The devil is real. He was present in the Garden of Eden with the power to reveal himself to mankind. He was also welcomed into God’s presence in the throne room of heaven. Read Job’s first and second chapters and note the devil’s ability to appear before God, and the freedom granted him to roam, “going to and fro on the earth” (Job 1:7, ESV). But also recognize the limitations God placed upon Satan’s powers. He is powerful, but God has ALL-power!
The devil came to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10), so it should be no surprise that our arch enemy appeared to Jesus. The Gospels report, “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. Then the tempter approached him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread’ ” (Matthew 4:1–3, CSB).
Two things strike me as amusing. First, Satan said, “If you are the Son of God!” Ha! The devil knew exactly who Jesus was. There was no doubt. And secondly, the text says that after forty days without any food, Jesus was “hungry.” That must have been an under-under-understatement! So, the devil tempted Jesus to satisfy his own physical desires.
When that didn’t work, Satan took Jesus to the “pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down’ ” (Matthew 4:5-6, CSB). This reminds me of the prosperity gospel being taught falsely in our culture. It says “name it and claim it.” It says, “If we have enough faith, God is obligated to do what He’s told.” He’s the genie in the bottle who must give us our three wishes. Satan tempted Jesus to ignore God’s will and purpose.
The third temptation came as Satan took Jesus to a high mountain, from which they could survey the landscape for miles around. “I will give you all these things if you will fall down and worship me” (Matthew 4:9, CSB). Satan suggested that there was an easier path, one that didn’t lead to the cross. All that Jesus needed to do was to bend a knee in worship to a lesser king. Satan tempted our Lord to misplace His affections. “Jesus told him, ‘Go away, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him’ ” (Matthew 4:10, CSB).
Jesus didn’t fall prey to the wiles of the slithering snake. Jesus refused to bow to anything or anyone other than His Holy Father.
So, here’s the punch line for me. I’m often tempted to trust in my abilities and in my own human resources. I allow worldly things, mere stuff, to become the priority and focus in my life. I’m tempted to allow the Savior and Lord to become secondary.
Jesus reminds us about the first commandment. “Do not have other gods besides me. Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. Do not bow in worship to them, and do not serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:3–5, CSB).
The truth is ... everyone worships something. What’s most important?
South Georgia Baptist Church
Mike Martin, Pastor