Rarely does satan swoop in and capture us in one mighty victorious battle. Remember he slithers! He sneaks in and has a remarkable ability to look like just one of the guys.
But, he comes out of hiding just long enough to plant a seed or two of distrust. And from there, it is usually a slam dunk, as his deal looks better and better. Satan knows he doesn’t have the better deal. So he has to start with the basics. Cut away at our very identity.
Would God Ever Tempt His Own?
I was shocked when I read Luke 4:1 and realized Who it was that led the newly baptized Jesus into the desert.
Jesus, full of The Holy Spirit,
left the Jordan and was led by The Spirit
into the wilderness,
where for forty days
He was tempted by the devil.
Note: God did not tempt Jesus. The Holy Spirit did not tempt Jesus. But They allowed the devil to tempt Him.
Why would God do such a thing? He had just proclaimed His Love for His Son! Thus, begins the first “step back” of many as to whether they can trust God. By the time we get to the cross, many are sure they do not want the kind of Father Who would put them in such circumstances.
Why does God allow us to be tried and tested? Because He’s not going to send us out into a world of evil, just to get creamed. He wants us prepared for what we are about to face.
Is God testing us to see what we are made of? No! He knows what we are capable of in Him. He tests us, so we know!
Why would Jesus be a target of tempting? Shouldn’t it be easy for Him to resist temptation? He is One with God and The Holy Spirit! True, but guess what — you are also a part of their Oneness!
Jesus promised He would be in us and we would be in Him and we would all be together with the Father and Holy Spirit. But knowing how to use what you have is different from just having it. You might have a wonderful, classy car, but if you had no idea how to drive it, you would not go anywhere just sitting in the driver’s seat!
Jesus came to show us how to live and function in their Oneness. He lived life as a human to show us up close and personal what to do. His human side felt real physical hunger. His human body would have been quite satisfied with some real food!
Paul recorded in Hebrews 4:15,
For we do not have a High Priest,
Who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses,
but we have One Who has been tempted
in every way, just as we are —
yet He did not sin.
Get Your Sword!
God allowed Jesus to be tempted by satan. How did Jesus stand up to satan without sinning? He stuck to just what His Father had taught Him. Use My Word! Remember Who You Are!
John 1:1 tells us,
In the beginning was The Word
and the Word was with God
and the Word was God!
Paul would later refer to the Power of That Word, as recorded in Ephesians 6:17.
Take the helmet of salvation
and the Sword of The Spirit,
which is The Word of God!
Paul also revealed another Truth, as recorded in Hebrews 4:12.
For The Word of God is alive and active!
Sharper than any double-edged sword,
it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit,
joints and marrow;
it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart!
Round One: Who Do You Think You Are?
Satan came at Jesus again and again for 40 days in the desert. One of satan’s tactics is to come again and again and wear us out. He is hoping we will become so disoriented and discouraged that he can make a few final blows and get a knock out. So after 40 days, satan thought Jesus was far enough gone that he could surely finish Him off.
He knew Jesus was very hungry. So, he tried his usual tactics.
As recorded in Matthew 4:3,
The tempter came to Him and said,
“If You are The Son of God,
tell these stones to become bread.”
Satan first cast doubt on Who Jesus was. (IF you are The Son of God)
Then he tempted Jesus to believe He was in charge above God and The Holy Spirit. Jesus was, in fact, a part of the Oneness of God and The Holy Spirit. But, Jesus would later remind His Followers, as recorded in John 14:31,
I do exactly what My Father has commanded Me!
Then satan tempted Jesus to believe that what was not fit to eat was really something great to eat.
This was Jesus’ Test. How did He answer Challenge Number One?
Jesus knew Who He was! He picked up the Sword of The Spirit and used it! Matthew 4:4 records,
Jesus answered, “It is written:
Man shall not live on bread alone,
but on every Word
that comes from The Mouth of God!”
Satan was surprised. Perhaps this was not going to be as easy as he thought. In essence, satan said, “OK, smarty. You think you know The Word. Let’s see how smart You are. I can use the Word too. Wanna know what it says … here goes!”
Round Two: So You Think You Know God’s Word?
Matthew 4:5-6 records,
Then the devil took Him to the Holy City
and had Him stand on the highest point of the temple.
“IF you are The Son of God,” he said,
“throw Yourself down.
For it is written:
‘He will command His Angels concerning You;
and they will lift You up in their hands,
so that You will not strike Your Foot against a stone.’”
Did satan quote the Word correctly? Psalm 91:11-12 actually does say that! Here we see another favorite tactic of satan. He first did his usual of casting doubt on Who Jesus was. But then he proceeded to use The Word of God to tempt Jesus into doing something God would not want Him to do.
The practice of “proof texting” or finding something that seems right is dangerous. The letters that make up satan’s name come from the same alphabet as the ones that make up Jesus’ name. It is how you arrange the letters and how you use them that make the difference!
How did Jesus answer Challenge Number Two? Matthew 4:7 records,
Jesus answered him,
“It is also written,
‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test!’”
Jesus didn’t even dignify satan’s quoting of the scripture. Jesus again used The Word in the right way and asserted Who He was. In essence, Jesus said to satan, “God is in charge of this test. You are not!”
Round Three: You Can Have It All … IF …
OK, get ready. Satan was coming up to his third time to pitch to Jesus. He had to make it good. Matthew 4:8-9 records,
Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain
and showed Him all the Kingdoms of the world
and their splendor.
“All this, I will give You,” He said,
“if You will bow down
and worship me.”
Classic satan tactic. He promised something that was not his to give and something he would never be able to give. How his greedy little heart must have beat with lust, wishing it was his. But you may be assured, if it was his, he would not be sharing it with Jesus.
Now that satan was offering a deal, he was very clear about what he wanted as payment. He wanted the same thing he had wanted from the time he lived in heaven. He wanted to be God. He wanted to be worshipped. And sadly, it is possible he knows worship is the closest he will ever get to being loved.
How did Jesus do with Challenge Number Three? Matthew 4:10 records,
Jesus said to him,
“Away from Me, satan!
For it is written:
‘Worship The Lord your God,
and serve Him only!’”
Jesus put the devil on the run with a Command. He reaffirmed Who He was and Whose He was. He reaffirmed that He did exactly what the Father said.
Stop Saying That!!!
Why did satan give up then? He had to listen to the Command of God. But there is one more key piece.
Jesus answered Question Two and Question Three by reminding satan, not only of Who He (Jesus) was, but also by reminding satan of who he (satan) was. The Word in each case spoke directly to satan, reminding him that God was indeed his God too!
Jesus forced satan to remember he too was created by God and once lived in His Presence. Whether satan gave God his allegiance or not, the fact remained that God was His Creator and that would never change.
The Battle: It’s Not Over Until It’s Over!
Satan retreated. Was he gone for good? No. His absence is also one of his tactics. When we have fought the good fight, when we are licking our wounds, or rejoicing in our victories, satan is already planning a comeback.
Luke 4:13 records,
When the devil had finished
all this tempting,
he left Him until an opportune time.
Satan’s return sometimes causes some people to question whether God really has the Power to make him go away forever. God does, in fact, have that Power, but it is tied to our free will.
If we open the door, even just a crack to see if satan is really gone, he will cheerfully slither back in. Don’t let him! Pick up The Sword of The Spirit, The Word of God, and use it! James said it well when he said,
Resist the devil
and he will flee from you!
Points to Ponder
When God gives you a test, is it Love or is He just messing with you?
When you were in school, what was the purpose of tests?
If you did not do well on a test, what did you do to do better on the next one?
Are you using what you learned in the earlier tests of Life to do better on the tests you are now having? What have you learned that you can use now?
If you are going through a test right now, quote the Word of God with confidence. Remember the Power of God’s Name. Use “I AM”, with confidence, following it with The Pure Word of God!
If you are not going through a test, get ready for the next one! And praise God for this season of refreshing!
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