon a special service for God or receiving a special favour from God, are two solemn seasons which Satan makes use of for temptation. Though this may seem strange, yet the harshness of such a providence on God's part, and the boldness of the attempt on Satan's part, may be much taken off by the consideration of the reasons hereof.
1. On Satan's part. It is no great wonder to see such an undertaking, when we consider his fury and malice. The more we receive from God, and the more we are to do for Him, the more doth he malign us. So much the more as God is good, by so much is his eye evil.
2. There are in such cases as these several advantages, which, through our weakness and imperfection, we are too apt to give him; and for these he lieth at the catch.
(1) Security. We are apt to grow proud, careless, and confident, after or upon such employments and favours; even as men are apt to sleep or surfeit upon a full meal, or to forget themselves when they are advanced to honour. Enjoyments beget confidence; confidence brings forth carelessness; carelessness makes God withdraw, and gives opportunity to Satan to work unseen. And thus, as armies after victory, growing secure, are oft surprised; so are we oft after our spiritual advancements thrown down.
(2) Discouragement and tergiversation is another thing the devil watcheth for. By his assaults he represents the duty difficult, tedious, dangerous, or impossible, on purpose to discourage us, and to make us fall back.
(3) The fall or miscarriage of the saints at such times is of more than ordinary disadvantage, not only to others — for if they can be prevailed with to lay aside their work, or to neglect the improvement of their favours, others are deprived of the benefit and help that might be expected from them — but also to themselves. A prevailing temptation doth more than ordinarily prejudice them at such times.
3. As we have seen the reason of Satan's keenness in taking those opportunities, so may we consider the reasons of God's permission, which are these: —
(1) Temptations at such seasons are permitted for more eminent trial of the upright.
(2) For an increase of diligence, humility, and watchfulness.
(3) For a plentiful furniture of experience. Temptation is the shop of experience.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,