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Thursday, January 10, 2019

1-5-2019    The Temptations of Jesus and today
Sorry we're so late getting this out.  Severe sinus issues, but PTL, God prevails!

On Nov. 24, 2018 we posted “Who is fighting Whom?” and on December 22, 2018 we posted “The Flower, the Soldier and the Church”.  These two entries moved into our spiritual warfare with the enemy.  They introduced a three-pronged fight we must fight and be involved with in order to find victory over Satan and his dark forces.  Move over Luke Skywalker.  In Star Wars, the “dark forces” were what motivated the “dark side”.  The “forces of dark’ are representatives of our enemy which we face in our Christian walk.  

Here, we’re digging a bit for a better understanding of this three-pronged battle.  The previous entries suggested that our first fight is in ‘natural’ man”, the area we are most familiar with and our weakest point.  The second battle is for our mind, our thought processes, our soul, what motivates us.  But because we have the guidance of the Holy Ghost, we have something stronger with which to fight back.  The Third is for our heart, our true relationship with the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  When we are abiding in the Lord (the Word, living & written), we have all the power of heaven fighting with us.  Not that they weren’t with us before, but now we have a deeper understanding of what those resources are and how to tap into them (at least we should). 

Should Satan gain victory over the natural man, the battle is lost.  We become like the seed by the wayside (in the parable of the sower), which the birds immediately ate up (Matt. 13: 1-8).

In the ‘Temptations of Christ’ we see each of the three areas (natural, spirit and heart) addressed.  This is the first of seven installments showing how these three areas are addressed throughout the bible in both the Old and New Testaments.  And, hopefully to impress upon us our need to be able to properly deal with each area.

Matthew 4:1-11
1          Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
2          And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry.
3          Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread."
4          But Jesus answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.' "

As the passage says, Jesus had been fasting for forty days, He had to be very hungry.  The natural man needs food and water to sustain existence.  We eventually die without them.  According to the Scientific American, documented cased of people surviving ‘starvation’ diets of between 21-40 days.  Also Scientific American cites that, in comfortable conditions, a person could survive 21 days without water.  When conditions are not ideal, it could be hours instead of days (to put things in perspective between a controlled environment vs not so inviting condidtions).

So Jesus, in the wilderness, was at His weakest, physical point when the enemy approached Him. And with what did he approach Him?  Bread.  Turn these stones into something He could eat.  Sustenance for the natural man. 

This also tested Jesus’ trust in the Father to sustain Him and just how deeply did He trust the Father to provide for Him.  If we can’t trust God to provide us with ‘natural’ things, how can we trust Him for the Spiritual?  Jesus told the masses “If I’ve told you earthly things and you haven’t believed, how can you believe heavenly things?” (John 3:12).  We learn to trust God in this life so we can know to trust Him for the eternal.  Think about it.  We will have to trust Jesus in the rapture.  We’ll be caught up in the air with Him (1 Thess. 4:17).  Who will be keeping us from falling back down to earth?
So Jesus tells Satan that He trusts only the Father for things in the natural world by knowing what God has said, the Word.  Jesus should know the Word for He is the living Word.

5          Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple,
6          and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.' "
7          Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.' "

The pinnacle, the highest point of the temple in Jerusalem Jesus is challenged again.  Satan knows that God protects His own (Job 1:8-10).  As with Adam and Eve in the garden (Gen. 3:1-6), Satan quotes a partial biblical truth.  God will send His angels so You don’t hurt yourself, but Jesus knowing the full scriptures fires back with “You shall not tempt the Lord, your God.”  Yes, God is over Satan.  If we jump off the Empire State building, we’re going to go “SPLAT!” when we hit the streets below.  Don’t do something harmful or stupid just to prove God is with you.  However, should the Lord tell you to do something, be sure it’s Him, then be obedient.  A country boy, from outside Pittsburgh, Pa., Dave Wilkerson went to witness to the gangs of New York City in the strength of Jesus Christ (The Cross and the Switchblade).

In Rev. chapter one, Alpha and Omega states in part “… the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches …” and in Genesis chapter one God says “… let there be lights in the firmament …”.  Lights here is the Hebrew word maowr (3974), luminous body, bright, light, etc.  Revelation chapter twelve says that with his tail, the dragon drew the third part of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth …  Three passages which seem to correlate angels with stars, which were created on the fourth day (Gen. 1:14-15).  Draw your own conclusion.

Nonetheless, Satan is a created being.  The angels and we are also created beings (Gen 1:27).  So Jesus is telling a created being that we should not tempt the Lord God – that is asking Him to do something not logical just to prove Himself.  Even as Israel tempted God in the desert with food (Exod. 16:1-18) and water (Exod. 17:1-7).  We should not tempt the Lord.

Our spiritual man must become our Spiritual man for us to press forward in our walk with the Lord.  Just where is our trust in the Lord?  For what do we really trust and believe God?  Are we obedient to His Word?

8          Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.
9          And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me."
10        Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.' "

As our trust grows sin the Lord, we discover Father desires our companionship.  Just as He came down into the Garden of Eden to be with Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:8), just as He visited with Moses in the tabernacle (Exod. 20:19-22), He desires to walk with us.  At the celebration of the Passover, John lay his head upon the chest of Jesus (John 13:23-25).  Jesus wants this close a relationship with each and all of us who love Him.

So, when Satan took Jesus to the high mountain and showed Him all the lands and Kingdoms of the earth and said “… bow down and worship me and all this is yours.”  First of all, Jesus’ heart is always right with the Father because He and the Father are one (John 1:1-4).  Secondly, all things were created by Him (Jesus) and for Him (Col. 1:16).  So how could Satan give Him what was already His. 

Initially Adam and Eve had dominion over the earth (Gen. 1:27-30) but when Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden because of their disobedience (do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil Gen 2:17), evil fell upon the earth en masse.  Satan was cast out of heaven, with all his angels to give us a fit (Rev. 12:1-10) (Don’t split hairs over the order of events here).
So when Jesus told Satan that we should worship the Lord our God and serve only Him, He was asserting that is heart was with the Father forever.  We should do the same.

Satan attacks us in the natural man.  This is the realm we most readily understand and it is our weakest point.  Once we have accepted Jesus into our hearts, Satan has to change his tactics and deal with our spiritual man, our mind, our intellect, our soul.  We are learning how to stand in the strength of our Savior through reading His Word and prayer.  So, now both our body and soul are being attacked.  So now we stand against not just natural things but we begin to realize that we fight spiritual forces in high places.

But as we continue yielding ourselves to the Father, living in His will, being a true reflection of His love, Satan has to step it up a bit more.  Okay, a lot more.  Now, if he is to succeed, he has to tear our hearts away from the Lord.  He now turns the heat up.  Don’t be surprised when subtle temptations come which seem almost impossible to resist.  Satan knows that a full frontal attack would just send us running into the loving arms of God.  We keep our hearts right with our Father.  We already know what we have and are solid on (in) the Rock (Psalm 62:1-8), Jesus!  We know our victory is sin Jesus.

Complete victory comes when we take on the yoke of Jesus, having strengthened ourselves by knowing His Word and resting in the peace from God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Ghost.  However, ‘resting’ here doesn’t mean sitting back and taking it easy.  It does mean trusting in the Lord to bring us through whatever Satan throws at us and knowing that the Lord will bring victory! 
We deal with three battle fronts: the natural man, the spiritual man and the heart of man.  Prayer and putting God’s Word into action conquers our foe.


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