It is Written!

For years, each night my wife, Marilynne, and I have read different books out loud to one another. This year we are again reading the New Testament and on a night we read Matthew chapter 4. As I listened to her read, I could see in my mind the Savior walking into a remote area where He fasted and prayed forty days and forty nights; and then, after communion with His Father, when Jesus was hungry and weak from fasting, I could see Lucifer intruding on Christ's solitude, tempting Him "sorely." The word sorely means "painfully and grievously."

I was impressed with Jesus' composure and I commented to Marilynne how I thought it remarkable that Jesus did not listen to, argue with, criticize or berate Satan. He simply countered each of Satan's arguments by quoting a scripture. He said: "It is written,"stating a principle, thereby making it clear that He was committed to that principle, affirming that He could not be persuaded, bought or tempted otherwise. Our New Testament language is concise.

Following His baptism, Jesus was "led up of the Spirit into the wilderness" where He prayed and communed with God forty days and forty nights. His extreme fast had made Him physically weak and the devil, no doubt thinking Jesus was most vulnerable at that moment of extreme hunger, tempted Him with doubt as to His divine birth and to misuse His godly powers to satisfy His hunger by turning stones into bread saying: "If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." The Savior countered with: "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:1-4; see Joseph Smith Translation Matthew 4).

Matthew 4 tells of a second temptation which Satan offered while Jesus was on a pinnacle of the temple, a temptation designed to cause doubt as to Jesus' status as the Son of God. This time Satan also quoted scripture, tempting Jesus to throw Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple and to misuse godly powers to save Himself miraculously, proving to the people that He was the Son of God. The devil said: "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." In this duel of scriptures, Jesus countered with, "It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God" (Matthew 4:5-7; JST Matthew 4).

The Spirit then carried our Savior onto a high mountain from which He was given a vision of the kingdoms of the world. And the devil came commanding Jesus to worship him, stating that he would give Jesus all these kingdoms if He would bow down and worship him. Again Jesus quoted scripture, saying: "Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."

By quoting a scripture and by casting Satan from His presence, our Lord gave each of us an example of how we too should deal with each "sore" temptation we may encounter. When confronted with a devilish temptation we can state uncategorically: "It is written," quote the correct scripture, pray and banish Satan from our midst.

If tempted to take the name of the Father or the Son in vain, we can say with assurance, "It is written, 'thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God in vain"' (Exodus 20:7).

If challenged to be angry, or harm a family member or another, we can say, "It is written: 'thou shalt not kill or do anything like unto it"' (Doctrine & Covenants 59:6). We can say, "It is written: a person of charity and love 'is not easily provoked"' (1 Corinthians 13:5).

When tempted to be unkind, we can say, "It is written, 'Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love"' (Romans 12:10.)

When tempted to stay away from Church meetings to conduct business or ski or watch sports or play ball or golf on the Sabbath, we can say, "It is written, 'Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; But the seventh day, the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates…"' (Exodus 20:8-10; Mosiah 18:3.) We can also say: "It is written: 'And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day; For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High God"' (Doctrine & Covenants 59:9-10.)

If tempted to give alms for show and personal reward, we can echo Matthew 5 verse 42 saying: "It is written, 'do not your alms before men."'

When faced with a devilish temptation to commit sexual sin or lust including pornography, we can say, "It is written, 'thou shalt not commit adultery or do anything like unto it"' (Doctrine and Covenants 59:6; Exodus 20:14), or, "It is written, 'abstain from fleshly lusts"' (1 Peter 2:11).

If tempted to steal or take something not ours, we can say, "It is written, 'thou shalt not steal or do anything like unto it"' (Doctrine and Covenants 59:6).

When tempted to be proud of our accomplishments, or family, or possessions or positions, we can say: "It is written, 'he that exalts himself shall be abased"' (Luke 14:11).

When confronted with temptation to drink alcohol, coffee, or tea, or to use tobacco or illicit drugs or abuse prescription drugs, we can say, "It is written in the words of the prophets, thou shalt not drink alcohol, coffee or tea: thou shalt not use tobacco or illicit drugs or abuse prescription drugs" (see Doctrine and Covenants 89 and pertinent conference talks and writings of the prophets and apostles).

If faced with temptation to think or say something unkind about a neighbor? We can say: "It is written, 'Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour"' (Exodus 20:16).

If tempted to accuse another falsely, we can say, "It is written, 'neither accuse any falsely"' (Luke 3:14).

If tempted to waste time in the idleness of low class television or activities that are not uplifting, we can say, "It is written, 'refrain from idleness"' (Alma 38:12).

If tempted to go into a place of ill repute, we can say, "It is written, 'abstain from all appearance of evil"' (1 Thessalonians 5:22).

If tempted to covet, we can say, "It is written, 'Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbour's"' (Exodus 20:17).

It is written in Holy Scripture. It is written in the words of the living prophets, apostles and General Authorities For their words when spoken by the Holy Ghost are holy scripture. )

You may want to create your own set of scriptures and quotes you can use as a defense against your "sore" temptations. Then you can say with confidence "It is written" and you can couple your scripture with a prayer banishing Satan and his temptation from your presence.

  • Richard Linford is a member of the ———Ward, Salt Lake East Millcreek North Stake