Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Luke #42 – Deceiving Temptations

Luke #42 – Deceiving Temptations

“And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days He did eat nothing: and when they were ended, He afterward hungered. And the devil said unto Him, ‘If Thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.’ And Jesus answered him, saying, ‘It is written, that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ And the devil, taking Him up into an high mountain, shewed unto Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto Him, ‘All this power will I give Thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If Thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be Thine.’ And Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘Get thee behind Me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.’ And he brought Him to Jerusalem, and set Him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto Him, ‘If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down from hence: for it is written, He shall give His angels charge over Thee, to keep Thee: and in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone.’ And Jesus answering said unto him, ‘It is said, thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.’ And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from Him for a season” (Luke 4:1-13 – King James Version).

You’re going to laugh, but this illustration is the one I felt led to share. I want a new truck. I do not need a new truck, but I want one. I have never had a new truck and I want a Ford F-250, 4WD, crew cab pickup. Knowing how much I like trucks, a friend of mine, John Austin, sent me a calendar from the Ford dealership that had the picture of a different 2004 Ford truck for each month. It was a thoughtful gift, but it had a strange effect on me. I had to throw it away! If I’d kept it I would have sat around drooling over those trucks for the next year! The next time I saw John I told him that he could have given me a calendar full of naked women that would not have had as bad effect on me as did those trucks. I realized how subtle sin is. Now, let me be clear, I am in no way advocating calendars of naked women. What I am saying is that it is not always the things that are obvious that tempt us and cause us to sin.

Let’s look at that in light of Jesus wilderness temptation. There are recorded three temptations Jesus experienced after the period of forty days fasting that illustrate that. Of course, Jesus was tempted the entire forty days, but we only have these three temptations to look at specifically.

The first way that Satan will use subtlety is that he will tempt us with what we need. In verse three, knowing Jesus was hungry, Satan tells Jesus to turn rocks into bread. Of course, Jesus indicates that bread is not our greatest need with the statement “Man shall not live by bread alone.” Food is a need; one of the basic necessities of life. I think a lot of folks get bent out of shape at noon on Sundays when the preacher is still preaching and they are hungry. Is that a temptation? Does taking focus off of God because the belly is rumbling constitute sin? I think Jesus’ answer is clear, even the most important bodily needs should not take precedent over God. Matthew 6:33 tells us that if we keep our focus on God, He’ll take care of our needs. How about this…are we ever tempted with other needs? Sure, I think so; we need shelter, but how many times do we buy houses that are too big for us and struggle under the weight of the payments? That’s bad stewardship! Clothing is a need, but we exercise bad stewardship and vanity in that many times. We often buy clothes that are far too expensive so we can “look good” or “fit in” with the crowd. The object is to be clothed, not exalt our status. I could go on and on, but the point is clear; Satan WILL tempt us with things we need. Be watchful!

The next thing we find is that Satan will tempt us with what we will get. In verse five Satan tempts Jesus by offering Him the world as a kingdom. Lest we forget, Jesus is God! He made the world! It’s already His and on the cross He bought it back again; He redeemed it. Satan tempted Jesus to shortcut that process; avoid the cross. The devil tempts us with the same kind of things. Most notable in my mind is the temptation to have sex outside of marital bonds. Sex is a beautiful gift from God and if we wait until we are married, it is even more beautiful AND it honors God AND it keeps us from disobeying Him. I also think of gambling; we’d get money if we’d only work, but the devil tempts us with shortcuts; the easy way out. There are no easy ways out when it comes to honoring God. Even in the garden of Gethsemane Jesus proved that to us; His prayer was “Not My will, but Thine be done.” We are to put God first, but Satan’s subtle way is to try and make us impatient and resentful; to take shortcuts. Be watchful!

Lastly, Satan will tempt us with what is already ours. In verses 10-11 Satan tells Jesus to jump from the top of the temple to prove that God would care for Him. Jesus response was to tell the devil that we are not to tempt God; we are not to try to make God prove Himself. For us, He’s already done that by giving Christ on the cross. Too many times we come to God with “if you…” prayers. What I mean is that we pray saying “If you…” do such and such then I will do such and such. God’s love was extended to us while we were still in our sins. His love and provision are ours already; we do not need to try to get Him to prove it over and over by demanding that things from Him. Be watchful!

Watch out for Satan. His temptations are often very deceiving. We need to be very alert. We need to constantly analyze what is going on by the Word and in prayer; falling before God begging for His guidance. Also, we need to be honest with ourselves and not try to justify even our most subtle of sins. Remember, God hates ALL sin; it is an affront to Him. Whether subtle or obvious, be on guard for temptation. Be watchful!

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