The Temptation to Rely on Myself Instead of God
For the next three Sundays, we will look at the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness of Judea near Jerusalem. We will see how He used Old Testament scriptures to counteract the arrows of the enemy. We will understand how He relied on the strength provided through standing in truth. We will see His human side as He experienced severe hunger after a time of fasting for the forty exhausting days that were squeezed between those forty long, dark nights. I’m certain those stones had begun to look exactly like loaves of bread…
Sometimes, I like to call Satan by the name “d’evil.” That’s exactly what he is…d’evil one. One promised day, when he is finally a permanent resident in the lake of fire, we will be able to say his name backwards: One day, that ole d’evil “LIVED” on earth but now he does not and will not ever again. Until then, we’ve got to be ready to deal with him and his temptations on a daily, moment-by-moment basis. This is WAR. It is a fierce spiritual battle. With the example of Jesus as our guide and fore-runner, we will be victorious. However, if we neglect to tap into His strength, we will fail every time.
Jesus had just come up out of the waters of the Jordan River after being baptized by John the Baptizer. The Voice of the Lord had authenticated the moment. The Holy Spirit Himself sealed the experience. While His famous one-piece tunic was still damp and dripping from immersion in those waters, Jesus was “sent” directly by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted “of the devil.”
The word “sent” in that verse means “to be led up or led forward, to be presented as an offering, to be urged, forced or compelled.” The Holy Spirit was the “compeller” and the constant companion of the Savior. He (the Holy Spirit) knew that it was time for the tempter to test Jesus. This would allow The Son of the Father to prove Himself to be the One in control, the One wholly committed to His Father and to the Commission of the Mission of salvation. Jesus would be the passer of the ultimate “demon—stration” of temptation.
The phrase “of the devil” means exactly that. The test would be administered by or through means of the devil. Never fear or be concerned, your Savior passed EVERY test. He never missed a question…not even in a face-to-face conversation in a private, up close, and personal encounter with d’evil one. Whatever we face in our life, Jesus has already been there as the pioneering trail blazer of our faith.
How many songs have assured us that He made a way in the wilderness. He is the way.
Do not miss this: Jesus did not rely on His own human strength. He was accompanied by God the Holy Spirit and attended by angels and directed by God the Father. How in the world can we expect to even enroll for the tests of life on our own power? Why would we even attempt it? Be assured that Jesus has made a way for us to conquer these temptations we face by giving us the Holy Spirit to walk with us through the wilderness.
Our scripture references for these three weeks will come from Matthew and Deuteronomy. The story of the temptation in the wilderness is recorded in Matthew. The scriptures Jesus quotes back to Satan are all taken from Deuteronomy. Please bear in mind that Satan uses the actual Word of God to tempt Jesus. D’evil knows scripture. Beginning with his first conversation with Eve, he distorted the Word of God to fit his agenda.
The Book of Deuteronomy contains what I like to call the famous last words of Moses. Of course, the Holy Spirit directed the writings of Moses and all of scripture. As the people came out of the wilderness and headed into the land of promise, Joshua was called upon to take leadership. It is the task of every generation to recall to remembrance the Word and the commandments of God. Moses was helping Joshua by repeating the Law a second time.
I remember in my year of turning forty that this passage was significant for me. In Deuteronomy 8:2, I found comfort reading “…and you shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.”
We need to remember and with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can! That is one of His main jobs: to help us recall to mind how God sent Jesus and Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be our Helper. We do not face “d’evil one” alone.