Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Resisting Satan's temptations (Part 2)

You can see part 1 here.

Temptation 3

The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you carefully;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’
What is Jesus tempted with?

Here he is tempted to test God. Once again Satan asks him to prove that he is God's son, the messiah. Satan asks him to prove that the promises of the Old Testament are about him. This wasn't in itself a bad thing - to prove that he was God, but once again it would involve taking things to his own hands and not waiting for God's perfect timing.

Satan is tricky. He often will tempt us Christians by making something seem right from God's word. He'll make us think: "Lying isn't sinful, because the commandment just says that we shouldn't give false witness against our neighbour", causing us to ignore other bits of God's word like Colossians 3:9. He did it to the Pharisees in Mark 7:9-13.

How does Jesus respond? He counters simply with God's word and doesn't do it. 

What do we learn?

  • We need to rely on God's timing, not our own
  • We need to know our bibles well to both respond to Satan's temptations and know when he is tempting us by taking verses out of context.
  • We need to be alert and on guard - Satan is crafty, we are slow.
  • We shouldn't test God. We should just put our faith in him, trust that he is good and that he will keep his promises. 
  • Satan knows that he is tempting us with evil, he doesn't need us to explain God's word. When we are talking to people it is good to explain how verses fit together, even when they sound like they contradict. With Satan we need to just fight him with God's word, not our own. 
What was the Result?
"When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time."
Satan lets up for the time being, but he doesn't give up. He is stubborn and persistent, he is like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour, and he waits for the right time. He is crafty and we need to be on guard because he is good at what he does. He is the father of lies (John 8:44) and he's been lying since the beginning.

James 4:7 says: "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." God always keeps his word and if we resist Satan he will flee from us. He has no power aside from what God allows him to have, and he cannot tempt us beyond what we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). That means that we can resist him and that he Will flee from us when we do. 

He may not flee straight away. He may tempt us a lot, he may make it very hard for us, but he will flee - not because we are strong (we aren't), but because God promises it and God never breaks his promises. Nevertheless: Stay on guard - he is always looking for opportunity to attack us, God's people.

How do we resist him? We submit to God. We know and obey his word. We live entirely for him, not ourselves. Most of Satan's temptations here came down to not trusting God or his timing. Likewise with us, they are usually about not trusting that God's way is best. He tempts us to put ourselves in God's place.

I hope this study has been helpful to you - I enjoyed looking into it and thinking through it a little.

How are you resisting the devil in your life? Are you submitting to God?

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