Let us pray: Dear Savior, we know how important it is to be humble when it comes to our relationship with You. For You are God Almighty, our Lord, our Savior, in Whom we live and move and have our very being. Without You we are literally nothing but carbon and dust. So, humility must be our watchword when it comes to You. Today teach us that the exact opposite is true when it comes to dealing with Satan. Teach us to never humble ourselves before him, but to stand up to him at every turn, armed with Your power and might. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO NEVER GAVE IN TO TEMPTATION!
TEXT: Matthew 4: 1-11
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
The great American humorist, Ogden Nash, once wrote: “I can resist anything except temptation”; and, “The only way to get rid of temptation is to give in to it.” Now, I don’t know if Ogden Nash went to church or not. But, those words do tell me that he knew nothing of Christ’s saving power, yes, power even over temptation.
As I mentioned in our opening prayer, Christians are trained from day one to be humble. That’s fine when it comes to our relationship with God and with other human beings. But, it’s not fine when it comes to temptation and to Satan. Christ didn’t bow or cow-tow to him and as His children, neither should we! And because Christ stood up to him at every turn and thereby won a victory for us, through faith that ability to say: “No” to Satan is transferred to us, as well. Take it! Grasp it! Seize it! Yes,
DON’T BE TIMID WHEN TEMPTATION COMES CALLING!
Satan is delusional. I say that because any angel who thought he could replace God in heaven and take over, like Satan did, is both foolish and delusional. It also reveals his proud, haughty nature which he still has today. Our lesson outlining Satan’s temptations of Christ reveals that haughty pride in spades. Think about this: Christ already cast Satan out of heaven and created hell for him to inhabit. Christ already showed him who’s really in charge of creation. Christ had blunted Satan’s attacks upon humans in countless ways throughout the Old Testament times. And now, now, Christ allows Himself to be led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted. You’d think Satan might ask himself: Why? “I’ve never bested Him before, why would Christ allow Himself to be vanquished by me now?” But, fool that he is, such thoughts don’t even occur to the devil. Because of his pride, he fails to recognize that Jesus is setting him up for yet another downfall.—And in the process winning us, His future surrogates, a tremendous victory!
When you take the reins you have to immediately show the horses who’s in charge. Otherwise, they will control you. I recall an event that happened many years ago. A college had their president resign in mid-term. An interim president was chosen. And do you know, the first thing he did was fire some people who were dead weight! The faculty was almost apoplectic! These were long-time employees who were well-known and well-liked. Since it happened right around Valentine’s day, it became know in those circles as the: Valentine’s day massacre. But, but, that new president was correct! Things sharpened up and improved immediately. Everyone got the message. The message in our text, the one Satan doesn’t get immediately, is that: Christ is in control. He allows Satan to tempt Him in order to show His power over such temptations!
Note well that Satan never accepts Christ’s divinity. In the first two temptations he begins with: “If you are the Son of God….” Obviously Jesus was. But Satan will never acknowledge it. And obviously Jesus has the power to change stones into bread to satisfy His hunger, or to leap off the temple peak and land gently on the ground. After all, He’s God. Satan’s temptations were designed to get Christ to question His divinity and to do the devil’s bidding to prove it. But, our in-charge Lord hurls such hubris right back in Satan’s face by using Scripture: “It is written” to blunt the devil’s assaults. Learn from your Lord, my friends. Use God’s all-powerful Word to tell Satan to “get lost” when he comes to tempt you! Don’t be timid when it comes to temptation. Confront it head-on, just as Christ did. And never forget, the devil had to back off to Christ and thus to you, as well, who employ His Word of truth and power!
The name: Jesus, is truly powerful. Sometimes we forget that fact. Recently a member told me how they had been having dark thoughts and how nasty emotions had seemingly taken over their psyche. Finally, in frustration, that member said out loud: “In the name of Jesus, leave me alone.” And you know what? Immediately that black cloud receded from their life! Yes, take charge, take control, don’t be timid. Jesus has to power to help you!
To me, the final temptation of Christ shows the delusional nature of Satan more than any other event in Scripture. “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.’”
I cannot even imagine such arrogance! Christ is the Lord of glory! He created heaven and earth. He keeps the universe going by the breath of His mouth. He already owns everything and everyone in the sense of His almighty power over them. And now, Satan thinks Christ will bow down to him in order to get what He already has? It’s ludicrous. But, such is the nature of the devil. He believes his own lie. Lives his own lie. And tries to get you and me to live a lie, too. For make no mistake, living in and with a sin, whatever it may be, is living a lie. That’s because God didn’t create you to live in sin, but to live in His grace and the peace that comes with it.
Our take-charge Lord deals with this temptation, too. “Away from me, Satan! For it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.”
God’s Word works. It can banish Satan from our lives. So, don’t be timid when he comes calling! Use God’s Word, use Christ, the Word made flesh, to hurl him back into hell where he belongs. Christ died for you. Christ saved your soul. Christ has made you His child through saving faith. And with all that comes power! Spiritual power to resist temptation and come out a winner. Yes, fix your eyes on Christ’s victories over Satan, use those triumphs, and then they will become your victories, too! Amen