Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tempted of the devil

Let's take a look at the fourth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew.

Matthew 4:1-2 KJV - [1] Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. [2] And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.

Forty days. I find myself hungry after forty minutes. Jesus was as much man as we are. He got hungry. Jesus was tempted just like we are tempted.

Hebrews 4:15 KJV - [15] For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

The difference is, well, He is Jesus! He is our high priest, come down to be a man, tempted just like we get tempted every day, and yet, He managed to not sin.

Matthew 4:3-4 KJV - [3] And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. [4] 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.

This is so like the devil. The devil knew Jesus was hungry. Jesus was out there in the desert for 40 days, and the devil waited until day 40 to bug Jesus. The devil waits until you are vulnerable before he tempts you. The devil knows when you might give in to "just this one time".
Also, notice how the devil throws a little bit of doubt in Jesus' direction? "If thou be the Son of God..." You can hear the challenge in there, too. "If you're really God, you should be able to do what you want, right?"

Jesus could have responded to the devil's call in a variety of ways. He could have struck the devil dead right there on the spot. I wish He did. But, that would not have fit in with God's plan as revealed in the Book of Revelation. Jesus could have turned His back to the devil and ignored him, much like that useless advice teachers give to students. But bullies don't go away or quit teasing you just because you ignore them, that's why they are bullies. Evil persists. But how did Jesus respond to the devil? He responded with the Bible. "It is written."

You know the Bible is a weapon?

Hebrews 4:12 KJV - [12] For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

So Jesus' response to the devil was basically a stab right back at him.

The devil, he is a persistent creature. He doesn't give up on tempting us, and he didn't give up on tempting Jesus either.

Matthew 4:5-6 KJV - [5] Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, [6] 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.

You see how it said the devil took Jesus into town? Let me tell you what; if the devil offers to drive you somewhere in his car, don't go! The devil even took Jesus to church. But of course, the devil didn't take Jesus there to worship and be part of the service. He dares Jesus to leap off of the roof. I mean, the devil knows Jesus wasn't going to go 'splat' on the ground, so why bother with the high school dare?

You ever notice that when somebody takes advantage of you, it is rarely just a one-time thing? One thing leads to another. One evil act leads to an even more evil act. And it often starts out very small. So maybe the devil was hoping that Jesus would play along and jump off the roof, so that the next dare would be even more dangerous.

Well, Jesus again responds with a stab to the heart.

Matthew 4:7 KJV - [7] Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

"It is written." Hit the devil with what hurts, the Word of God. When you get tempted, don't sit there pondering the temptation. Throw the Word of God at your temptation.

Philippians 4:13 KJV - [13] I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

1 John 4:4 KJV - [4] Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

And don't let your past drag you down, either. You may have given into that sin before, but every new temptation is a new chance at victory.

Proverbs 24:16 KJV - [16] For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.

Now as for the devil, he has not given up yet on tempting Jesus.

Matthew 4:8-9 KJV - [8] 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; [9] And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

The devil offers Jesus exceeding wealth and fame, and all he asks for in return is some respect. Is that too much to ask? Well, yes, it is. Besides, what makes the devil think the world is his to offer in the first place?

Psalm 24:1 KJV - [1] [[A Psalm of David.]] The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

Exodus 20:11 KJV - [11] For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Sounds like it belongs to God, not the devil. That doesn't keep the devil from pretending. Here in Anchorage a few months back the news was covering a story about a scam artist. This guy was renting out houses and apartments to people, collecting the first month's rent and a security deposit. The thing is, though, that guy didn't own those houses at all! He simply took the money and left town. That's the devil for you. He offers what isn't his to offer. He offers us junk and tells us it is treasure. He is a liar and the father of lies.

John 8:44b KJV - ...there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

So what was Jesus' response to the devil this time?

Matthew 4:10-11 KJV - [10] 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. [11] Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

That response worked for Jesus, and it'll work for us. "devil, get lost!" And after Jesus stood His ground, angels came and ministered to Him. We need to be encouraged in that.

So in summary, when the devil tries to tempt you, hit 'em with the Word of God. Stick it to him!