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Midweek Devotionals

Published weekly on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays.

Midweek Devotional 4/14/2016

Robert Chen

Dear Church:

MATTHEW 4:1-11

1Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. 3The tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." 4But he answered, "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

5Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6saying to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, 'He will command his angels concerning you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'" 7Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"

8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; 9and he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." 10Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! for it is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'" 11Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

If this story weren't so familiar we would be utterly shocked that Jesus is having a conversation with Satan. You would think such a meeting of two opposing forces/personalities would turn into some mighty cosmic battle with fireworks and explosions straight out of a Hollywood special effects department. 


But instead of pyrotechnics, we get a dialogue. (The eventual cosmic battle to end all battles will take place at another time -- the Battle of Armageddon in the Book of Revelation will have to wait.)


Conversation/dialogue does not sound so weighty or dangerous, but in the context of a spiritual conflict, talking-and-responding can be a matter of life-and-death. 


Before Jesus sets out on his public ministry, he goes into a forty day prayer and fast, in part to solidify what kind of Messiah he will be. In the context of this question, the devil shows up. The devil is up to no good. (BTW, the devil is always up to no good.) The devil tempts Jesus to use his supernatural power for his own needs (first temptation); Jesus rejects this temptation. The devil then tempts Jesus to use his status to create a large following by showing how even angels will save him from danger (second temptation); this, Jesus, rejects as well. Lastly, the devil tempts Jesus to compromise, offering Jesus the kingdoms under his (the devil's) dominion if only Jesus would worship him (the devil). (Not only is the devil up to no good, but he is also full of himself in a delusional way since only God is sovereign over all kingdoms.) This third and last temptation Jesus easily rejects. The only Messiahship that Jesus will accept is the one that is completely dependent upon God the Father, in the power of the Spirit. Jesus came as a servant and it will be servanthood that will mark his Messiahship. 


Although Jesus was/is the Son of God, he overcame the devil with weaponry that every single one of us has at our disposal -- the word of God, "the sword of the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:17). Every one of the temptations was defeated with Scriptural truth. In the case of the temptations above, Jesus used truths from Deuteronomy.


The devil's main weapon against God's people is what his name means -- "accuser" or "slanderer." Both the Hebrew, "Satan," and the Greek, "Devil," translates into "Accuser" or "Slanderer." Satan does have other powers and skills. But his most potent power is the power of lies, half-truths, gossip, slander, divisive speech, and accusations. Because we have a hard time discerning the devil's schemes when we hear lies, half-truths, gossip, slander, divisive speech, and accusations, we essentially become pawns that the devil can move around in his attempt to thwart the work of God in our lives. As long as the devil is indiscernible, we assume all that we think and say come from within ourselves, without any notion that sometimes the things we think and say are inspired by the accuser. An invisible enemy is a very dangerous enemy. 


But as we grow in the Lord -- growing in the word of God, in intimacy and holiness, and in the things of the Spirit -- we can discern the devil and his schemes. It'll actually be nearly impossible not to discern the devil when we become more much acquainted with the holiness and love of God. The stink of Satan will waft into our nostrils automatically when we get more accustomed to living in the atmosphere of Christ. And with the sword of the Spirit ready by our sides, we can defeat the devil and resist his temptations as Jesus did!


Let's pray: Lord Jesus, equip us for the spiritual battles in our lives with respect to the devil's schemes of accusation and lies. Increase our discernment by increasing our level of intimacy and our sense for your holiness. Help us to feed ourselves on your word. Help us to get much more familiar with your presence and the ways of God. Give us such a clear living knowledge of the things of the Spirit that the work of the enemy is easily identified, for our own sake and for the sake of others. In your name, amen.