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Entries in Devil (4)

Tuesday
Dec062016

Do not Test the Lord Your God

Matthew 4:5-7.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on December 04, 2016.

Today we continue our study of the temptation of Christ that we see in Matthew 4, and look at the second one presented to our Lord.  If the first temptation was to satisfy and sustain yourself with material things, then the second temptation is to promote yourself and make things happen by your own wisdom.  Another way to categorize these three temptation is to use the phrases that are given in 1 John 2:16, “For all that is in the world- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life- is not of the Father, but is of the world.”  The first temptation appealed to the lust of the flesh (make bread for your stomach).  This second one seems to be more about the pride of life.

All of us deal with issues of significance and often desire situations in which we are exalted above our fellow man.  Satan loves to play off of these desires and mislead us into a path of destruction.  For some this path leads them towards religion, but twists it with human pride.  For others the path may lead them away from religion out of a wounded pride.  Either way he wins because there is no other solution for the hearts of mankind than the Creator Himself.  So the first are walled off to Him by the self-delusion that they are acceptable, and the second wall themselves off to Him out of their pain.  May we all learn to lay our pride at the foot of the cross of Jesus and thereby remove from Satan’s arsenal a very powerful, spiritual lever that he loves to employ against us.

 We are tempted by pride

It is often said that Satan fell through pride in his own wisdom and beauty.  Thus it would stand to reason that he would seek to enamor us with his own prideful reasoning.  The Bible does not make it completely clear whether Satan knows he was wrong and is operating out of sheer spite, or whether he still thinks there is a play here where he actually “proves his case” and wins.  Regardless we must expect to be tempted in this area of pride.

We see in verse 5 that the devil takes Jesus up to the highest point of the temple.  It is not really important the mode of this travel, though many can speculate.  The setting is a place that no one may see immediately (while he is being tempted).  But if he listens to the devil there will be a very public spectacle.  How could jumping from of a height that was as much as several hundred feet be tempting?

It starts with being reminded of his relationship with the Father.  The first temptation tries to paint the Father as not taking care of Jesus.  “God doesn’t care about you as much as you think.  Make your own bread.”  However, this temptation does the opposite.  It plays on the pride of such a close relationship with the Father.  “Since you are the Son of God make a public show of God’s love for you.  There is no way He would let you die.”  Of course the devil makes no mention or shows no regard for what the Father’s plan might be.  Jesus loves the Father and has been in a relationship of unity with Him since the beginning.  So He is not only concerned with what the Father wants, but already knows that what Satan suggests is not the plan. 

So what does Satan hope to accomplish?  It is tough to say.  Perhaps he hopes to try and thwart any spiritual help that would come with his own angels, so that Jesus would die.  Clearly he seeks to kill Jesus because of the cross later.  Let’s get one thing clear.  Satan is not interested in promoting Jesus and he could care less about promoting you.  In the end his only aim is to destroy your life.  If he can do that by inflating your pride in your relationship with God, then he will.

Notice that this time Satan backs up his temptation by quoting Scripture.  His first temptation was pushed aside by Jesus reminding him of Scripture.  So he tries to reverse this tactic back on Jesus by quoting some Scripture himself.  One thing is clear in the Bible; the devil always twists the meaning of God’s Word.  He is only capable of abusing Scripture for his own ends, which are contrary to God’s.  An illustration of this can be seen in politics.  Every word of an opponent is generally twisted out of context and used against them by the other side.  Finding a truly, objective treatment of the person is rare.  As Christians we must flee this kind of activity in our own life.  2 Timothy 2:15 says that we must “rightly divide [handle] the word of truth.”  We can see that the devil does not do such a thing but twists the meaning of Psalm 91 by skipping phrases and leaving out the context.  So let’s look at this section of Psalm 91.

Satan quotes from verse 11, skips the second part of it, quotes verse 12, and leaves off verse 13.  It is always important to pay attention to what is left out.  Notice that God’s angels would be commanded to watch over the righteous “to keep you in all your ways.”  The way of a person is a huge theme in the Bible.  In fact the righteous are known by their determination to walk in the “way of the Lord.”  Thus the passage is about a person who is in a trusting relationship with God and living as God has taught us.  When God’s ways are our ways then the devil will find little within us that he can manipulate.  Now verse 12 points out that God’s protection is upon the righteous.  But verse 13 shows why.  We are protected in order to tread upon the lion and the cobra.  Now this is not a passage about handling literal lions and cobras, although God is more than capable of delivering the righteous from such.  There is never a case of people “treading” on lions and cobras in the Bible so that should be your first clue that something deeper is going on here.  The lion and cobra are metaphors for our spiritual enemy, the devil.   1 Peter 5:8 says, “Your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.”  God doesn’t necessarily protect us from ever falling down literally.  But He does offer constant protection so that we may never fall to the schemes of the devil and be devoured by Him.  Similarly, in Revelation 12:9 it says, “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world.”  The “serpent of old” is an allusion to Genesis 3 and the Fall of Adam and Eve.  Adam and Eve fell before the Serpent (Satan) because they were tricked into distrusting God.  Clearly Satan doesn’t want to quote this part of the passage and highlight that angelic protection is so that we can tread on the devil, not cooperate with his plans.

However, Jesus does not go into Psalm 91 and point these things out to Satan because there is an even greater context to these verses.  All Scripture is context to any one verse.  A very powerful thing about Scripture is that its proper understanding will not contradict any other part.  If it seems to then you know there is an error in your understanding.  So, dig deeper.  Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:16.  Yes, God will protect you along your way.  But we also, must not test Him in this.  Now, God is gracious and many of us have been in times of weak faith and have asked God to give us a sign of his love.  If we do so without the threat of walking away from Him then He sometimes graciously responds.  But, if you lay down something as a test that God must pass or you are walking away, then beware.  Such actions are not born out of a loving relationship with God, but out of selfish love for yourself.  Beware of those who trumpet on Scripture to the detriment of the rest of Scripture.  This is classic cult leader stuff.

We must not put God to the test

So let’s develop that last point that Jesus makes to the devil.  The Holy Spirit had not led Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple; the devil had.  In our own lives it is not always so clear who is leading us.  Thus we must be careful to recognize anything that smacks of trying to force God’s hand, or trying to speed up things.  This is manipulation of the relationship that God wants with us.  Now, a parent loves a child, but would be foolish to allow the child to fall into the habit of trying to manipulate them.  Of course, kids are learning how to love.  They don’t understand such deeper concepts.  It takes a parent who loves them too much to let them get away with it, a parent who disciplines them in such times, in order to help a child grow in love.  Just as your flesh desires material things, so it desires the pride of life: public success, and the accolades of those around us.  Satan plays off of these things.  Yet, Jesus did not operate in such a way as to lift himself up, or try to out think the plan of God.  In fact, Jesus often did the opposite of what self-promoters would do.  Jesus pointed us to the Father and for such a blessing he was crucified.  That was to be his public moment of demonstrating the love of the Father.

But it goes deeper than just crass manipulation.  We cannot force God to demonstrate His love as we dictate.  When a person lays down an ultimatum to God, “either you do this or I walk,” we step out onto shaky ground.  God in His grace does work with our weakness.  Gideon was given a sign by God.  Yet, we must always have as our foundation, “Nevertheless, Thy will be done.”  In fact, God gave the greatest demonstration of love possible when He gave His One and Only Son to become a man and do for us what we could not do for ourselves.  All this is so that whosoever would believe on Jesus would have everlasting life instead of perishing.  It is easy for us to do this to one another.  We can be angry and made that someone didn’t show their love in a particular way.  We can even do the politician thing and twist everything that they do or say into “not love.”  But when we act this way we actually destroy the very love that is being given to us.  Too many people say, “If God would only do such and such, then I would know that He exists and that He cares about me.”  The problem is that you are trying to control God and refusing to deal with the countless ways that He has demonstrated His love for you.  So we can push aside 1,000 ways of love and complain that we did not receive a particular 1.  This is folly and not the path of love.  Love is a discovery of the uniqueness of another and how we can uniquely love them back.  How can we demand more than that?  Love doesn’t dictate how another person loves.  Rather, it receives it freely and with Joy.

Do not Test audio

Tuesday
Apr232013

The Holy Spirit in Spiritual Warfare

Today we are going to look at how the Holy Spirit is involved in Spiritual Warfare.  We are going to start in Ephesians 6:10-12.  When we look at this passage the work of the Spirit doesn’t readily jump out.  But in truth, He is all over the place in this passage.

Now before we begin let’s keep in mind that spiritual warfare is not some kind of mental video game where we visualize slashing demons from behind every tree.  The truth is found in this passage and understanding just how we fight the enemy.

 

He Helps Us Stand Against The Devil

These two verses emphasize the need for believers to lean upon God’s strength and His armor.  Since it is by the Holy Spirit that we know the Father and the Son, it stands to reason that the main way God’s strength and protection come to us is through His Holy Spirit that lives within us.

Now the reality is this, there are evil spirits in this world.  Now the occult world has tried to minimize this by saying that there are also good spirits that we can tap into and be protected.  However, the only spirit in the Bible we are given the green light to seek and approach is the Holy Spirit.  Thus the idea, that the spirit of long dead Grandpa being summoned to give us wisdom is actually a spiritual trick that the enemy uses to trap people.

Notice, that this passage lets us know that without the help of the Spirit of God we are not going to be a match for these kinds of tricks.  The Bible is an excellent source for studying the methods and schemes of the devil.  He employs many different “cons” on people in order to get them under his control.  However, the Holy Spirit within us-who was also directly involved in the writing of Scripture, can also give us warnings from within us.  This is where we need to truly be in prayer and sensitive to what God may be saying.  Anything short of complete dependence upon God and His wisdom will cause us to be entrapped by these demonic schemes.

Another thing to notice in Spiritual Warfare is that our enemy is not a physical enemy.  We are not fighting against people or nations even when they are treating us as their enemy.  In fact, demonic ideas and beliefs always lie behind those who mistreat us.  We don’t “see” them or sense them.  Rather, we recognize their influence through teachings, beliefs, lies, sinful lifestyles, and attitudes, whether they are religious or secular.  Thus we need the Holy Spirit to help us see how the enemy uses others to try and promote ungodly lies to us and to see through this.  The people themselves may not be even aware of this dynamic.  Thus our problem is not generally with someone who is possessed by a demon, but rather with someone who has been tricked and trapped into an ungodly mentality.  Recognizing this will go a long way to helping us keep from getting angry with people and avoiding the pitfalls the enemy sets for us through them.

He Helps Us Advance Against The Devil

Now the next verses in Ephesians 6:13-18 lay out the “Armor of God.”  Paul uses the armor of a Roman soldier to help us recognize the reality and seriousness of the battle around us.  We need to be spiritually prepared.  It will not come by dreaming about slaying demons.  It comes from listening to God’s Word, doing it, getting knocked down, getting back up, and repeat over and over again.

Though much of this armor seems defensive, many of them also have an offensive aspect as well.  Just as the battle is not physical, so our protection and weaponry are not physical as well.  So let’s look at the list.

The belt of Truth points the believer to live their life based on the Truth of God’s Word, especially the Truth about Jesus.  We should be truthful and receive a love of the Truth that the Holy Spirit is seeking to give us.  In fact in John 16:13 The Holy Spirit is called the “Spirit of Truth.”  Thus, we should have an intimate relationship with the Scriptures and spend time in prayer understanding it. We need to make truthfulness the basis of all our relationships.  This is not only a protection, but it is a weapon that God uses to set us and others free.

Next is the Breastplate of Righteousness.  Foremost we are to understand the need for the righteousness of God.  My righteousness falls short without Jesus.  Within the covering of His righteousness then we can embrace doing the right thing.  In fact part of the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of righteousness.  How much more can he lead the believer in living out the righteousness of Christ is this world?  As we lean on Him, He will help us to live righteously and treat people as God would have us.

Next is the Gospel of Peace.  Paul ties this in with the feet particularly because in the Old Testament the prophet says, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of them who bring good news.”  The Gospel of Peace with God through Jesus needs to be the flag of every believer’s life.  Thus our feet are prepared to walk tough roads, whether to distant places or across the street, in order to share the Gospel.  This too is aided by the Holy Spirit as He leads and directs us in this endeavor.  Part of our preparation to share the Gospel is knowing the Word.  2 Timothy 2:15 tells us to study to show ourselves as approved workmen.  Yet the other side of it is to recognize that because we have studied and internalized the Word, the Holy Spirit comes along and directs us in what to say.  In fact Jesus promised His disciples in Matthew 10:19-20, “Do not worry about how or what you should speak.  For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”  Wow, what a promise for those who take this spiritual battle seriously.

Paul goes on to mention the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the Sword of the Spirit, Prayer of all kinds and in the Spirit. The Spirit is involved in bringing us to Faith and Salvation.  Also the Sword of the Spirit implies that though we may quote Scripture and share it with others, it really is the Holy Spirit who is using it like a spiritual knife to cut through the layers down to the tender part of their heart.  Prayer becomes important for us and for those that we battle.  In all kinds of prayer and praying in the Spirit we present our needs and also present ourselves for strengthening.  When we live a life filled with these things we combat the enemy in our life and the lives of those around us.  No wonder the enemy spends so much time undermining our faith in God’s Word.

Now I do want to take some time to talk about demon possession because it is a real phenomenon.  Though it seems common place in Scripture we do need to realize that our culture exists upon the foundation of the Christian ethic.  In countries that do not have a biblical foundation demon possession is not rare.  Today anti-spiritualists try to explain everything away as mental illness and of course mental illness does exist.  In fact, Jesus didn’t cast demons out of everyone, some he simply healed.  So, even the Bible recognizes that sometime the problem is merely physical.  However, sometimes a spiritual element exists beyond the physical.  Most likely we will see more and more of this in our country as we continue to cast off Biblical guidance and wisdom.

If you look at the passage in Acts 19:13-17, you will see Paul in the city of Ephesus.  God was doing unusually powerful miracles through Paul there.  Part of that was the deliverance of those who were demon possessed.  It caught the attention of many in Ephesus.  They had tried to deal with the demon possessed people in the past without any effect.  In this passage 7 sons of a Jewish chief priest named Sceva try to copy what Paul was doing.  Thus they go up to a demon possessed person and say, “we exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.”  The Bible says that the evil spirit responded, “Jesus I know and Paul I know; but who are you?”  Then the man jumped on the 7 guys and proceeded to overpower all of them until they ran from the house naked and wounded.

Here we see that without a true living relationship with Jesus himself, we are not prepared for spiritual battle.  No “magical” phrase will make demons come out of a person.  In fact demons don’t always manifest brutally.  Sometimes they come on sickly sweet.

Jesus told his disciples that some demons are harder to cast out than others.  In fact we need to pray and fast as we approach such serious business.  The demon has invested a lot of work to get control of a person and they will try every trick to remain.  The key is that Jesus has all authority over all spirits, both good and evil.  Thus as long as we are anchored in Jesus and take the situation seriously, we can grow in learning how to combat such unseen enemies.

Final Thoughts

Living for Jesus and sharing the Gospel is God’s plan against the enemy.  This doesn’t need to change because we are closer to the end times.  It is simple and yet serious.  When we have the Holy Spirit in us we become a light in a dark world.  How important it is for us to work with Him to take down any strongholds in our life and to take that light into the lives of those who are bound under ideas and philosophies of demons.

When you speak to the lost, pray for insight in how the enemy has trapped them and how to use the Truth to set them free.  Sometimes we can be saying true things, but they are the point that attacks the lie that they have believed.  Take time in prayer and in asking questions and simply listening so that then you can truly be a warrior for God in this life.

 

Tuesday
Feb262013

Instructions to the Flock

In 1 Peter 5:5, we move from talking to the elders to talking to the “youngers.”  If God puts elders in authority then those who are not elders need to submit to that authority.  Submission has been a big theme in Peter’s letter.  It started back in chapter 2 when he told the believers to submit to the human governments.  Then he spoke to slaves about submitting to their masters.  Next he spoke to wives about submitting to their husbands.  He even mentions that, after the cross, all angels and spiritual authorities are submitted to Christ.  This last “submission” is for the Church body to its leaders.

Remember that the definition of submission is this: taking your proper place under a proper authority.  This definition hinges on the terms proper.  It is the Word of God that makes something proper.  Thus, we are not called to submit to everything or one that purports it is an authority.  But when we do recognize proper authority, even then, we submit to it in the proper way.  Thus it does not call for the Church body to become slavishly obedient to the whims of Church leaders.  So let’s look at what Peter has to say here.

We Should Submit To The Elders

I recognize, again, that submission has been abused by leaders.  Thus the virtue of submission requires us to use our minds and listen to God’s Word.  Submission to godly leadership does have boundaries.  They are not God and can take unscriptural positions.  However, as a virtue, submission recognizes that I too am a sinner in need of restraint.  Thus it is only proper that God should place proper authorities over me in appropriate ways.  Leaders should not be telling members who to marry.  But we should listen when they remind us of the Scripture’s injunction to not marry unbelievers.  They are the elders who have a more mature spiritual wisdom and understanding.  I am the “younger” and not just in age.  Those who are not put in leadership should carefully follow those who have been put in leadership as a child should listen to its parents.  Again, this is within Scriptural bounds.

The term “likewise” is used to point us back to the elders.  In the same way they are to submit to Christ’s calling on their life, so we too must submit to it.  How were they supposed to respond?  They were supposed to respond willingly rather than being forced into it (vs. 2).  They were supposed to eagerly serve with pure motives rather than for dishonest gain.  They were supposed to serve as examples rather than “lording” their authority over the Church.  Thus the body of Christ also needs to submit willingly without being forced.  We should be eager to submit with pure motives rather than for dishonest gain, i.e. manipulating.  We should be quick to follow the “right” examples rather than those elders who fall into coercive tactics.  When both elders and “youngers” properly respond to the Lord this can be a beautiful environment where God speaks to us in his Word and confirms it with the leading of elders.  This environment is a protective environment that keeps us spiritually safe.

The Church Should Be Mutually Submitted

Here Peter moves beyond the elder / flock distinction and speaks to the Church as a whole.  The overall or general atmosphere of the Church should be defined by mutual submission.  But under what authority do we submit to one another?  First, we do so under the authority of God’s Word.  But second, we do so under the authority of the demands of Love (i.e. God’s nature).  In love we learn to humble ourselves to serve and to be served.  Elders are simply to lead us in this area of mutual submission and growing in the Truth of Christ.  We need to listen and be led by the “commands” of love.

Next Peter says that they should clothe themselves with humility.  The word used here is one of a servant tying an apron around them.  Humility must be the “uniform” that we tie on ourselves.  It identifies us as one of Christ’s flock.  It is symbolic of the time when Jesus tied on a towel and washed his disciple’s feet.  If we serve without a humble mind it spoils the service.  But, those being washed have to humble themselves, too.  Peter was quick to tell the Lord he couldn’t wash his feet.  But Jesus told him if he didn’t wash Peter’s feet that Peter would have nothing with the Lord.  Oops!  “I take that back, Lord!  Wash all of me!”  We can be too quick to say that we don’t need any leadership.  However, it is God’s wisdom and we should not reject it.  To reject it is to jeopardize our position in Christ because we are rejecting the very Word of Christ.

Peter then quotes from Proverbs 3:34.  Believers ought to humble themselves beneath the “Mighty Hand” of God because God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.  The word resists here could better be translated as “sets himself against.”  If you walk in pride God sets himself against you.  Hmm… I wonder who will win?  Like the angel in the way before Balaam, God will stand against us if we walk in pride.  But if we humble ourselves he will be quick to give us grace.  Thus his hand is called mighty.  It is powerful in judgment to those who in their own wisdom walk in pride.  And, it is powerful in grace to those who are humble.  Which would you rather receive?

Final Instructions To Believers

On top of being submitted to the elders, Peter asks the believers to put their daily concerns upon the Lord.  When we carry around our “stuff” all the time, it leads to increased anxiety.  The picture has been used of rolling your burdens upon the Lord like the people in the middle east loaded up a camel. Let God do the heavy lifting of those daily concerns that tend to weigh us down.  When we do this we are enabled to help each other.  Can you imagine a worker showing up to move your furniture, but he has a 100 pound pack on his back and is holding an arm full of groceries?  If he is going to be any help at all he will need to unload himself first.  Peter shares this concern in the same vein.  We must learn to roll our burden onto Jesus if we are going to be able to help one another.  How do we do this?  First we do it through prayer.  When we talk through our anxieties and then ask God for his help, we begin to unload ourselves of much weight.  However, it also involves faith.  We need to trust that he really is caring for us.  This doesn’t mean he simply has emotions about our situation, but that he is also actually taking care of us.  We can talk to him about it, ask for help, and then quit worrying about it.  This unloading process is too often avoided in our lives.  It causes much pain and grief in our lives and the lives of others.

Next he tells them to be watchful over their souls.  This involves sobriety, i.e. not being drunk on the pleasures of this world.  And, it also involves vigilance.  The watchful shepherd is standing at attention, watching both the sheep and the hills for sign of trouble.  We need to take our spiritual condition serious and not get caught up in living life to please our flesh.  We have an enemy who is an equal opportunity eater.  Like a lion he will eat anything that isn’t ready for it.  So take your stand against the enemy.  Like David of old, do not rely upon your own wisdom and strength.  But, rather, rely upon the power and might of the Spirit of the Lord.  He can only devour those who are not sober and vigilant.  “Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.”

Final Thoughts

We can get so worried about the things of life that we forget; it is God who takes care of us.  Perhaps you are worried about all the things you shouldn’t be, and not worried about all the things you should?  Let the Spirit of God speak to your heart and correct you in this area.

Also, God has given us all the instructions we need to outwit the devil’s schemes.  We just need to trust him.  Godly leadership is a part of that.  Don’t settle for saying it doesn’t work.  Find a place where there are elders who trust God and are caring for the souls of those who attend that church.  You won’t always agree with them.  But humble yourself and let God use them to help watch over your soul.  In doing so you are thwarting the work of the devil in your life.

 

Instructions to Flock Audio

Tuesday
May222012

Facing the Schemes of the Devil

If you have become a child of God then you will need to learn to deal with temptation and to conquer it.  I don’t say this in a legalistic sense but, as the Bible shows us, we have an enemy who is working to try and either destroy our faith or neutralize it.  Let’s take some time looking at the temptation of Jesus by the devil in Matthew 4:1-11.

There Are Different Kinds Of Temptations

Three different attempts are made to tempt Jesus in this passage and they are very different.  We need to realize that Satan has a whole toolbox of tricks that he uses to trip up believers and unbelievers.  In Ephesians 6:11 the Bible says:

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (NKJV).

“Wiles” comes from the same root that we get the word “method.”  Thus our enemy has methods, strategies, and operations by which he tries to trap us.

Temptation #1, Jesus is tempted to please his flesh above the spiritual.  There is nothing wrong with eating bread.  However, Jesus had been “led” into the wilderness by the Spirit of God.  He was preparing himself for the coming ministry through prayer, fasting, and facing temptation.  Food was not a priority on this mission, but being in concert with the Father was.  The enemy loves to get us to focus on any desire of our flesh above the higher spiritual things of God.  But the stomach of Jesus is not the only target.  Satan target’s the pride of Jesus when he says, “If you are the son of God…”  This trick of the devil manipulates us to prove ourselves.  Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 8 that man lives by every word from God’s mouth, not just bread.   When you look into the context of that verse you realize that Moses was telling Israel that God took them through the wilderness and allowed them to thirst and hunger, so that they might look past the bread and seek him.  It was a test.  Thus Jesus doesn’t just throw a bible verse at the devil, rather, he shows that he knows the heart of this temptation.  Good things can get between us and God.

Temptation #2, Jesus is tempted to use God’s Word for selfish gain.  In this temptation the devil takes Jesus to the highest point in the Temple and tries to get him to jump.  The reasoning is that the Bible promises that God will keep the messiah from dashing his foot against a stone.  God will be forced to supernaturally protect Jesus in front of the multitudes at the temple.  Thus Jesus will be accepted.  God’s Word is not given for us to twist to our own ends, or to manipulate God into accomplishing our desires.  This presumes upon the goodness of God.  God will not be played a fool.  Thus Jesus quotes a verse that says you shall not tempt the Lord your God.  How is this tempting God?  You are tempting God to quit giving you his goodness and to judge you.  We can do this today by using the amazing grace of Jesus as a license to sin.  God has promised to forgive us our sins.  Thus I can sin as much as I want and just ask forgiveness after the fact.  In Romans 6 Paul says, “God forbid.”  This kind of attitude is spiritually dangerous and tempts God to judge us.  It is important to note here that the devil can quote scripture.  It is always twisted and perverted out of its context but he makes it look good.  The Bible says that the devil transforms himself into an angel of light.  That means he comes looking as if he is God’s messenger to you.  He carries a bible and quotes scripture.  He may even have a church where he preaches every Sunday.  We need to verify for ourselves that any “teaching” from another really does line up with all the word of God.  Jesus doesn’t argue Satan’s verses.  Instead he points out that there are other Scriptures.  He quotes from Exodus 17 where Moses is reminding them of an incident where they were accusing Moses and God of bringing them into the desert to kill them.  God sent poisonous serpents into the assembly as a judgment to their accusatory demands.  They were in effect rejecting God’s way through the wilderness.  Was Jesus going to reject God’s way, which involved death on a cross, or would he try to force another way?

Temptation #3, Jesus is tempted to idolatry.  Satan doesn’t quote any scripture this time nor does he employ any subtlety either.  This temptation simply comes as a brute force attack.  Following God won’t work.  Just worship me and you will get it all in a far easier way.  Will you stick with God and receive what he has for you or will you worship another to get something “better?”  Many sell their souls to the devil for the fame and wealth of this world.  But it is always far less than it looks and it never satisfies.  Jesus saw through this blatant charade and reminds Satan that man should worship God alone.

God’s Children Will Face These Temptations And More

Whether Satan is subtle or not his temptations are always strong and must be resisted.  Several lessons can be learned as we look at this passage and meditate on it.  First, a battle always comes on the heels of times when we know that God has spoken.  In chapter 3 Jesus had just been baptized as the Holy Spirit descended upon him and the Father spoke from heaven, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.”  Yet, immediately the Spirit takes him into the wilderness where the tempter tries to bring him down.

Another lesson is that we need to face temptation privately in our hearts before we can truly conquer it in public.  We should never settle for merely looking like we have avoided temptation.  God will not settle for appearance only.  But on a different note, why live such a life that would not be filled with joy?  Often we need to get alone in prayer and the word and break down the lies of the enemy.  Perhaps we need some mature, godly counsel.  But don’t settle.  Lastly, the devil uses temptation to neutralize our ability to do anything for God.  God’s way makes us useful for others, but his way fixates us on ourselves.  You may be able to find some other lessons upon further study.

Satan uses temptation to try and destroy or at least neutralize our faith.  But, he also uses temptation to keep those who don’t know God trapped in the chains of sin.  Let’s be aware of the methods of the enemy and combat them in our life.  Let’s also be wise in how we approach the lost.  May God help us to demolish the lies of the enemy in their life through love and truth.

Facing the Schemes Audio