Three Temptations to Misuse Principle

Temptation is defined as the act of tempting; enticement to evil by arguments, by flattery, or by the offer of some real or apparent good. ‘When the devil had ended all the temptation he departed from him for a season.’—Luke 4:13. Solicitation of the passions; enticements to evil proceeding from the prospect of pleasure or advantage. The state of being tempted or enticed to evil. When by human weakness you are led into temptation resort to prayer for relief. Trial: ‘Lead us not into temptation.’ That which is presented to the mind as an inducement to evil.Webster’s American Dictionary. Synonyms for temptation include: allurement, enticement, lure, and seduction.

The three temptations in the wilderness, recounted in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, occurred in the interim between Jesus’ baptism in the Holy Spirit through his cousin John the Baptist, and just before he began his public ministry. He was led into the wilderness where Satan tempted him to disobey law three different ways.

While the Gospels describe these initiations as a single series of events, they are recurring and cyclic in the life of every member of the elect; you face these tests annually, and each time you advance a step or degree in ascension. All temptations are initiations testing your relation to divine Mind, Substance, or Power. You face the Three Temptations each time you repeat any phase of the Mystic Degree. The three Temptations on the misuse of principle are an integral part of your observance of Lent as you walk the Via Christa.

Edna Lister on the Three Temptations

The three temptations are on the misuse of divine Substance, of Mind, and of Power. All who enter the Via Christa Path of Initiation face these temptations on the Adept Degree, after they have learned how to demonstrate. Yet, when you achieve the Master Degree, the temptations deal with self-centered interpretations of law.—Edna Lister, Three Temptations on the Way, November 12, 1950.

Jesus was a high priest in the Order of Melchizedek, an Order of Begotten Gods. Melchizedek, King of Salem, is the Ancient of Days, the Supreme Father Himself, who walked earth at stated times. We call Jesus the first and only Begotten Son because he was the first to step forth from the Source of All Light as personality. He is the only Son to hold God’s full scepter of Power in his hands.

Jesus had to suffer all manners of human trials or he would not have developed complete compassion and understanding. He had to sacrifice self and become fully obedient and compassionate. Jesus’ three temptations in the wilderness were to see if he would pick up the scepter of Power to use it for himself. He later used it to multiply the loaves and fishes, at the tomb when he raised Lazarus from the dead, and for all the miracles he performed, none of which was for the self.—Edna Lister, Seeing the Salvation of God, November 22, 1953.

When Jesus went out into wilderness, he faced three great temptations. You face three new temptations to pass through on every new level in consciousness you touch. Boasting always brings a fresh challenge.—Edna Lister, Jesus, the Man of God, December 5, 1954.

You can take thirty Via Christa Degrees wholly while on earth by study and attending classes, or while on soul flights at night when your body is asleep. However, all examinations and promotions originate in daily living on earth. In all the examinations, you meet three temptations on Mind, Substance, and Power, symbolic of those temptations Christ faced during his forty days in the wilderness. These temptations always cover what you lack, your weak points, such as criticism, intellectual pride, arrogance, opinions, prejudice and revenge motives. The three temptations are the polishing, a postgraduate course in conquering.—Edna Lister, The 33 Degrees of Soul Conquering, October 13, 1959.

An initiation consists in an illumination or a vision to achieve a higher goal, praying, and recognizing the law and what you must surrender. A new vision demands that you throw out more ballast of self so you can go higher, then vow to practice the new law. When you think, "Now I’ve got it. I’ll never do that again," the test comes to prove your words. If you find yourself eating your words, you haven’t quite got it yet. Go on after falling flat on your face and thinking how mean God is. Start again and face the three temptations on the misuse of Substance, Mind and Power in very subtle ways. All your petty demonstrations of "I will," "I won’t," and every boast you have ever made confronts you, because you are scraping all your taints clean.—Edna Lister, May 27, 1961.

During Lent, the religious souls work specifically with the three temptations. We work with them all through the year.—Edna Lister, The Ten Lepers, November 15, 1964.

During the forty days and temptations in the wilderness, Jesus chose between proclaiming himself the Messiah for whom they were waiting, and walking as a Son of Man, alone, knowing where he had to go and what he had to suffer. His sacrifice was to follow the Via Christa Way, which is why we know that God cannot fail or allow evil to take over. Although we may not see the way, we know with supreme confidence.—Edna Lister, The Good Shepherd, February 14, 1965.

The three temptations are the misuse of Substance, Power and Mind. All you need do is to watch, look before leaping, stop and listen before replying, and step carefully in the next footstep. You will have challenges; watch for them.—Edna Lister, November 19, 1965.

Jesus went into the wilderness to undergo testing through three temptations on the physical, emotional-mental and spiritual levels. These match the Ten Commandments and coordinate with them, covering obedience, correct use of will and freedom of choice. The Ten Commandments teach you how to obey. The three temptations show you how to meet physical laws and what to do about them.—Edna Lister, Religion and the World, November 5, 1967.

To conquer the emotions, the Mystic must maintain constant communion with God. The Mystic faces the three temptations on the negative use of Mind, Power and Substance, or intellectualism in imagination, thinking and desire, which represent conquering the Ten Commandments on the mental level.—Edna Lister, Religion in the Modern Western World, October 22, 1968.

Once you have passed the three temptations, you stand on the pinnacle of your Mount of Transfiguration, as conquerors.—Edna Lister, February 23, 1969.

The three temptations in the wilderness are part of the mystical path of initiation.—Edna Lister, May 8, 1969.

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Jesus Is Tempted in the Wilderness

Matthew’s Account: Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, 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. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.—Matthew 4:1-11.

Mark’s Account: And immediately the spirit driveth him into the wilderness. And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.—Mark 1:12-13.

Luke’s Account: Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season. And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.—Luke 4:1-14.

John’s Account: The Gospel of John does not contain the story of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. Instead, it moves straight from Jesus’ baptism by his cousin John to Jesus calling his first two disciples.

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New Testament on Temptation

And when much people were gathered together, and were come to [Jesus] out of every city, he spake by a parable: A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.—Luke 8:4-13.

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.—James 1:12-15.

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The Lord will be found by those who tempt Him not; and shows Himself to those who trust him.—Wisdom of Solomon 1:2.

If you come to serve the Lord, prepare your soul for temptation.—Wisdom of Ben Sirach 2:1.

Before you pray, prepare yourself; and be not as one who tempts the Lord.—Wisdom of Ben Sirach 18:23.

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Edna Miriam Lister
The original Christian Pioneering Mystic,
Platonist philosopher, American Idealist, Founder, Society of the Universal Living Christ, minister, teacher, author, wife, and mother.

Edna Lister

Etymology of tempt: Latin temptare "to feel, try out, attempt to influence, test."

All forms of temptation are initiations.


Harper, Douglas. Online Etymology Dictionary, 2024.

The Holy Bible. King James Version (KJV).

The Nag Hammadi Library. James M. Robinson, ed. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1988.

Webster, Noah. Webster’s American Dictionary. New York: S. Converse, 1828.

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