As Jesus stood at the highest point of the temple, Satan whispered to him, “Go ahead. Jump! If you’re really God’s son, he’ll save you.”
“[The devil] said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: “He shall give his angels charge over you,” and, “In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”’” (Matthew 4:6, NKJV).
Do you see Satan’s deviousness in this? He isolated a single promise from scripture, and he tempted Jesus to cast his whole life upon it. He was suggesting, “You say that God is with you. Well, show me the proof. Your Father has already allowed me to harass you. Where was his presence in that? You can prove he’s with you right now by jumping. If God is with you, he’ll provide a soft landing. You can base your confidence on that. If not, you might as well die rather than go on wondering if you’re on your own. You need a miracle to prove the Father is with you.”
How did the Savior respond? “Jesus said to him, ‘It is written again, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.”’” (Matthew 4:7). What exactly does Jesus mean here by ‘tempting God’?
The Old Testament provides us with our answer. Over and over the Lord had proved himself faithful to the Israelites. God’s people received visible proof that their Lord was with them, and yet they fell into the same question time after time: “Is God among us or not?” God calls this ‘tempting him.’ Jesus uses this same phrase in his reply to Satan.
As with Israel, God has already given us an entire body of evidence for his presence. First, we have in his Word that contains multiple promises of his closeness to us. Second, we have our own personal history with God that is a testimony of his many past deliverances in our lives. Third, we have a Bible full of witnesses to God’s presence in past centuries.
What does this tell us? It shows us it is a grave sin to doubt God’s presence; we’re not to question whether he’s with us. The Bible is clear: We’re to walk with God by faith and not by sight.