12 June 2008

Fighting Temptation

Matthew 4:1-11 (NIV)

1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." 4Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'[a]" 5Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6"If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: " 'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'[b]" 7 Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'[c]" 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9"All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me." 10Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'[d]" 11Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Key points - what is God communicating through this portion of His Word?
In spiritual battle, using the Word of God as a sword (offensive weapon) is a sure and effective way to fight off Satan. Even though we have the Bible in physical form, memorizing it will arm us for battle even when we aren't carrying the Bible around. Jesus' replies to Satan are an example of this.

What God is specifically showing me in this passage:
Jesus rebukes the devil by quoting the Words of God. In verse 6, Satan quotes the Bible as well! Satan is quoting from Psalm 91:11-12; however, he leaves out the next verse. Psalm 91:13: "You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent." Of course he'd leave that out! Satan is trying to use the Word against Jesus, but he's taken it completely out of context. Thinking of the Word of God as a sword (as described in Ephesians 6:17), taking it out of context is a dangerous thing -- it's like grabbing the sword from the wrong end when we manipulate and interpret the Bible so that it says what we want it to say. And when you don't grab the sword at the handle, you're going to cut your hand.

Verse 11 stood out to me as well. When Satan left Jesus, the angels came and tended to him. "Tend" means:
to look after; watch over and care for. Why would they do that? Satan tempted Jesus and Jesus shot back some pretty good answers and defeated him. Why would Jesus need to be tended to? (Okay, so I realize he's been forty days in the desert without food, but run with my thinking here...) Reading this passage, I started thinking about temptation and spiritual battles. Battle. Battle! It's not easy. Satan is walking around like a lion looking for one of us to devour (1 Peter 5:8). When he tries attacking and we fight back, it's exhausting. Battles are hard and straining on our bodies and our souls. When we emerge over Satan because of our victory in Christ, we might not feel the greatest. We might need to be attended to.

One of the ways we can use the Word as a weapon against specific areas of temptations in our lives is to memorize Scripture. Identity some passages that would be useful to remember when you are tempted to sin or believe Satan's lies.

A few of my favorite

1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Galatians 6:2 - Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Matthew 10:31 - So don't be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows.

2 Corinthians 3:18
- And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

1 Peter 2:24
- He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

1 John 4:10
- This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Psalm 28:7
- The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.

Romans 8:1
- Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

2 Thessalonians 2:13
- But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.

Zephaniah 3:17
- The LORD your God is with you, he is might to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.


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