Series 2 - Lesson 5 - Annotation 15
Explain how one overcomes wrong beliefs of "the world," "the flesh," and "the devil" as mentioned in the temptation of Jesus recorded in Matt. 4:1-11. (Also recorded in Mark 1:12,13 and Luke 4:1-13).
15. There are three beliefs that must be overcome — "the world," "the flesh," and "the devil." The lure of these is shown in the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, which represents the untrained, uncultivated states of mind in each person who has not come into spiritual understanding.
Jesus was physically hungry; so He was presented with the thought that He could turn the stones into bread and thus satisfy appetite, the call of the body. This temptation is symbolic of the attempt to use God-power for a selfish purpose. However, Jesus' response was to the effect that the body and its appetites should not rule — that there are other things essential to life. This is not to say that the body should not be fed, but that uncontrolled appetite is not to dominate. One can spend too much time and effort in catering to the appetite, the feeding of the physical, as if it were the most important part of man. Sometimes we forget that time must be spent in quietness and prayer to feed the soul with spiritual food (God-ideas). The false beliefs and undisciplined thoughts and emotions in the consciousness of man must be overcome, just as we cleanse the body so that good food will fulfill its purpose.
Jesus was then presented with the thought that if He would deliberately cast Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple, no harm would befall Him. In other words, the temptation was to make a show of power and ability; to prove what can be done through spiritual powers to win the world's acclaim; to succumb to the love of applause; to cater to the opinions of others; to attempt to get the world's approval. The answer was, "Thou shalt not make trial of the Lord thy God" (Matt. 4:7). This is "overcoming the world" or ceasing to base one's standard of thoughts and feelings upon the world's approval or disapproval.
Next came the temptation on the mountain, that exalted state of consciousness when one feels that he has all the power and ability of God, that anything and everything can be accomplished. Then came "the devil" saying, "All these things will I give thee, if thou shalt fall down and worship me" (Matt. 4:9). In other words, we seek to use the power of Divine Mind (God) to bring to ourself worship and dominion in the outer realm; we can use it to exalt the human self instead of exalting God and serving our fellowman. The "devil" (false beliefs) has to be overcome, so that God-consciousness may predominate.