Sometimes life is interrupted by unannounced tests of faith.
Job’s life was interrupted…
Abraham’s life was interrupted…
With the advantage of reading their stories in their entirety we can see that it was worth the interruption. They learned much about God on the other side of the test. Their faith was refined and strengthened. Their testimonies continue to encourage those going through tests of faith today.
The Bible is filled with stories of tested faith. Even Jesus experienced a testing of faith.
“After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” Matthew 3:16-17
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.” Matthew 4:1
This verse is similar to the verses in Job where God and Satan both have agendas for mankind:
God desires that tests cause us to draw near to Him, to listen to His voice of truth, and respond in faith, so that we experience His power and love in ways we never have before.
Satan wants to test us so that he can steal, kill, and destroy us. He means for tests to turn us away from God, to leave us feeling alone and unloved so that we believe his lies, and give up on God.
What Satan means for harm, God intends for good.
“If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” Matthew 4:3
Look at the first thing the devil said to Jesus…
“If you are the Son of God.”
Satan twists God’s words to cause doubt of who God says you are…
Are You really His dearly loved Son?
If so, why are You alone and hungry?
You have the power, why don’t You take care of Yourself?
Jesus didn’t fall for the deception. He knew the truth of who He was.
Jesus didn’t allow the devil’s words to bring self-pity. He didn’t focus on His loneliness or hunger.
Though He had the power, Jesus didn’t take things into His own hands and provide for Himself.
Instead He quoted God’s truth…
“But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4
Jesus used God’s word to speak truth into the deception, the temptation,
Truth dispels lies.
The devil enticed the desires of Jesus’ flesh; His hunger, His weariness, His power. Satan had a solution that would solve his physical needs. If only Jesus would take his advice He would feel better. But Jesus’ response spoke to the need beyond the physical; He spoke of the sustaining life found in God’s word. As important as bread is, it’s the words from God’s mouth that give real, satisfying life.
“Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’” Matthew 4:5-6
This time Satan tried using God’s words, those words of truth, of life. But though they were God’s words they were spoken from Satan’s mouth; the father of lies, the deceiver; words meant for harm.
Jesus came to earth to do His Father’s will; to demonstrate God’s power and love. Jesus could have jumped off the highest point of the Temple and proved Himself to all, but it wasn’t according to His Father’s will, and it wasn’t the way God wanted Him to demonstrate His power.
“Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’” Matthew 4:7
When Satan speaks God’s word it is taken out of context, is twisted, and it comes from the motive to counterfeit, confuse, to harm.
Jesus knew His purpose here on earth. He knew He was here to do His Father’s will and He wasn’t going to listen to the voice that tempted him to presume on God. He didn’t assume He could do what Satan told him to do and God would take care of Him.
“Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” Matthew 4:8-9
This time Satan offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world that God had given to him. God cast Satan out of heaven and made him ruler over all the earth. Satan didn’t know the future. He didn’t know all Jesus was going to accomplish here on earth, but he certainly wanted to thwart any plan God had for Him. Satan’s desire to be worshipped was what got him thrown out of heaven, and this was the motive of his temptation of Jesus, and he continues to offer power to those who will bow down to worship him today.
“Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God
and serve only him.’” Matthew 4:10
Jesus quoted the Greatest Commandment. It is the Greatest because when we obey this verse completely everything else in life will work together for our good.
Jesus gave us the example that we are to recognize whose voice is speaking. We are to know the difference between truth and lies.
Only by studying the truth will we recognize a lie.
Because there are times when deception makes more sense than truth.
Deception will use human logic…
Deception will use fleshly reason…
Jesus said that His sheep know His voice. Our Good Shepherd is for us, and because His thoughts and His way are not like ours, because they are so much higher than ours, we need to spend time with our Good Shepherd so we become familiar with His voice. We must learn to trust His voice above ours…above our limited logic, our human reasoning. We must lay aside our own understanding and trust in His ways, no matter what.
When the voice of the tempter comes we must learn to perceive the lies, the deception. We must recognize the twisting of scripture, the counterfeit, confusion, and wrong motives.
Satan’s temptations seem logical to your flesh…
Satan’s words make sense to your human reasoning…
“Tell these stones to become bread.”
I’m starved! I’m alone! I’m weary!
Does God see me out here, does He care about me, does He love me?
I have the power! I can take care of myself!
What voice did I hear on the phone that day when the nurse called about my blood test results? It was a voice that told me what was true… my numbers were way too high and I needed to call my doctor right away.
I gave into fear.
I didn’t quiet my heart and pray. I didn’t seek first the Kingdom of God. I didn’t take time to listen to the voice of my Good Shepherd.
In fear I relied on logic…
“Wow, that is a huge number! I need to call my doctor right away and get back on medication.
In fear I reasoned…
Even though I feel fine, even though I believed I was healed, I guess I was wrong.
Relying on logic and reason, and reacting in fear I immediately called my doctor and scheduled an appointment.
“Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.” Matthew 4:11
Jesus didn’t respond with logic, reason, or in fear. His words of truth sent the enemy away.
And in the absence of the tempter, of logic, reason, and fear, God sent His ministering angels to take care of Jesus’ physical needs.
So, in hindsight, I wish I had responded differently when I received that phone call.
But, it was part of my faith being refined and strengthened.
Because, what the enemy means for harm, God intends for good!