Return to the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus.
Mat 4:4 But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'
Mat 4:7 Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God.
Mat 4:10 Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, [fn] Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'
I am sure you have heard hundreds of sermons preached about how our Lord Jesus used the “written” Word to ward off temptations from the devil. We have been encouraged to do the same when we are faced with tough temptations. We are chided, exhorted and taught that we need to know the Word if we are to speak the written Word to the devil, just as our Lord Jesus did.
I still remember a preacher’s message, “How can you say “It is written….when you don’t know what is written!”. I thought it was a great message then. Many a times when I was faced with temptation, I tried to use whatever little I knew was “written”. But often times, at the face of temptation, my mind went blank with regards to scriptures. The written Word was not the strongest thought at that moment, but the struggle between knowing it to be wrong and yet being tempted by the pleasure of sin.
Doesn’t work mate! Speaking out the “written Word” doesn’t work. If that were true, then Apostle Paul wouldn’t have had to write Romans 7, in which he explicitly explains how he struggled with temptation. Please stop now for a minute and read Romans 7:8 right through to verse 25. Are you suggesting, Paul did not know what was written? I think not!!
Almost instantly accusations follow from the enemy, which we seldom can counteract. Because we are all guilty of course. We find ourselves weak at that moment. Sure, after a little while (maybe a few days for some), we do get back up on our feet, because by then the temptation is gone and we are able to think clearly again. By now we realize, Jesus our Lord has cleansed us from all sin and we begin our fresh walk with the Lord again, until our next temptation. Then the whole cycle continues….True?
So then, what about Matthew 4? We see our Lord Jesus resisting the devil and his temptations using the written Word of God. Are we not to follow His example?
No, we are not! Did I just shock you? Friends, Let me “Re-introduce” our Lord Jesus and the true gospel to you.
Jesus was both fully God and fully man. All mankind has fallen short of the glory of God. There was only one man on earth who was totally, completely, fully sinless and absolutely righteous. That was Jesus, the Son of the Most High God. No one else. He came to earth to pay the ultimate price for the sins of mankind and rescue us all from eternal damnation. To do this, He had to be born of the law (which no man could keep). Hence he was born of Mary, in the natural way, just like man. To be asinless sacrifice for mankind, He HAD TO keep the written law of God and live His life fulfilling the law. Remember, Jesus said “ I am the fulfilment of the law.” He also said in
Mat 5:17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
So, even in the face of temptation, Jesus fulfilled the law, by speaking out “It is written, It is written, It is written….because He knew what was written in the law AND He was the only one who could keep it. No man was/is ever able to abide by the law. Jesus was the only one and remains the only one capable of fulfilling the law.
For example, the law of the land states the speed limit on city roads is 50mph. We know the law. We are tempted to speed, but we are able to refrain and abide by the law. We are capable of refraining from breaking the law. But with the law of God, we are NOT capable of refraining from breaking the law. Only Jesus had that capacity. That’s precisely why He had to come.
Jesus didn’t come to “demonstrate” to us, how to keep the law, but to deliver us from it. As the bible says, we were already dead in our trespasses. Jesus came to breathe new life into us. He didn’t come to make bad people good through behavioural change, but to make dead people alive through transformation.
That is the gospel friends. That’s why it is called Good News. Why? Because we are not condemned anymore for having broken the law. We are forgiven. We are redeemed from the curse of the law. (Galatians 3). Our righteousness therefore comes by faith alone. Faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross. Our victory over temptation comes by faith alone. Faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross.
When we are faced with temptation now, we ought not to try and remember what is written, but we ought to remind ourselves, we are the righteousness of God now, through Christ’s finished work on the cross. We ought to remind ourselves, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1). We ought to remind ourselves that we are saved not by our good works and will power to stay free from temptation, but by trusting in the finished work of Christ on the cross. The more we remind ourselves of this, the stronger we get in faith and the weaker sin and temptation gets. And suddenly one day, you see how petty and inconsequential that very temptation is.
Jesus our Lord knew He was righteous and sinless. That’s why He boldly said “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.” He was the only one without sin, in that story. But He didn’t cast the stone, but forgave the woman caught in adultery. That’s because He also knew He was taking that woman’s sin upon Himself shortly. Because Jesus knew He was righteous and sinless, He had the confidence and boldness to cast evil spirits out, cast sicknesses out and command healing. They had no hold on Him. That’s why He said in John 14, whoever believes in Him, will do the works He did and even greater things that what He did.
Jhn 14:12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
How is that possible you ask? If we truly believe the gospel message, then we ought to live by faith that we are now sinless just as our Lord was/is. We ought to live by faith, KNOWING that because of Christ’s finished work on the cross, demons and sicknesses have no hold over us. We are sinless and just as righteous as Jesus is because of the finished work on the cross. When we really believe that, then we will have the boldness and authority to command demons out and heal the sick. That is the gospel message friends.
Temptations are not overcome by knowing and quoting what is written, but by faith in the finished work of our Lord Jesus . Amen!!
I was radically transformed by the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ back in 1997 in a most unusual way and unusual place. Read my testimony here. Over the years I have come to realize a few basic truths that have altered my life.
True freedom is freedom from self-centeredness. Dying to yourself, your wants, your desires and to what gives you pleasure for the sake of others is more liberating than you think.