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Finally, we reach…

October 17, 2007

the third temptation of Jesus. Since each temptation has built upon itself, I think it’s helpful to review.

The actual first point is the end of Matthew, chapter 3, in Jesus’ baptism where God appoints Him as Priest and Mediator, owning Jesus before the world as His Son whom He loves and with whom He is well pleased. The devil launches his attack from that front.

In the first temptation he wants Jesus to doubt the Father’s love for Him by allowing Him to be hungry. Come on, just change a few stones to bread–if, that is, You are the Son of God. Jesus refutes him by declaring that He lives by the words of God’s mouth. In John 4:34, Jesus states this truth even more clearly when He says, “My food…is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work.”

In the second temptation, the devil takes Jesus’ point of trusting the Father’s care and will for His life by tempting Him, with a misuse of Scripture, to prove His Father’s love by a presumptuous test of throwing Himself down from the temple to see a spectacular miracle of saving. Jesus answers back that He will not presume upon His Father’s will but will yield to Him by not testing God’s ordained plan for His life.

So here we are at the third temptation where the devil takes all that has been said and allows the temptation to culminate in what was his original lie the first time–take any way but God’s way and so avoid the cross. In fact, an equation that sums up the temptations could be stated this way:

Panic + presumption = compromise

In the first, the devil egged panic for Jesus’ weakened physical state. In the second, the devil taunted Jesus to presume He knew God’s will. And in the third, the devil offers a way out that avoids the cross, avoids the suffering. The devil offers the way of subtle compromise.

Here’s the text:

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’

This is really the way it happens. When the devil attacks believers, he points out all of their deficiencies, whether it is their character (past and present sins) or their lack of material things (those we both think we need and real needs) and eggs us to panic about where is God in all of this trouble? If God loved me then He would….. and we fill in the blank with the easiest way out. If I were a real child of God then maybe this wouldn’t happen to me, etc. The panic button tunes higher and higher as thoughts of what we want and think we need increase and thoughts of God’s trustworthy character decrease.

From the point of panic, it’s a short step to presumption, to tell God we’re giving Him one more chance to change our circumstances before we take things into our own hands. We ask for the laid out solution of convenient ease. We ask for the fix it list to be completed, in our timing, thank you very much.

At this point, all we’ve really done is climb the playground ladder to the slide that lands us in the mulch chips of compromise. And there’s a bunch of clever Christianese out there to rubber stamp our decisions. Blithe comments like, “Well, I’ve thought about it, and of course, prayed about it.” Notice what came second? Or, “Well, I just haven’t felt led to…I haven’t had a peace…I haven’t heard from God” and so on.

Do I mean that these statements always indicate a compromising heart? No, I can’t know each believers’ heart, only God can and does. But I will honestly say that when the end result that follows such statements is that which exalts the one who stated it rather than exalts the Lord, when the fruit that is borne denies the power of Christ and denigrates the glory of the cross, then there is reason to question the statement.

Jesus says it best: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.” Worship–that means yield your life and will to Him, adore Who He is, cling to His ways, call out to Him in humility. Serve Him only–that means do obediently all that He has called you to do, in suffering, in affliction, in less than ideal circumstances, in joy, in cost and commitment that has set eyes on the eternal prize.

The third temptation is to compromise truth. The final answer is to declare and live truth.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Clemntine permalink
    October 17, 2007 7:08 pm

    Oh, Elle. This series has been a challenge and a blessing. Thank you very, very much. As I’ve been reading, I’ve been taking notes (and printing your posts!) for an in-depth look at this subject with my older girls.

    You’ve done this with excellence to the glory of God, as always.

  2. October 18, 2007 11:10 am

    panic + presumption = compromise
    What a great summation of what happens when I run ahead of God trying to fix everything myself in my timing…

  3. October 18, 2007 9:57 pm

    Oh wow. I have also enjoyed this series, and this sentence “From the point of panic, it’s a short step to presumption, to tell God we’re giving Him one more chance to change our circumstances before we take things into our own hands.” Wow. That is resounding so heavily in my heart right now.

    Thanks for sharing such great truth.

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