The temptation of Jesus (Mt. 4:1-11) is often used as an illustration of how Satan attacks believers, or how believers should respond to Satan’s deceptive offerings, or how the Word of God is sufficient for every need, or how Christ is sympathetic to our temptations because He has endured every kind of temptation.
All those statements are true and helpful. But beyond these is that the temptation of Christ demonstrates the supremacy of Christ. Read the account of His temptation and recognize that Christ is in control of this entire interaction (as He overtly demonstrates when He sends Satan away at the end, v. 10). The temptation of Christ was a very real temptation, but it was not a command. Satan was not sovereign. Christ was. Satan was not ordering the day. Christ was.
John Piper’s comments here are helpful (“Ten Aspects of God’s Sovereignty Over Suffering and Satan’s Hand in It”):
Satan is sometimes called in the Bible “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11) or “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) or “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), or a “cosmic power over this present darkness” (Ephesians 6:12). Which means that we should probably take him seriously when it says in Luke 4:5-7 that “The devil took Jesus up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, ‘To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.’”
And of course that is strictly true: If the sovereign of the universe bows in worshipful submission to anyone, that one becomes the sovereign of the universe. But Satan’s claim that he can give the authority and glory of world kingdoms to whomever he wills is a half truth. No doubt he does play havoc in the world by maneuvering a Stalin or a Hitler or an Idi Amin or Bloody Mary or Saddam Hussein into murderous power. But he does this only at God’s permission and within God’s appointed limits.
This is made clear over and over again in the Bible. For example, Daniel 2:20, “Daniel answered and said: ‘Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings.’” And Daniel 4:17, “The Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” And when the kings are in their God-appointed place, with or without Satan’s agency, they are in the sway of God’s sovereign will, as Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.”
Evil nations rise and set themselves against the Almighty. “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision” (Psalm 2:2-4). And do they think that their sin and evil and rebellion against him can thwart the counsel of the Lord? Psalm 33:10-11 answers, “The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.”
God is sovereign over the nations and over all their rulers and all the Satanic power behind them. They do not move without his permission, and they do not move outside his sovereign plan.
When you, as a believer in Christ, face temptation today remember that Satan is not sovereign, Christ is. Remember that it is possible for you not to sin (1 Jn. 2:1). And remember that this temptation may be an opportunity to demonstrate the worth and value and supremacy of Christ in your life. And thereby, what Satan has designed for your fall and destruction, God is using for your good and His glory.