Saturday, July 02, 2005

Jesus in Spiritual Warfare

.... Jesus was tempted throughout His entire life on the earth (Heb 4:15). But after His baptism He was tempted in three very direct ways, which have become known as 'the great temptations':

.... Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread."
....But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'"
.... Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple,and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.'"
....Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'"
....Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me."
....Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.'"

(Matt 4:3-10)

.... Christians have long noted that Jesus answered the devil by quoting Scriptures, and that the Scriptures are the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17). Battle was clearly being waged, but to whom did the battle belong? Have we noticed the attitude in Jesus’ heart, in the Scriptures that He quoted? This is the true battle, so let’s paraphrase and take another look:

Command that these stones become bread:

.... "That is not the heart of My relationship with God. I abide in Him. I live by every word that proceeds from His mouth; I depend on His word, and not on My own initiatives."

Throw Yourself down.

.... That would abuse My relationship with God. I submit to Him, rather than tempting Him. I follow Him, rather than expecting Him to follow Me.

Worship me.

.... Be gone! My relationship with God is such that I submit to Him alone, and serve Him. I clearly state My submission to Him, and to no other.

.... In other words, in each case, Jesus submitted to God in order to resist the devil (James 4:7). In itself, this is usually all we will need to do. Because submitting to God automatically excludes adverse thoughts such as temptation: "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You." (Isa 26:3).
.... Please notice that even in the greatest of temptations, Jesus did not actually resist the devil, in the sense of turning to fight against him, until He saw that the devil was persisting (Matt 4:10). Likewise when we submit ourselves to God, this will usually be enough to win the battle in itself. But when we see the devil persist, we might point this out to God and request His help:
.... "You tell the devil that I rebuke him!" we might feel the Lord saying; and then, as in Michael’s example, we might turn and say to the devil "The Lord rebuke you!" or, "We rebuke you in the name of Jesus!" while remaining in submission to God the whole time. This is the correct and effective way to foil his temptations and set him at flight.

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