Defiling Worship by Worldliness
Last month we began looking at the devices of the devil. The three devices of the devil were an Attempt to Defile Worth by Wickedness, to Defile Worship by Worldliness, and to Defile Work by Wilfulness. This month we examine the influence worldliness has on worship.
The second attack (in the order recorded in Luke) is unbelievably audacious. It is interesting that Satan does not preface this attack with, “If Thou be the Son of God” as he does in the other two. Clearly such an introduction would negate what follows. In this temptation Satan presents to Christ a defilement of worship and he uses the world as the enticement. The word for “world” used in the Matthew passage is the same as used in Mark 8:36 “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Given the Savior’s obvious knowledge of what is at stake in this proposition, the temptation is anything but subtle. Rather, it is blatant, crude, and heavy-handed. One may wonder why the Savior did not quote from Psalm 2:12 and point out that the world was not his to give. As we noticed already, these temptations were real. Satan is not offering what he cannot deliver. Ephesians 2:2 identifies him as having dominion over the world – same word – as the Prince of the Power of the Air, and while this is a temporal, usurped dominion, it is still his for now.
Again the Savior’s response is from Deuteronomy (6:12-13) and in its context, is associated with the Exodus generally. “Beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve Him, and shalt swear by His name.” The initial event associated with the Exodus was the request by Moses on behalf of God to allow the people to go three days journey into the wilderness to worship. It is something Satan hates and will do his best to defile. Originally Pharaoh is belligerent and refuses, outright, but once the plagues start his tactics change to a number of compromises. In the order they appear he first suggests “Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land” (Exo 8:25); and then, “sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only ye shall not go very far away” (Exo 8:28); and then, “The Lord be with you, if ever I let you and your little ones go!” (Exo 10:10 ESV); and finally, “Go ye, serve the LORD; only let your flocks and your herds be stayed: let your little ones also go with you” (Exo 10:24).
The application is clear. I remember in my youth being taught that a “three days’ journey” represented a whole week devoted to God. If, figuratively speaking, we are travelling toward the Lord’s Day on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday we will arrive on Sunday, the Lord’s Day to gather to His Name. We then travel back, figuratively, on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday only to depart again to start the cycle anew. Such a complete heart devotion to the Lord is as precious to Him as, I suspect, it is rare. We are more likely to find ourselves making the compromises of Pharaoh. Can I not worship God and remain in the land? If that is not possible, is it really necessary that I get that far away from the world? Do I have to “inflict” my convictions on my children? Can I not leave them in the world while I go to worship? And finally, should I be careful not to get too carried away, too committed financially, to the assembly?
The issue of children is one which requires great wisdom. Moses makes a clear statement: “We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters.” Children come of an age where they will make decisions for themselves earlier and earlier and time quickly flies by. The day when this is no longer your decision will vary from child to child, but when, or if, that time does come, be wise. A praying parent displaying a loving care for a young one by asking them to come to a gospel meeting as opposed to a stern parent demanding, may make the difference between rebellion and respect. You do not want the door to slam behind a lost son or daughter determined never to come home again. We need wisdom from God!
Worship is precious to God and therefore a target of Satan. His blatant presentation of the extremes to the Savior, “worldliness for worship, should be a warning to us. The choices are rarely presented to us in such stark contrast. They are rather presented as the “reasonable” compromises of Pharaoh. It is a device of the enemy of which we should not be ignorant.
To be continued