The Temptations of the evil one, Part 3
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Matthew 4:8-9 Again, the devil took him up into an exceedingly high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And said unto him, All these things will I give you, if you will fall down and worship me.
We already covered the first two temptations in our previous blogs, now let’s look at the third temptation that the devil throws at Jesus: The devil is offering Jesus the kingdoms of the world.
A little bit of background here: The devil is called the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4). Why is that? Well, he is the god of this world, because of our sin. When Adam and Eve sinned, death has entered this world. The devil started having dominion over humankind. The devil has become the god of this age.
At the same time, God has already promised Jesus the kingdom. For example:
Psalms 110:1 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.
So that’s the background. The devil is ruling this world right now, to some extent. Those who are not renewed by the Holy Spirit are being controlled by the devil. But God the Father has already given Jesus a promise that one day the Father will give Jesus the kingdom.
However, Jesus perfectly knows that the Father’s path is not easy. Remember, Jesus is at the end of a 40 days fast. Jesus knew how difficult it can be to follow the Father in everything. And of course, Jesus also perfectly knew that the hardest part was still to come: The cross was still waiting for Him. Before He could ever receive the kingdom, He would have to die. Jesus perfectly knew that the Father’s promise was dependent on His obedience. If Jesus disobeyed, the Father could not have given Him back the kingdom.
That’s the background. That’s Jesus’ mindset. And that’s what the devil is attacking. Because what the devil is offering is a seeming shortcut: Basically, what the devil is saying is this:
“Jesus, I know what you really want. I know what you want is the kingdom. I know the Father has promised you the kingdom. But as you can experience right now, the Father’s way is really, really difficult. So you know what? Let’s make a deal. You give me a little something, and I give you a little something. You give me some worship, and I give you the kingdom. Right here, right now. No need to fast. No need to do the Father’s will any longer. No need to go to the cross. I’ll give you what you want right here, right now. So … Deal?”
Now we always have to remember: The devil is completely silent on the consequences of such a compromise. Would he have given Jesus the kingdom if Jesus had bowed down? Of course not! The result would have been that Jesus would have been a sinner. He couldn’t have died for us on the cross. He couldn’t have saved us. And the devil would certainly NOT have kept his word. (Remember, he is the father of lies, John 8:44) If Jesus had compromised, the result would have been devastating: The kingdom would have belonged to the devil once and for all.
So yes, the devil is offering Jesus a seeming shortcut. But he is completely silent on the consequences of the compromise that he offers.
Now let’s look at Jesus’ reply:
Matthew 4:10 Then said Jesus unto him, Begone, Satan: for it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.
And again, Jesus is completely disarming every aspect of the devil’s temptation with one single quote from the Old Testament, the Word of God. In other words, Jesus is saying:
Devil, you know, you’re trying to get my focus away from the Father. My purpose is NOT the kingdom of this world. My purpose is to worship God and be completely obedient to Him. I’m not going to worship the kingdom of this earth. And I’m certainly not going to worship you. I’m going to worship my Father. And by doing so, and staying obedient to Him, I will get the kingdom that you offer me as well. So… go away!”
And once Jesus defeated the devil a third time, the temptation was over. The devil left, angels came to minister to Jesus. And He won the battle!
Now how about us? How does this apply to us?
Well, the devil offers us all kinds of seeming shortcuts. But he is completely silent on the consequences if we give in to the shortcut. Most of the time when people give in to this kind of temptation, it goes around one of two topics: Either Money or Romance.
Let’s start with money: God promised to provide for all our needs. That’s a promise for every follower of Christ. However, the promise has a prerequisite for us: Faithful management. God is telling us: “I will provide for all your needs, IF you manage well what I have already given you!” So the temptation of the devil is: “You know, God promised to provide for you. But the process of getting there is difficult. You have to tithe. You have to budget. God tells you to not get into debt. All these rules. So here’s a shortcut I can offer you: Don’t tithe, get into debt, do all these things,… And then you can have the promise of God’s provision easier. So … go ahead, disobey God’s word, and you can have it easier.”
So that’s the shortcut that the devil is offering. But he is completely silent on the consequences. Because God’s promise of providing for us releases us of all fears and anxieties of having to provide for ourselves. God’s plan is that He provides for us, and we only have to manage well what He has already given us. We won’t have to worry about “how to pay our next meal”, “how to send our kids to school”, etc. All we have to do is simply manage well, tithe, give, save, budget well,… And of course work well. All these things. And if we do these, then God will provide. So we don’t have to be anxious about tomorrow. We can simply manage well today, and trust that God will provide for tomorrow.
Now if we don’t manage well, then God will say: “Have it your way. If you don’t trust that I will provide, if you think that you have to provide for yourself, then have it your way. I won’t provide for you then!” And suddenly we will feel all the fears, the anxieties and the uncertainties of this world. Because our whole economical system is extremely shaky and will never give us security, no matter how much money we have. The devil is completely silent on these consequences. All he will ever try to tell us is: “There’s a shortcut to financial blessings.” But it’s not a shortcut at all. It’s a way to insecurity.
Then let’s talk about romance: Many single people hear the lies of the enemy: “You’re getting old. You’ll never get married. You won’t have time left to have children. Yes, God promised you, but He’s too slow. You better take things into your own hands. Remember that non-Christian boy or girl that you met a while ago? That person would certainly make a good partner, right? So what you should do is: Disobey God’s teaching. I offer you a shortcut to romantic fulfillment.”
Again, that sounds like a nice shortcut. But in reality, the result is the opposite. Because such a relationship will always create a lot of conflicts. Different values, different priorities. Different ways of doing things. Different attitudes of “This is good, this is acceptable, but this is wrong and we won’t do this!”. Such a relationship between Christians and non-Christians usually turns sour pretty quickly. And most of the time, the Christian turns further and further away from God instead of the non-Christian turning towards God.
The devil is completely silent on these consequences. All he will ever try to tell us is this: “There’s a shortcut to romantic fulfillment. Disobey God and I’ll give it to you sooner. You don’t have to wait for God!” But the actual results are the opposite of what we are looking for.
Related to this topic: Sex! God promised us a fulfilled sexual life. (Read through Song of Solomon, or read some of the Proverbs, e.g. Prov. 5:19) But God’s way is also clear: Sex is reserved for a man and a woman in a lifelong commitment in marriage. And the devil will try to lie to us over and over again: “You can be sexually fulfilled in a different way. Get involved in pre-marital sex, commit adultery, have homosexual relationships and/or get involved in pornography,…” The devil is trying to tell us that there is a shortcut to sexual fulfillment.
What the devil is silent about: Any sexual activity outside of the context of marriage will lessen our ability to actually commit to one person for a lifetime. Every time we have sexual relationships with someone we are not married to, we will create insecurity for ourselves whether we (or the other person) will be able to commit to one another for life. Plus, sexual encounters outside of marriage will never give us the security of that lifelong commitment and will never fully satisfy (we talk more about this topic in our book).
So the lie of the devil is that he offers us a seeming shortcut. “You simply have to disobey one of God’s commandments, just a small one. And you can have what you are looking for right here, right now!” But he is completely silent on the consequences of our disobedience.
So what’s the solution?
Well, it’s simple: Obey! Do what God says. Read the Word and do what it says. Listen to His still small voice in your quiet time, and obey His whispers. And then let God fulfill you.
That’s the third temptation that the devil throws at all of us all the time: He offers us a seeming shortcut to fulfillment. But reality is that the shortcut does NOT bring us to where we want to be. Instead, the devil’s compromises will always leave us absolutely unfulfilled.
So these are the devil’s tactics. In our next blog, we'll have the audio file of the sermon ready. And afterwards we will then sum it all up, how we can practically defeat the devil.
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