On: December 17, 2014 | By: admin | Under: Blog | Comments: Comments are off
Discern, decide resist, stand firm
“The devil said to Jesus, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.’ Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone.”‘” [Luke 4:3-4]
Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” is one of my favourites. In essence it says that, if you can face victory and defeat with equanimity and carry on regardless, you will demonstrate you are a real man (or woman). The devil starts off questioning Jesus as to whether He is the real deal and puts to him a test to prove himself. This is similar to his tactics with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden: ‘Did God really say “You must not eat from any tree in the garden.”(Genesis 3:1). This was a misquote, as God had actually said that they could eat from any tree they chose, except one. The devil’s oily tactics downed Adam and Eve. They couldn’t (or chose not to) see through the deceit, and were lured by his subtlety into disaster.
The devil tries to exploit Jesus’ hunger and weakness by leading Him to use His power to satisfy His own needs. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this – it loosely mirrors God’s miraculous provision to the Israelites of manna in the desert. The problem was the challenger, not the challenge. It was the devil doing the suggesting and Jesus knew that no good thing could come from him. The clue was in the initial insinuation: “IF you are the Son of God”. It carried the implication that, if Jesus chose not to, He wasn’t able to do the miracle and therefore wasn’t the Son of God. Lies all round. But Jesus was able to face the devil down as He knew his history and had learned his scriptures: “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deut: 8:2,3) Jesus was in the desert to endure hunger and to resist temptation. To have used His powers to make life easier would have undermined His Father’s purposes.
Peter knew all about this: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.” [1 Peter 5:8,9]
Father God, times of testing are, well, testing! Give me alertness to know when a test stands before me; resolve to stand firm; discernment to decide the right course of action; and courage to implement it. That I might avoid error and walk in Your paths. For my safety and Your glory. Amen.