After 7 months in the Old Testament, my D-Group just moved into the New Testament using NT260.
I read this week, once again, about Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness right after His baptism and His pubic ministry began. I began to try to put the temptations the devil used with Jesus into current application for my life. The enemy continually seeks to pull our focus from what God has called and commanded us to be and do for Him. Perhaps you can relate to one or more of these that I identify with.
You can find this series of temptations in Luke 4:1-13 (also found in Matthew 4:1-11, in a different order). Jesus is without food for 40 days in the wilderness. Then the first temptation occurs and appeals to fleshly desires as the devil tempts Jesus to turn the stones to bread. He was led by God to fast and wouldn’t break the fast before the appointed time.
The second temptation speaks to the need for power and authority as the devil offers Jesus the kingdoms of the world…as if they don’t already belong to Christ! He only has to simply worship the devil. Jesus would NOT worship the created more than the Creator.
The third and last temptation in this series concerns performing miracles. Actually all 3 of these temptations relate to Israel’s test in the 40 years of wilderness they experienced, but that’s for another blog!
Let’s relate these issues to us. First, think about what hungers or physical needs that you seek to fulfill in ways that do not honor God. Jesus was, no doubt, hungry and the devil knew his point of weakness, just like he knows ours. What about these: spending beyond your income, again and again; eating to excess, or eating only unhealthy food because you are depressed or bored; drinking alcohol to excess to escape disappointment; reading about illicit sexual fulfillment because you are not in a healthy, godly relationship; work-aholism to feel accomplished in SOMETHING!
Appropriate reading, working, eating, spending and sex are not wrong when done in a way that honors God. Satan was tempting Jesus in a vulnerable way since He’d not eaten for so long. But Jesus responded that there were things even more important than food…honoring God and His Word.
Secondly, power and authority are sought in today’s culture. Often dishonorable strategies are used to climb a ladder of leadership or exert control over people. Authority given to us by God will be used to further His Kingdom without stepping all over people to achieve it. We will use God-given power to build up not tear down. And we will only use what comes from Him. No one else has all authority on earth even when God uses people to provide it to others. Have you ever misused your power
Last, the devil wants Jesus to throw Himself down from a high point and then call on God to perform a miracle of protection. Even the enemy of Truth can quote scripture as seen in Luke 4:10. Jesus would be obedient, even when it led to death on the cross, and not being rescued. He knew God was completely faithful, even without miracles to stop pain and loss.
Have you ever foolishly put yourself in harms way and ask God to protect? I enjoy a little risk now and then…like huge roller coasters or giant swings. But needlessly putting ourselves where we know we are in danger and testing God to save us is wrong. Often we will be led by the Holy Spirit to places of danger, and we will need His protection, if He chooses to provide it. But, we never should “dare” God to act just for the sake of showing us a miracle. Many of Jesus’ followers saw His miracles and yet didn’t believe Him for salvation.
Jesus was led by and filled with the Holy Spirit to repel the enemy and his temptations. We, as Christ-followers, are as well. As we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit following obediently where God’s leads, then we will be able to recognize and withstand any temptation the devil throws at us.
If you are in a wilderness right now, lacking sustenance, perhaps feeling alone and abandoned, buffeted by the lies of the devil, do what Jesus did…quote scripture to the enemy as his darts fly toward you and watch him run.