Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Temptation - Facing the Dark Side - Part 2

Tuesday – September 17, 2013

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished.  The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”  
But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”  
Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”  Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’”  Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

After spending these 40 days in prayer and fasting, Jesus is confronted by Lucifer himself.  It is appropriate to remember that the tempting came after two things:

a.         After Jesus made preparations to fulfill the ministry God had laid out for Him – ministry decisions about how he would serve.
b.         After he was physically and mentally exhausted.


Why wait for the time when Jesus was just getting started in ministry and after a season of spiritual preparation? 

Satan always attacks foundations.  

If you can corrupt the foundation of anything, it doesn’t matter what is built afterwards.  It’s Satan’s way – undermine the footing, destroy the building! 

When a church gets a new pastor they are in the foundation of a ministry together.  Satan would dearly love to undermine this relationship.  Then, for all the time they have together, the people second-guess the pastor’s motives, and the pastor also wonders about them.  Will that pastor and people accomplish much for the kingdom?  I think not; trust undermined is faith forsaken!
Satan’s undermining of foundations is the very reason why values have been such a big player politics in recent years.  It isn’t so much that politicians are interested in Christian values, per se – politicians are interested in getting elected; they can’t even agree on what values really are.  (I can tell them – but they wouldn’t want to look in the Bible.) Satan knows if the focus surrounding values can be shifted to a debate over what constitutes values, he has already won. 

Satan understands that once we settle on any definition other than what God has laid out in Scripture, he has won.  If the foundation is not God’s Word, it is bound to crumble. 

Satan’s temptations always attack the foundation of God’s Word:

a.         Physical hunger.  Satan knew there were plenty of hungry people in the world, so he offered, Hey, Jesus, turn these flat stones – the ones that look like bread – turn ‘em into bread.  You can feed all those people.  No one will ever have to listen to Sally Struthers pleading on TV to feed those poor, hungry children.  Jesus quoted the Scripture:  Not only bread – God’s word.  Strike ONE.

b.         Spiritual hunger.  Satan’s second swing involved an ancient prophecy from God’s own Word.  It seems as if he said, OK, you quoted Scripture, take this:  The angels are supposed to watch over you – here’s how you can kill two birds with one jump; take a leap off the peak of the temple – let God’s angels save you with a spectacular miracle.  Everyone will certainly know that you’re the Messiah, and you’ll prove God’s word is true.  Jesus pointed out the verse that really applies here:  Don’t tempt God with foolishness.  Strike TWO.

c.          Accomplishment hunger.  Look, Jesus, see all the kingdoms of the world.  I can give it ALL to you.  If you just worship me, I’ll set you up good.  It’s a short cut to what God wants for you anyway.  Let me save you all that cross business.  It’s so much easier this way.  Jesus rejected this also with a word from the Word – Worship YOU, Satan?  God alone is to be worshipped!  You better get out of here!  Strike THREE – and out.

Satan struck at Jesus’ foundations, and found he’d hit rock.  This is the lesson we can learn today from this battle of temptation…Let Satan swing against the Rock…he will find no way to cut down Jesus in your life!

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