In last week’s devotion, we mentioned that when most high officials are inaugurated, there’s usually plenty of people, parades and pomp. But when Jesus started his ministry, there was none of the above. Instead, he walked into the wilderness, by himself, for a showdown in the sand with the devil.
Our next three devotions will take a closer look at those three temptations the devil brought to the showdown. These three temptations are so common to us all! Very few of the devil’s temptations stray far from these three. The first one is described here: “2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, Jesus was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’ 4 Jesus answered, ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:2-4).'”
The devil is nasty, attacking Jesus when he was physically weak. His first word was brilliantly terrible: “If.” He introduced doubt to the simple facts. Jesus is the Son of God. He’s 100% God and 100% man! His relationship with his Father is perfect. But the devil called all of that into question with the two letters: “I-F.”
From there, he offered a poisonous, selfish shortcut. Why has God asked you to fast? That’s no fun. That’s kind of a pain. Isn’t that a dumb idea? Isn’t it time to take a shortcut? Who’s going to know? Who’s going to see? If God is loving, and you are his Son, why so much suffering? Why such a bad plan? It’s time to take a break. Take a sinful shortcut…tell these stones to become bread.
Jesus did not play around with devilish doubt. He did not mull it over. He did not consider it a possibility. He did not strike a compromise. He knew exactly who he was, and that the Holy Spirit wanted nothing but heavenly blessings for him. If that included a lonely fast for awhile on earth, he was content with that. And he responded swiftly and decisively to the devil. He quoted from the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’
In essence, Jesus was announcing to the devil, “I have what has come out of God’s mouth. I am perfectly content with that. I don’t need any sinful shortcuts.”
Our Savior won! He didn’t take any sinful shortcuts! His victory is our victory! This helps us when the devil saunters over with his brilliantly terrible seeds of doubt. Does God love you? Is his Word the truth? Will he help you through this problem today? And even if he does…will you have to fend for yourself tomorrow? Do not mull over the word “if.” Do not consider any sinful shortcuts. Get your facts from the Bible. Your Savior is in control. He has forgiven you. He will always be with you. He wants nothing but heavenly blessings for you as he leads you through every valley today, tomorrow and always.
We too can say, “I have what has come out of God’s mouth. I am perfectly content with that. I don’t need any sinful shortcuts.” Send Satan screeching away from your soul today!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you came to destroy the devil’s work. You were anything but casual as you fought off Satan’s temptations, one at a time and every time. Give me contentment in your Word. Help me to swallow everything that has come out of your mouth. Give me the same resilience, focus, love and determination to fight off the devil’s attacks on my own soul. Help me to avoid the extremes of pretending that there is no battle, as well as the extreme of thinking that I must still be my own savior. Instead, comfort me with your victory, and let me use your gospel armor of forgiveness in the war for my soul. It’s in your holy name that I pray, Amen.