On his final attempt of the day, he swung for the fences. It was all or nothing. And it was the kind of bold move you would only expect from an evil mastermind.
But this was more than just any evil mastermind.
So far, all of Satan’s attempts to lure Jesus away from the cross had failed. He came up empty after trying to get a hungry Jesus to avoid suffering by turning rocks into a meal. Jesus would have nothing of this. He counterpunched the Enemy with Scripture.
But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4 (ESV)
But the Enemy came back. This time, with Scripture of his own. You should never assume that God’s holy and perfect word cannot be used for evil purposes. Just turn your TV to the peddlers on religious television shows who use the Bible to steal money from the old and poor. This technique comes from Satan. He used Scripture to try to convince Jesus to put God the Father to the test.
But again, the attempt was futile. Jesus again fought back with Scripture. And won the round.
Satan 0. Jesus 2.
It was time for the nuclear option.
With his first two attacks, Satan was trying to get Jesus to misuse his Lordship. On this final attempt, Satan was boldly asking Jesus to put aside his Lordship and become a devil worshiper.
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Matthew 4:8-9 (ESV)
It’s the issue at the heart of every temptation that you will face.
Who or what will be the object of your worship? You might not know it but you answer that question each time you face temptation. When you give in, you say with Adam, “Does God really care for me?” When you resist, you say with Jesus, “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”
You don’t have a problem with pornography.
Or your temper.
No one does. Those are just the symptoms of a heart that has decided to worship someone other than the God of the universe.
You have a worship problem.
Take the Internet away from the sex addict and he’ll just find another addiction.
Throw the drug addict in jail, away from his drug of choice, and he’ll find something else to get high on.
Listen to all of the calming music you want but the evil within your heart will find another way to express itself.
The same is true with gossip or any other sin that we are confronted with when we look into the mirror of our soul each day.
Who is your god?
We have to answer that question multiple times a day. Sadly, we often give the wrong answer. Sex. Meth. Control. Comfort. Anything but the real God. And then sin. And then death.
“Be gone, Satan!”
Those are the words that Jesus spoke that put an end to his wilderness encounter with the Enemy. Satan left immediately. He had failed. The Messiah would still be the Savior.
But, even after his victory, his death and his resurrection, Jesus is not done speaking those words.
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32 (ESV)
Our standing before the real God is not dependent upon our ability to resist the Enemy. Our father Adam already proved man’s inability to do that long ago. And since then, we have been confirming that inability through our own sins.
That’s why we need a Savior. He did what we couldn’t do. He stared down the Enemy. And won.
On your own, when you say, “Be gone, Satan!” the Enemy laughs and comes harder, reminding you of your shortcomings with meth, sex, temper or whatever other traps he’s gotten to work on you in the past.
But thanks to God’s grace, Christians have another voice to speak for them. And he speaks on our behalf regularly (Romans 8:34).
So who will you worship today?
Will it be the victorious Son who loves you and stands where you cannot?
Or will it be the Liar who is bent on your destruction?
Christian, be encouraged. Even when your heart answers those questions the wrong way, you have a Savior who forgives and restores.
You have a Savior who prays for you.
You have a Savior who speaks on your behalf.
Be gone, Satan.
Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. Matthew 4:11 (ESV)