2-27-2021 Temptations of Christ (revisitied)
This day (2-22-21) Father brought the “Temptations of Christ” back to my mind. I was feeling a little “down” and I needed this jolt to pick my spirits back up. I also wondered if anyone else also needed a little ‘kick-in-the-keester’. Originally published June 20, 2020, here it is again with some minor adjustments.
After His baptism by John, in the Jordan, Jesus had a ‘little’ encounter with the Devil
Matt. 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-13
1 Returning from Jordan and being full of the Holy Ghost, Jesus was led, by the Spirit, into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
2 After fasting and having been tempted by the devil for forty days, Jesus became hungry.
3 And when the tempter came to Him, he said “If You are the Son of God, command these stones to be made bread.”
4 But, Jesus answered “It is written that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”
5 Then, the devil took Him up to the holy city and set Him upon a pinnacle of the temple.
6 He said to Him “If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down for it is written that He will give His angels charge concerning You and that their hands should bear you up unless You should dash your foot against a stone.”
7 Then, Jesus said “It is written that “You shall not tempt the Lord, your God.” (Matt. 4: 5-7 corresponds with Luke 4:9-12).
8 Again, the devil took Him to an exceedingly high mountain and in a moment of time showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory and said “I will give You all this power with their glory. It is given to me to give to whomsoever I will.”
9 And he said to Jesus “I will give you all these things if You will fall down and worship me.”
10 Then, Jesus responded “Get away, Satan, for it is written you shall worship the Lord your God and only Him shall you worship” (Matt. 4:8-10 correspond with Luke 4:5-7).
11 Then, when the devil had ended, he left Him and behold, angels came and ministered unto Him (Jesus).
Back on February 16, 2019, I talked briefly about how the angels in heaven are organized to fight Satan’s three-pronged attack against man. I mentioned that there are three spheres of angels, each with three choirs (or ‘subsets’). Each sphere has a realm of operation and each choir has responsibilities within its sphere. Origen (AD184) is the primary source who ordered the spheres and choirs of angels and though others may have adjusted it from time to time, Origen’s version is what is generally accepted.
Okay, the stage is set.
Look at the three temptations Jesus faced in the wilderness. Note that Luke says that Jesus was tempted for forty days. Matthew only references these temptations cited here. If you will, these last three temptations came as the ‘icing on the cake’.
These three temptations are important because they depict the three main areas in which Satan attacks us – the body, the soul and the spirit. All three of these areas are involved in spiritual warfare.
The first temptation, the bread:
At this stage of the game, Satan knows Father will give Jesus anything He asks so he knows that Jesus can easily command the stones of the ground to become edible bread to satisfy His hunger. This is the ‘natural’ man, or the body. Meeting the physical needs of our body, sustenance (where are my twinkies! Lol).
Jesus knows there is something more important than just taking in physical sustenance. He knows that our spirit also needs to be fed. We do that by reading the bible to gain understanding how Father operates in our lives and then through us. The bible helps us to qualify God’s Word and how His love operates in and around us. Yes, we live here on planet earth and because we are temporal (temporarily here)) we need food to survive but our spirits also need to be fed. When we don’t eat food on a regularly basis, our bodies will eventually waste away and we die. Likewise, if we don’t feed our spirits by reading the bible, prayer and true Christian fellowship, our spirits will also waste away – become dead to God. Just as God takes care of the animals of the land, birds of the air, fish in the sea and plants in the ground, He will take care of us and our needs. Yes? As we walk with God, He will give us what we need and even our heart’s, desire as we line up with His will (Luke 12:22-31). To do this, we have to have a relationship with Him. We have to communicate with Him on a regular basis (1 Thess. 5:17), that is don’t wait until our troubles overwhelm us to seek His guidance. After all, He is our friend. Do we only go our friends only when we need their help or do we also, ‘just enjoy’ their company?
We need to trust more in Father rather than what we see in a situation. So this first temptation addresses what we can hear, see, taste, etc., our physical needs, the body.
The second temptation, Jump off!?:
Satan knew that the angels were set in charge of protecting Jesus in everything He did. But, Jesus easily recognized Satan’s challenge to Father’s intent (Psalm 91:11-12). Are we flippant in receiving what Father has for us or do we take it seriously?
Paul was unaware of the poisonous snake in the sticks he had gathered on the isle of Miletus. The snake bit Paul. The people knew that this snake’s bite meant and it would quickly bring death. Paul shook it off into the fire had no ill effect (Acts 28:3-5). God’s protection!
Israel challenged God about bringing them into the wilderness to die of thirst at Massah. Father did provide but He was not pleased that Israel had doubted Him (Exod. 17:1-7). God had already brought them out of Egypt and parted the Red Sea, yet they were not trusting Him for a simple drink of water.
Father tells us not to tempt Him (Deut. 6:16-18). Jesus knows that we should always trust Father for what we need (Psalm 104:1-30) and so should we.
Paul didn’t see the snake saying to himself “Hmmm, I see the snake, but I’m going to grab this bunch of sticks anyway for God will protect me.” He was unaware of the snake, and in His innocence, Father did protect Him.
Knowing He would be killed when hitting the ground below, Jesus did not jump off the pinnacle either. In short, don’t put ourselves in obvious jeopardy, then expect Father to bail us out. But, when we unwittingly find ourselves in a situation, God will protect us.
I bought my first motorcycle from a dealership in Hyattsville, Md. It was a lightweight, dirt bike, a Triumph 250cc, with knobby tires which put out less than 30 Horsepower (hp). I had never ridden a bike at that time and the salesman asked me if I wanted to take a quick test spin. Being bold and brazen, I said “sure.” At the time, I owned a 383, 4 barrel, Hi-performance Plymouth Roadrunner putting out @335 hp. A no brainer, the bike had about a tenth the power of my car. A snap, right? I hopped on, fired it up and took off. In the blink of an eye, I was off the lot and into the street, narrowly missing a car coming up the road, which narrowly missed a telephone pole on the other side of the street. I had no clue how quick that little rascal was. I let off the gas, turned around and came back into the lot. My buddy (who came with me), the salesman and the staff were all ‘bustin’ a gut. I didn’t even really know God back then, but, as with Paul, Father was watching over me (and the lady in the car).
Jesus recognized the difference between being in a situation and trusting Father or tempting Him so He was obedient to Father. He told Satan to ‘buzz off’ (get behind Me). We may still get ourselves into stupid situations as we are learning to live in God’s will, but we don’t deliberately put ourselves there.
This second temptation addresses what I will call spiritual, the needs of our human spirit, the seat of our emotions and mental functions, our psyche aka our rationale (our soul?).
The third temptation, the heart:
This is also ‘spiritual’, but it is more of ‘where is our heart’? ‘Why’ do we do things rather than ‘just’ what have we decided to do. This is the area that connects us with our Father. This is the area where the Holy Ghost will take up resident within us and become our ‘driving force’ why do we do what we do. Which drummer do we listen to motivate us? Father showed me this by having me read “Pigs in the Parlor” by Frank and Ida Mae Hammond. ‘Pneuma’ is the Greek word translated ‘spirit’ or breath and which is mostly used in reference to the Holy Spirit (or Ghost) where ‘psyche’ is the Greek word translated ‘soul’. I’ve always believed that a demonic spirit and the Holy Ghost cannot occupy the same space at the same time ergo a Christian cannot be ‘possessed’. Pigs in the Parlor is written to Christians so the church could be clean. Father had to show me that though pneuma and psyche are in the same body, they are not the ‘same place’. As Christians, we yield ourselves over to Father. We give our ‘self-will’ over to being obedient to Father. That is, we bring our soul (psyche, our decision making) into agreement with the Holy Ghost (residing in pneuma) promoting God’s will within us. We give our heart over to the heart of God, uniting our will with Father’s will. Without Jesus, our human spirit (being easily influenced by Satan) motivates what we do. When we get ‘saved’, the Holy Ghost motivates what we do (do we listen?). Which empowers the pneuma and motivates our thinking in the psyche which will generate our actions in the body. We still have free-will but we should be agreeing with the Holy Ghost? Get the picture? When the enemy attacks, he attacks how we think and when the Holy Ghost is not present in ‘pneuma’ what’s to stop our enemy?
Satan takes Jesus up on a high mountain and shows Him all the kingdoms of the earth and how glorious (how powerful and magnificent) they are. Now, the ultimate challenge – where was the heart of Jesus? Remember, Jesus is Emmanuel (God is with us Matt. 1:23) but He was also here, in this world in a physical body (born of Mary (Matt. 1:24-25).
Satan makes Jesus an offer which would be tempting to most anybody. A typical situation – you do this for me, look at what I’ll do for you. So what is the offer? Satan says “I’ll give you all the kingdoms of the world AND their riches and glory. Basically, “I’ll give you anything and everything you ask and want.” WOW! No more worry about ‘hitting the lottery! Never having any needs or wants anymore. The first ‘trillionaire’! People at my beck and call! Who could resist?
The choice is ours and that choice brings results – good or bad. Jesus stood fast against the devil because His heart was always in the right place (with Father). Yes, He is the son of man, but He is also the Son of God. Emmanuel, Savior (our gateway into eternal heaven). But consider, Satan thought he could tempt the human side of Jesus because He was in the flesh, like us. But not ‘just’ like us but similar. Yes, He was born a ‘man’. His Father is was not human but the Creator of all things, Almighty God! Jesus resisted because He was filled with the Holy Ghost which Father gives us. We, too, can resist the enemy because the Holy Ghost abides in us! All we have to do is listen and obey God, then tell the devil “NO DEAL”!
So Jesus responded that we should worship the Lord God and worship only Him. That is, our heart should be devoted totally to Father and we should always walk in His ways. Jesus gave the devil a command “Get away, Satan!” Jesus knew what Satan was doing, trying to draw the Son’s attention, steal His loyalty away from the Father. Besides, Jesus is God (John 1:1). He created everything so everything was already His! The worlds were created through the Word of God (Gen. 1:1-31)! Likewise, as soon as we realize Satan has taken the offensive against us, we need to do the same “Get behind me, Satan, for Jesus is my Lord and Savior. He is my eternal salvation and I will serve only the Father through Him”.
Helping us to make the right moves (of course) is the Holy Spirit, God in us. We don’t fight alone because we have the Holy Spirit and a multitude of brothers and sisters willing to stand with us against the wiles of our enemy. Oh, and don’t forget, we also have angels fighting with us as well – spheres and choirs of angels. One sphere with three choirs helps us as we fight what we see in the natural, the things of this earth, our body. The second sphere deals with Satan’s armies in the heavenlies helping us with our psyche, our emotions, decisions and values. The third sphere which surrounds the throne of God helps us with establishing and maintaining our heart in a solid relationship with Father. So Father has angels helping in every aspect of our warfare as we remember we don’t fight against flesh and blood but against powers, principalities, rulers of darkness of this world and against spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph. 6:11-18).
We get an inkling to this warfare in Daniel where the angel is delayed, by the Prince of Persia, in bringing the answer to Daniel’s prayer (Dan. 10:10-14). God is with us! He gives us the Holy Spirit within and angels without. We are surrounded by God’s love! How can we lose (Acts 5:39, Rom. 8:31)? All we have to do is listen to the Lord and be obedient to His Word. And remember, Father will never put more on us than we are able to handle (1 Corinth. 10:13).
Though we battle in the natural, our true fight is in the spiritual. When our heart is aligned with our Father, our emotions and thinking processes line up with His will. When our ‘cognitive’ processes are lined up in God’s will, the body will follow suit.
Our body and our desires line up with where our heart is and our heart is in tune with God’s love. Body soul and spirit line up in unity and all is focused in God’s will. We are not serving two masters, therefore we are not divided. Jesus tells us that a house divided cannot stand (Matt. 6:24). So when the body, soul and spirit are lined up under the influence of the Holy Ghost (in the Father through Jesus) we become single. Who can stand against us?
The body is more than just bread. We need to know what our freedom and limitations in Christ really involves. In Christ Jesus, all things are lawful but not everything is expedient (1 Corinth. 10:23). We have to know the Word to understand our relationship with Father so we can make the right decisions. And when our hearts are knitted together with the living God, we know that we are motivated by our heavenly Father and there is nothing Satan can offer us. We know all power and authority abide in Christ Jesus (Matt. 28:18). We know who we are. We know who our enemy is but more, we know we are sustained by our Lord and through Him, we know the Father! And therein lies our victory!