Faith is Tested by Temptation, Sermon 03/10/2019

“Ps. 91:1-2, 9-16; Lk. 4:1-13

Today is the first Sunday in Lent. The Lenten season may not be the longest season in the church year, but it is one of the most important seasons, if not the most important season. It is a time for spiritual preparation through repentance and growth in faith for Easter. It is the time of the church year when the passion and death of the Savior come into focus. It begins with a special day of repentance, Ash Wednesday and ends in the depth of sorrow and tragedy on Good Friday.

Lent is a pilgrimage with Jesus to suffering and death. This involves discipline and self-denial. If we expect to rise with Christ in newness of life on Easter, we must first die with him. Lent is a time of learning to die to self. Before we can rejoice, we must mourn. Before we can live, we must die. The problem people face today is their willingness to die in order to live. In a world where crime multiplies, selfishness reigns, we need a period in which to repent and return to God. This is what Lent is for.

According to the gospel of Luke, Jesus overcomes temptation in the wilderness. The temptation in the wilderness for a long period of time was a time for Jesus to make a choice how he was going to carry out his mission which he had just learned at his baptism- “beloved Son.” Shall Jesus use wealth, power or fame to save the world? None of these was accepted. He would be God’s suffering servant, a humble king of truth, love and peace.

The first temptation that Jesus had was an appeal to satisfy the appetites and physical needs of his body. Luke 4:3-4 says, “The devil said to Jesus, “Since you are God’s Son, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus replied, “It’s written, People won’t live only by bread.”

Jesus rejected the attempt to win the people by material means. He would not abandon his spiritual mission. Jesus was not unconcerned about the physical needs of people. He had seen famine and poverty, but He knew that bread could not satisfy the deepest needs of men and women.

Satan was trying to get Jesus to take a shortcut, to solve His immediate problem at the expense of his long-range goals. Satan often works that way, persuading us to do things, even good things, for the wrong reason. The fact that something is not wrong in itself does not mean it is good for you at a given time. First ask “Is the Holy Spirit leading me to do this? Or is Satan leading me to do this in order to get me off the track?”

The second temptation focused on another popular Jewish concept of the Messiah, one who would liberate Israel from their enemies and establish a political reign like King David had enjoyed. Many Jews prayed for God to send a deliverer to liberate them.

This temptation sought to get Jesus to complete His mission by fulfilling the Jewish people’s expectation for a political messiah. The Bible said, “Next the devil led Him to a high place and showed Him in a single instant all the kingdoms of the world. The devil said, “l will give you this whole domain and the glory of all these kingdoms. It’s been entrusted to me I can give it to anyone I want. Therefore, if you will worship me, it will all by yours.” Jesus answered, “It’s written, You will worship the Lord your God and serve only Him” (vv.5-8)

Jesus rejected Satan’s proposal to use force to accomplish God’s purpose, by quoting from Deut. 6:13. With unswerving commitment, Jesus affirmed His intent to serve only God. Satan arrogantly hoped to succeed in his rebellion against God by diverting Jesus from His mission and winning His worship. “This world is mine, not God’s” he was saying, “and if you hope to do anything worthwhile here, you would better recognize that fact.” Jesus didn’t argue with Satan about who owns the world, but He refused to validate Satan’s claim by bowing to him. Jesus knew He would redeem the world through giving up His life on the cross, not through making an alliance with a corrupt angel.

The third temptation relates another vision where Jesus sees Himself on the pinnacle of valley. If Jesus would jump from this high place, all the people, all the people would see him and Satan promised to bring him down safely.

“The devil said to Jesus, “Since you are God’s Son, throw yourself down from here; for it’s written: He will command His angels concerning you, to protect you and they will take you up in their hands so that you won’t hit your foot on a stone.”

Jesus answered, “It’s been said, don’t test the Lord your God.” After finishing every temptation, the devil departed from Him until the next opportunity” (vv.9-13).

Jesus again drew on the scriptures as He responded to this temptation (Deut. 6:16). Jesus declared that testing God was the opposite of trust. Faith did not require signs. Jesus refused to try to bring in God’s kingdom by sensational means.

Jesus’ battle with his recurring temptations to compromise His messianic vision and be a popular messiah continued all the way to the Garden of Gethsemane and to the cross.

Dear friends! Jesus was able to resist all of Satan’s temptations because He not only knew Scripture, He obeyed it. The Scripture says, “And you will need the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God”

(Eph. 6:17). Satan wants to make us doubt God, Jesus and our salvation. The helmet protects our minds from doubting God’s saving work for us. There are the times when we need to take the offensive against Satan. When we are tempted, we need to trust in the truth of God’s Word.

Knowing Bible verses is an important step in helping us resist Satan’s temptation, but we must obey the Bible as well.

Jesus’ defeat of Satan was decisive but not final. Throughout His ministry, Jesus would confront Satan in many forms. Too often we see temptation as once and for all. In reality, we need to be constantly on guard against the devil’s ongoing attacks.

When our lives are deeply rooted in Christ we are spiritually rich, regardless of circumstances. We are “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17).

God commanded Joshua, “Meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8).

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