When the Apostle Paul wrote this confident confirmation of the Corinthian Christian’s perception of the devices of the enemy, he was specifically speaking of the ability of Satan to take advantage of the bitterness inherent in an unforgiving spirit. This, however, is not the only device of the enemy and one is caused to wonder if in fact we are not ignorant of all his devices today. The purpose, therefore, of this series is to examine three of the devices of Satan as displayed in his attack on the Savior in the wilderness. We will look at the purpose of the device as well as the manner in which the Savior responded. It is our contention that Christ did not quote verses out of context; rather, the Old Testament context gives us a deeper understanding of the full implications of what Satan was attempting. The three devices then, used by Satan when tempting our Lord in the wilderness, were an attempt to defile worth by wickedness, to defile worship by worldliness, and to defile work by willfulness.
If we spend some time putting the temptation in the wilderness into context, it starts with the Spirit “driving” the Lord Jesus into the wilderness (Mark 1:12). This emphasizes the severity of the situation. The events to follow would not be a leisurely stroll through the park. The danger was real and not imagined; and the attack did come with all the cunning and ferocity of Satan during, and at the end, of the 40 days. And come it did with ferocious intensity, for 40 long days. Contrast this with our first parents being tempted in the garden. If we are generous, it appears that Eve, and then Adam, were tempted for less than an hour, in a perfect environment, with no hunger or pain, before their spectacularly tragic fall. Given this contrast between the first Adam and the Last Adam, some suggest that the temptation in the wilderness was one place where God was “vindicated by the Spirit” (1Tim 3:16 ESV).
As an aside, those who wrongly believe that the Lord could have sinned, but did not, look to the temptation in the wilderness as a proof text. They suggest that the temptation would have had no value, unless the Lord Jesus could have been tempted to sin. We would respectfully suggest this reasoning is obviously faulty. When I was a young man, my mother explained that one tests a diamond by cutting glass with no expectation that the diamond will fail. Similarly, the temptation of the Savior cannot be dismissed as an exercise in futility unless there was a real possibility of Him succumbing to sin. No. Rather, the temptation vindicated His claims as the sinless, spotless Son of God.
Defiling Worth by Wickedness
After 40 days of continual unsuccessful attack, the enemy rallies for one final onslaught. The first of the three-pronged attack (Matt 4:1-3; Luke 4:1-3), presents an obvious solution to the Lord’s problem of hunger, humanly speaking. It is superfluous to state that eating to satisfy one’s hunger is not sin. Stones were everywhere and the Savior would later state, “What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?” (Matt 7:9). Perhaps there was a subtle questioning of the love of the Father behind this attack but more direct was the attempt to get the Lord Jesus to satisfy natural appetites in an unnatural way.
The response to this attack is taken from Deuteronomy 8:3 and, in the context, the Savior is referring to the will of God. He suffered the children of Israel to hunger for a period of time but afterwards fed them with manna and brought them into a land where they would eat bread without scarceness (Deut 8:9). They were to learn first that there was a time and season for all things, and secondly, that there were larger principles at stake than just satisfying natural appetites: “Man shall not live by bread alone.” Unfortunately, this lesson was difficult for them to learn. They couldn’t wait to enter the land; they “loathed” the manna; and they lusted after the fish, fruits, and vegetables of Egypt.
The application as stated is that it is Satan’s desire to destroy your practical worth for God through wickedness. Your positional worth is safe and secure and cannot be touched by the enemy. Your practical worth, however, can be compromised, delayed, and even destroyed. Given the highly sexualized society we live in it behooves us to be blunt. Any sexual relationship outside of marriage is sin which will defile and destroy your practical worth for God. You will be disciplined. The attack is relentless. There are, as it were, stones around us everywhere. One can hardly check out of a grocery store without being defiled by the magazines on display. Simple clicks of a mouse will take you to web-pages where you must not go. (See inset.) The attitude of society is that abstinence until marriage is impossible, naïve, and even dangerous. Many unsaved parents enable their children to lead a promiscuous life. They think they are being wise and prudent. The opposite is true. Satan’s attack is relentless.
We are in real danger of succumbing to these attacks, of thinking like the world thinks, of seeing danger as harmless. Dear brother, dear sister, please be not ignorant of this device.
To be continued
The Internet offers an unimaginable wealth of information. At the same time, the dangers of the Internet are hideous, plunging to the depths of man’s debauchery. Today, not only is every imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart only evil continually, it is also on display on the Internet. We can offer two quick suggestions to address these concerns. First, and perhaps most importantly, have a discussion with your children about what is and what is not appropriate in your home. Second, be sure your household computers are filtered. You can purchase products that can be installed on each computer in your home or you can filter at your router. One free resource is OpenDNS which is found at www.opendns.com and will filter all computers using your wi-fi signal. One caveat, be careful when children ask for cellphones. A smart phone with a data plan will bypass any filtering software you have installed. For information on installing OpenDNS you can email John Bain at firstname.lastname@example.org.