Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Resisting Satan's temptations (Part 1)

Luke 4:1-13
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spiritinto the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. 
In this passage we see the temptation of Jesus, and from it we can learn a few things about how we are meant to "resist the devil" so he will "flee from us" (James 1:7).

Temptation 1
 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’” 
 What did he tempt Jesus with?

He tempted Jesus with two things: firstly to prove that he was the Son of God, to show his power in a way that God had not told him to and secondly to satisfy his hunger.

There is nothing wrong with either of those at face value: It is good to eat, and it's good to be honest about who you are. But that's one of Satans many tricks - he offers us good things at times where they are not good. For example: Sex outside of marriage. Sex is a good thing, but out of its context it is sinful and damaging. He was asking Jesus to take thing into his own hands and to not rely on God to provide and work his plan.

Jesus responds with God's word - "Man shall not live on bread alone". We don't survive because of food, we survive because God mercifully sustains us every minute of every day. We need to trust in him and rely on him for our needs, thanking him when he provides.

What an we learn?

  • Wait for the proper time to do things, don't take it into your own hands. Something may not be directly sinful, but in a certain context it could be sinful. e.g. drinking alcohol when you're with someone who is opposed to drinking alcohol or struggles with being an alcoholic)
  • Often our motives also come into play. For example praying out loud in church is definitely not wrong, but if you do it to get attention instead of doing it to pray to God then it's sinful.
  • Trust in God's plan and don't try to take it into your own hands. He knows best, trust him and obey.
  • Use God's word to battle temptation. God is true, he is good. Know him and know his word. That means we have to spend time getting to know God's word.
  • Rely on God. Everything we need to serve him is provided by him. Trust that he will provide and resist Satan.

Temptation 2
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’” 
Here Satan tempts Jesus again. He tempts him to again step outside of God's plan and take things into his own hands. He tempts him with pride, offering him authority and power. He tempts him with riches and luxury instead of God's plan which was that he would die to save all who put their faith in him. He also tempted him with Idolatry, to place another in God's place. Though it isn't always obvious, idolatry is always putting Satan before God. It's listening to his temptations and not submitting to God above all else. It is worshipping creation instead of God.

The thing is: God already owns everything. Sure, Satan has a limit of power, but he can only do what God allows (see Job 1). Satan was tempting God with what God already owned - creation. He was tempting Jesus to take back his glory that he had before becoming a man. Tempting him to "live his best life here" and not trust God. Wait a second - isn't that exactly what the prosperity gospel is? Live well here, God will give you everything you ever wanted. It is lies from Satan. Don't believe it. 

Jesus responds again with God's word: We are to only worship God.

What should we learn?
  • Satan's temptations can be multi-facetted. Be on your guard and be careful of resisting one thing just to fall into another part of that temptation.
  • If we trust God, it is worth more than what Satan offers. Satan offered Jesus the world, whereas he owns the universe. Satan offers us pleasure and riches here, but we (christians) are adopted as God's children and have eternal life with him.
  • Don't love the things of this world more than God. He needs to be first in our lives.
  • Satan lies. He offers the world, but it is not really in his power to give it. Even if he does give it, in the scheme of eternity what is it worth? Nothing.
  • Beware of the prosperity gospel! God never promises us health, wealth and prosperity here, he promises all of that in heaven if we obey him.
  • Humility is key in obeying God. Jesus is God, yet he submits to God the father, worshipping him only. Jesus has every right to rule to world. Yet he submits humbly to God. Pride is often (for me at least) the root of most sins. We think we know best, we think we deserve something specific, and so we take it, not being humble, not trusting God, not waiting for his timing.
  • Again: Know God's word and use it! It is the "sword of the spirit", it is our only weapon in God's armour (Ephesians 6)
We'll return and look at the rest of these verses tomorrow, but I hope those points were helpful.

God Bless,

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