This is Part 2 of a 3-part series in which I describe the 3 biggest temptations used by the devil to shake our faith. If you haven’t read Part 1, you can read the introduction and about the first temptation at The Three Biggest Temptations, Part 1. Continuing our series, we are drawing wisdom from Matthew 4:1-11 from Jesus’ own wilderness experience.
Looking Back For Just A Minute
Boy, could you relate to the first temptation to do things on your own and forget you need God? I sure could. I’m a fixer by nature and when I see a problem, I do my level best to fix it. Furrowing my brow, I put on my “I can do this by myself” cap, and try solving the issue. It’s not until after discovering another stress wrinkle and developing a headache that I realize I can’t fix it. I remember once again how much I need God in my life and so, I say sorry and ask for His solution.
Part 2 – Doubt God
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ “
The 2nd temptation was trying to get Jesus to doubt God and His Word. The devil quoted Psalm 91:11-12, where God promised to take care of those who put their trust in Him. Satan then tempted Jesus to put God’s Word to the test by throwing himself off the temple. It would be like someone reading where the Bible promises protection, but they want to make sure God is trustworthy, so they jump off a bridge to test Him. That would be a really stupid idea!
I think about the old saying, “God never promised you a rose garden.” The devil wants us to doubt God loves us or that He cares about our lives. So many Christians become disappointed in God when they experience difficult times. If God doesn’t get them out of a bind or answer their prayers in a certain way, then they toy with the idea that maybe God isn’t real or if He is real, then He doesn’t care about them. But hasn’t He already proven His love for us a billion times over?
Don’t Be Like Those at Massah
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ “
The scripture Jesus used is from Deuteronomy 6:16 where Moses told Israel, “Do not test the Lord your God as you did at Massah.” You may remember the story in Exodus 17 when Israel was coming through their own wilderness and they had nothing to drink. They argued with Moses and demanded he give them water. Moses went to God and was told to strike a rock. When he did, water gushed out. Moses called the place Massah and Meribah because “the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
Jesus knew his mission was to suffer and die on a wooden cross. His immediate future was looking pretty grim. Satan takes the opportunity to say, “If God is with you, would He send you here to die? Scripture says your Father won’t let anything happen to you, so test it and see if it’s true. The angels will protect you so you won’t have to die.” But Jesus didn’t fall for it. He knew it was God’s love that sent him. Jesus finished his mission so we could be saved and He trusted God to raise him back to life.
During our wilderness experiences, the devil whispers, “If the Lord is with you, wouldn’t life be rosy?” If we aren’t careful, we will fall into his trap and begin to doubt God.
An Ungrateful Child’s Temptations
When I was a young girl, I was tempted in a similar way. One night after church, I wanted to go to the local cafe for dinner. Some of my friends were going with their parents and it was something my family often did. That particular night though, daddy said no. At around the age of 6, I wasn’t quite as mature as I am now and I did what all adolescents do when they don’t get their way. I threw a fit and yelled at my sweet daddy, “You don’t care about us! If you loved us, you would take us out to eat!”
After we got home, I got the only spanking I remember getting from my dad. My words hurt him and he was disappointed in my behavior. I had a wonderful home, food, clothing, toys, and most of all, love, but I argued with him like those at Massah. I tested his love and gave this ultimatum: If you really love me, you’ll give me what I want!
When I saw all that I had already been given, I realized how ungrateful I was. I didn’t need to put daddy to the test because he proved his love for me everyday.
So Why Do We Doubt God’s Love?
God has provided us with a beautiful planet to live on within an awe-inspiring universe. He loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die for us so we don’t have to pay for our sin. He promised to meet every need. I don’t know about you, but He has given me far and above my basic needs. So, we should never doubt His love or feel the need to test Him, but we do sometimes, don’t we? As adult Christians, we need to quit throwing temper tantrums and remind ourselves of how much we have received from God. We need to silence the voice of the enemy.
What To Do In The Wilderness
When we find ourselves in the wilderness, we must do as Jesus did. We wield the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. We use the very weapon the devil tries to use and cut him off at the knees. When he tempts us to doubt God’s love, we remind him of Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” or Philippians 4:19, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” God never promised us a rose garden. On the contrary, he warned that there would be trouble in this earthly life, but He would take care of us if we trusted in Him.
There are so many verses available to use in encouraging ourselves and to remind the devil that God is not only real, but that His love for us is abundant. We may not always get to eat out when we want to, but our needs are met and we look forward to riches beyond our comprehension in eternity. We have no need to test God or ask Him to prove Himself. He has already proven Himself by giving us His most precious gift…His Son, Jesus!
But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made (Psalm 145:13).
No, devil, we will not doubt God!
Stay tuned for The Three Biggest Temptations, Part 3. To read the first of this series, go to The Three Biggest Temptations, Part 1.
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