Yesterday we looked at 4 schemes and devices that our enemy uses to tempt us to doubt. They were the things Satan interwoved into Christ's first temptation. They are the things he regularly attempts to weave in ours.
1) He seeks to make us doubt God's goodness and care for us.
2) He seeks to have us doubt God's Word.
3) He seeks to have us doubt our adoption in Christ.
4) He seeks to have us do things in our own strength.
Satan tried, tested, and tempted our LORD. Christ overcame. Matthew Henry points out how He did it. He did it with the Word! It's remarkable to me that the omnipotent Christ - God incarnate - didn't use any divine power to defeat the devil. No, He used the Word. That's the same weapon we need to use. It's the only offensive weapon in the enitre armor of God, and Christ in Matthew 4 is giving us a sword lesson.
I will rely heavily on Matthew Henry's notes this morning. They were rich and succinct and they encouraged my soul.
First of all, “Christ refused to comply." Satan attempts to sow the seeds of doubt and strives to seduce our LORD to make His own way rather than seeking the Father's way. Jesus would not command these stones to be made bread, not because He could not but because He would not. And why would he not? Hear Mr. Henry's assessment:
“At first view, the thing appears justifiable enough, and the truth is, the more plausible a temptation is, and the greater appearance there is of good in it, the more dangerous it is. Christ would not do anything that:
1. Looked like questioning the truth of the voice He heard from heaven.
2. Looked like distrusting His Father’s care for Him.
3. Looked like setting himself up His own carver.
4. Looked like gratifying Satan, by doing a thing at his motion.”
OUCH!! He avoided even the appearance of evil. (I'm going to excuse myself for a moment and crawl into some sackloth and ashes!) Friends, does that not pierce you? It does me.
LORD God, You must help me in this area. My flesh, heart and mind continually fail me. Not only do I have the appearance, but far too often I have the actions of questioning, distrusting, carving, and gratifying. Forgive me! Set my face as flint that I will not even appear to question Your voice of truth. Set my face as flint that I will not even appear to distrust Your kind Fatherly disposal towards me. Set my face as flint that I will not seek to take the reigns from You and be my own course designer. Set my face as flint that I will not grant one iota of satisfaction to my enemy. Lord – gird me up. Uphold me by Your righteous right hand in these areas. Build me upon the Rock that these stormy winds will not tear down the edifice which You have begun to build. Grant me the grace that alone is able to make me stand firm unto the end.
Secondly, Mr. Henry points out that “Christ would not comply with it but He was ready to reply to it. He answered and said 'It is written'. He put honor upon the Scripture, and He set us an example, He appealed to what was written in the law. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit, the only offensive weapon in all the Christian armoury.” May I ask, how's your sword? Is it sharp from proper use or is it dull from no use? Do you even know where it is? Find it! Take it up! Wield it well! Hide it in your heart that it will be ever ready for use.
Remember what this precious Word declares about itself:
- “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Thy word.” (Ps 119:9)
- “Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee.” (Ps 119:11)
- “Jesus said to him, 'It is written…. Then the devil left Him, and behold angels came and began to minister to Him.'” (Mt 4:10)
“As in our greatest abundance we must not think to live without God, so in our greatest straits we must learn to live upon God. It is better to live poorly upon the fruits of God’s goodness, than to live plentifully upon the products of our own sin.”
Father – help me to stand upon Your Word. Make me to flee to Your revelation and not to my own reason. My thoughts are muddled by the noetic effect of sin. My feelings are false. My heart is desperately wicked. My righteousness is as filthy rags. My God You are altogether lovely. You are thrice holy. You are infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in Your being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. You do not lie and Your Word is truth. Help me to stand on its promises and live by its precepts. Eternal God – do not only help me to stand but lift me up and cause me to stand. Tune my ears to hear Your voice in Your Word. Shut my ears to the lies of the enemy. Your sheep know Your voice. Your children love Your word. It is written. I will listen.
Praying for grace to pass the first test,