St Paul's UMC
February 26, 2023
  • Because He Lives
  • Amazing Grace
  • Doxology
      • Matthew 4:1–11GNB

      • Psalm 32GNB

  • Before I speak to Jesus’ being tested in the Wilderness, it is important to we pay attention to what comes first.
    We just heard Matthew 4:1
    Matthew 4:1 ESV
    Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
    “Then Jesus was led up” indicates that something happened prior, “then” he was led up.
    That something was his baptism. Listen to the preceding text.
    Matthew 3:16–17 ESV
    And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
    baptized, filled with the Spirit, affirmed by the Father.
    “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
    Right here we see Jesus, as the prime example, the model of what it means to be truly human, initiating a pattern that will be true for all who follow.
    Christians are baptized in the waters, our sins washed away by faith, and we are filled with the Spirit of God - empowered to live a new life. And God speaks over each of us “This is my beloved son/daughter, with whom I am well pleased.” We are claimed and affirmed before we ever do one thing for the Lord.
    Having been spiritually filled and affirmed - Jesus is now tested.
    Testing comes after you are declared a child of God. Jesus was tested. And as many of you are probably aware already - we are tested.
    Why does God test us? Why was Jesus tested? For that matter, why do we need to be baptized?
    It is helpful, I think, to go back to the Bible’s first test.
    Genesis 2:15–17 ESV
    The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
    Genesis 3:1–3 ESV
    Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”
    Genesis 3:4–7 ESV
    But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
    during creation, God parted the waters so dry land appeared and from the dirt he created the first humans. He breathed into them the breath of life. And he affirmed them as his good creation.
    Genesis 1:31 (ESV)
    And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.
    He then put them to the test. He placed them in the garden and gave them authority as stewards over everything he created with one restriction, they could not eat the fruit of the tree of Good and Evil.
    The serpent arrives on the scene and plants seeds of doubt and confusion.
    Eve saw that the tree was good for food, a delight to the eyes, and was to be desired to make one wise.
    The first humans failed the test of obedience and sin entered the world.
    This three-fold pattern of sin has been effective in keeping us bound up. The apostle John would later describe it as the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes and the pride of life.
    1 John 2:15–17 (ESV)
    Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
    The desires of the flesh - the forbidden fruit was good to eat. The fruit was a delight to the eyes. And the tempting fruit was desired to make one wise - apart from God - which is the pride of life.
    What are the temptations in your life? What trips you up? What causes you to not walk step by step with the Lord? Is it a desire of the flesh - something that a part of you thinks will satisfy your hunger? Is it a delight to the eyes - something you have seen and will do whatever is necessary to pursue it until it is yours? (at its root is our false belief that what God provides is not enough.) Is it power or status or knowledge that once grasped, you think will bring you a sense of control and security?
    Somewhere in these three we all fall down.
    Because of the sin in our lives, which is part of our human nature, we are unable on our own to pass the test. We are unable to live in such a way that is perfect and pleasing to God.
    If only someone could pass the test for us!
    Matthew 4:1 ESV
    Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
    Jesus walks into the wild armed with nothing but the affirmation of His Father and the power of the Holy Spirit. Are we paying attention? this is helpful when we are tested.
    Jesus knew who he was. His identity was secure.
    This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
    And he was filled with the Spirit of God.
    Over the next forty days, he would experience great physical hunger, his body would become weak, yet everything he needed to overcome temptation was found in his identity and his source of power.
    Satan waited until he was at his weakest state and provided a solution to his pressing need.
    Matthew 4:3 ESV
    And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”
    What does Satan first try to cast doubt on?
    Jesus’ identity. “If you are the Son of God...”
    Where will he tempt you? Your identity in Christ. That is why it is so important to know who you are and whose you are. If you have responded in faith to God’s grace and have been baptized - you are a child of God. No one can take that away.
    Notice that Jesus does not pick up a stone and knock Satan over the head. If he wanted, Jesus could have instantly called forth a host of angels to fight his enemy. Instead, Jesus employs a weapon available to every single one of us. The Word of God.
    Matthew 4:4 ESV
    But he answered, “It is written, “ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”
    I love going out to eat. Especially now that the kids are out of the house and it is just the two of us. Nothing better than going out to eat after a long week and enjoying the experience of eating something that I probably will never make at home.
    Food brings pleasure to my life, but it is not what gets me through each moment of each day. True life, a full life, is discovered when we are living in accordance to God’s Word. Which implies that I better get what is written in here (point to Bible) into here (my head).
    Jesus says, it is written.
    Satan moves to tactic number 2. Apparently Satan knows the scriptures to - so he takes Jesus to the highest point of the Temple and says “if you are the son of God, jump” Matt 4:6
    Matthew 4:6 (ESV)
    for it is written, “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “ ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ ”
    Satan is cunning. How many Christians has he deceived through bad interpretations of God’s Word?
    Here Satan quotes from Psalm 91 which speaks to God’s deliverance for those who trust and seek him.
    Psalm 91:1–2 ESV
    He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
    Such a person trust in the Lord, in spite of being surrounded by enemies, knowing that God will take care of them.
    Interestingly, there are several biblical scholars who claim that Psalm 91 was used as an amulet prayer, worn around the neck, to protect against demons.
    Psalm 91:5–7 ESV
    You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
    In the Hebrew language, the words which are translated “terror of the night, pestilence that stalks in darkness, arrow that flies by day, destruction that waste at noon day” are the personified names of demons. So maybe Satan was keenly familiar with Psalm 91 after all.
    Regardless, Jesus wasn’t going to fall trap to bad interpretation. He replies once again with sound scripture:
    Matthew 4:7 ESV
    Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”
    Lastly, Satan takes him to a mountaintop and somehow shows Jesus every kingdom of man that will ever be. “All this can be yours - it is for me to give to you - all you have to do is bow down and worship me.
    Again, how many people has Satan deceived and ruined with the promise of fame and fortune and power? I can’t help but think of the legend around the bluesman Robert Johnson in the 1920’s. According to the legend, Johnson sold his soul to the devil at a crossroad in Mississippi in exchange for his remarkable guitar skills. In 1936, he recorded his song Crossroads which starts off:
    “I went down to the crossroads Fell down on my knees Down to the crossroads Fell down on my knees Asked the Lord above for mercy Take me, if you please”
    Well, legend or not - if he wrote those lyrics with his heart, he had nothing to worry about - for the Lord is merciful.
    Yet there are so many folks who forsake the gift of grace that God offers and instead - chase after power and riches in the kingdoms of this world.
    All kingdoms of this world do belong to Jesus and one day will bow before him - not because of some shortcut, but because he was obedient to his Father’s will - even when that meant death on a cross.
    Matthew 4:10 ESV
    Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “ ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’ ”
    Jesus passed the test that we could not pass. He righted the wrongs of our first ancestors. His whole life was lived in perfect worship and service to God, free of sin, and therefore, He alone, as our High Priest, could atone for the sins of the world.
    In our baptism, we are cleansed of our sin and filled with the Holy Spirit. Not because of anything we have done -but because of what he has done for us.
    God declares us His own - he affirms us as his beloved children, whom he is well pleased. Again, not because of what we have done, but what Christ did for us.
    When we are tested, it is not to condemn us or to trip us up, but to strengthen us in our faith and conform us into the image of Jesus.
    Therefore, Know who you are and whose you are. Your identity is in Christ. Get the Word of God in here and in here (head/heart) and be prepared to use it. You will be tempted and tested. At times, you will fall down.
    Get back up! Dust yourself off, tell Satan “Get behind me” and draw closer to the Lord.
    Matthew 4:11 CEB
    The devil left him, and angels came and took care of him.
    Dwell in the shelter of the most high, rest in the shadow of the almighty - God will care for you and your enemy will flee.
      • Matthew 4:1ESV

      • Matthew 3:16–17ESV

      • Genesis 2:15–17ESV

      • Genesis 3:1–3ESV

      • Genesis 3:4–7ESV

      • Matthew 4:1ESV

      • Matthew 4:3ESV

      • Matthew 4:4ESV

      • Psalm 91:1–2ESV

      • Psalm 91:5–7ESV

      • Matthew 4:7ESV

      • Matthew 4:10ESV

      • Matthew 4:11ESV