The Three Temptations of Identity

Photo courtesy Ronnie Mesa (Instagram)

Photo courtesy Ronnie Mesa (Instagram)

Jesus knew who he was. More to the point, Jesus knew whose he was.

His humanness, his place, his purpose, his affirmation all came directly from the Father. Early on this secure identity was evident. After their days long search of Jerusalem for him, Jesus answered his parents frantic questions with “didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49)

Fully human, Jesus’ identity was rooted in communion with the Father. It is that identity that was the basis for the behaviors, decisions, and ways of relating to others that we see in the New Testament accounts.

In Luke 3:22, Jesus received the blessing of the Father “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Not only was this declaration of truth a confirmation for those who witnessed it, but it was affirmation and approval for Jesus. It was well timed.

The next scene after Jesus receiving affirmation from the Father is of him being led into the wilderness where He would experience three temptations to his identity.

Twice in Luke 4:1 – 13 satan begins the test with “if you are the Son of God…” – if you are indeed who you think you are and claim to be, then prove it.

In between, Satan challenges the Father as source of Jesus identity by saying “if you worship me…” – if you put your worth in me, I will give you what you need to sustain your sense of purpose and place.

Remember, the three questions of identity are: what do I do?, what do I have?, and what do people think of me? They are related to the desires for control, security, and affirmation that are part of our image.

First the enemy asks Jesus to turn a rock into bread. This is an attempt to get Jesus to meet his own needs apart from the Father. What can you do Jesus?

Next the devil offers to give Jesus authority over the world. Instant affirmation. Create your own kingdom rather than build the Father’s. What do people think of you Jesus?

Finally, satan tells Jesus to throw his human body off the temple so the Father’s angels will catch him. Make a step of your own and ask God to bless the result. What do you have from your Father Jesus?

Fully God, Jesus could have done all these things. Instead, Jesus’ response to the Lie that wholeness is found apart from the Father was to respond with Truth.

Jesus knew whose He was.

Each of us that follows Christ belongs to the Father as well. Free of performance, possession, or approval by the world and its standards. Our response should be to replace the lies we believe about our self and God with truth.

What temptations are you prone to believe and follow? What is the truth you can practice to replace the lie?


I work with followers of Christ to energize discipleship, improve relationships, decrease anxiety and facilitate leadership development. I am a certified coach specializing in pastoral leadership, relationships, discipleship, life transitions, and Christian identity. Also, I am the author of the forthcoming book Discovering Your Root: Developing Your Identity in Christ.

Services I offer are one-on-one coaching, group coaching,  speaking at organizations/churches, workshops on marriage/discipleship/leadership, and church retreats. For more info, click here to contact me.

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