Monday, March 6, 2017

Sword Practice: Who You Are in Christ Part IV

To be good at swinging your sword, you must practice.  We are going into training with Jesus to gain insight on how to wield the Sword of the Word.  Then we will look at verses which are sharp and pack a punch with the accuser.  Use these verses to strike back when Satan accuses you of being less than what the Word says you are. First, let’s look at the temptation of Jesus to gain an insight on how to use the Sword of the Word.  Luke, chapter 4:1-13, sets the scene: 

1 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
2 Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.
3 And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.
4 And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
5 And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
6 And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.
7 If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.
8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
9 And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence:
10 For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee:
11 And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
12 And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
13 And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.

Many writers have done an excellent job unpacking this portion of Scripture. I will take it purely from a lie/truth angle.  If Satan is the father of lies, a murderer and a destroyer, his goal will be to:
·         blunt your sword with his lies
·         turn your sword against you by murdering the truth
·         knock the sword from you hand and break it by destroying the integrity of God’s Word 
So, let’s break it down.  The first insinuation is “If You’re the Son of God...” (4:3). Satan is lying.  Earlier, upon receiving baptism in the Jordan from John, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus and the voice of God said, "Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased." (Luke 3:22) 

Satan is trying to blunt the word Jesus just received from His Father and call its truth, that He is indeed the Son, into question. Satan will blunt your sword and call God’s promises into question every chance he gets.  Response?  Fight back.  Don’t shrink and think, “Maybe he’s right…”  Remember:  Satan is the father of lies, so if he speaks it, the truth is the exact opposite of what he said. Jesus fights back.  He affirms that He is indeed the Son of God and His power is not for filling men’s bellies but filling their hungry hearts with the truth: God’s very words.  Jesus stands on the truth, which will be heart and soul of His ministry.  Jesus equally stands on the truth of His Father’s declaration of who He is:  His Son. 

Next, Satan tells Jesus that all power is his to give and the only price of admission is worshipping him.  He is trying to turn Jesus’ sword of truth—the proclamation that He is God’s Son—against Him. Satan wants to take Jesus’ sword from Him and drive it back into Him.  In essence, what Satan is saying is:
Fine then.  Be the Son.  Have the power.  But it’s limited.  In Heaven, fine, but You’re not there—You are here and here it’s mine to give, not God’s.  Worship me here and I will give You what You really need:  real earth-centered power.  Not some heavenly version, all lofty and out of touch, but the real deal:  earthly power for an earthly ministry.

Jesus fights back.  He didn’t come to redeem kingdoms.  He came to redeem us.  He didn’t come to wield power.  He came to reveal truth.  He didn’t come to receive glory.  He came to show the glory of His Father in all He said and did.  So, Jesus realigned the sword back to its rightful position:  Worship alone is God’s.  Period. Jesus stands on the truth of His relationship to His Father: He is the Son who pleases the Father because His heart is utterly devoted to Him. 

Now, Satan ups his aggressive stance.  He is not shrinking back, for he has one last thrust to make.  If he can knock the sword altogether from Jesus’ hand, Jesus will stand there helpless and defenseless.
Why?  The Word is our offensive weapon.  Armor protects and deflects Satan’s blows.  We can take charge and thrust back with the Word.  If Satan knocks it away, by making us doubt God and His Word, all we can do is take his blows and hope for the best. Satan now quotes Scripture in a clever way.  Dare I say it, but it is in a “truthful” way.  Lies don’t have to be 100% false to be lies.  If the lie is only 10% and the rest is truth, the truth is adulterated, poisoned, rendered false.  That’s like saying your lemonade is only 10% poisoned and the rest is fine! So, in Satan’s last thrust, he seeks to knock the truth right out Jesus’ hand by using it to justify his next suggestion. 

Let’s look at the original verses Satan is using: "For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.  They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone." (Ps. 91:11-12)

Look at verses 10 and 11 from our passage in Luke.  Not bad, Satan.  He quotes them well. But context is everything.  Without context, a text becomes a pretext to do whatever you want. By isolating the text from the surrounding verses in Psalm 91, Satan is saying:  Hey! With all that power You have, Son of God, You are allowed to do anything. Epic demonstrations of Your power will make Your ministry flourish like no other. 

But Satan’s endgame is destruction.  He wants to knock the sword from Jesus’ hand by twisting it into something dark and sinister: It’s all about You, Jesus.  Turn all the attention to You…Your power, Your abilities.  All this “honor God” stuff is fine for other people; but You’re not like them, Jesus.  You can draw all men to Yourself by what You do.  Doing the work of Your Father (sounds a bit boring if you ask me) is not going to be nearly as captivating to Your audience as Your sheer displays of power. You will be unstoppable. 

But a twisted sword is no longer a weapon.  It’s a shadow of its former self.  So, Jesus sets the verses back into their proper context by His refusal to even acknowledge Satan’s logic.  Jesus stands on these verses taken from the beginning of Psalm 91: "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust."(Ps. 91:1-2)  

Jesus thrusts the sword back into Satan’s face by saying:  You want Me to take my Father’s words, which speak of truth and trust, and turn them into something dark and compromised. My Father’s words are too precious to use in that sinful and self-serving manner.  I dwell not in my own ego, my plans or my desires, but safely under the trustworthy wings of My Father.  His power is Mine, yes, but His desires and will are My only refuge. I dwell in Him, and He is absolutely worthy of My trust.  Any use of His Word to further the flesh is wrong.  Tempting God to prove Himself is not love nor trust.  End of debate, Satan.  Be gone.

Jesus stands on the truth of Who God is: God is completely trustworthy.  John joyfully declares in 1 John 1:5: "This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all."  Think about it for a moment.  Satan is using the same ploy with Jesus that he used in the Garden of Eden.  Satan said to Eve in that same insinuating voice: “Did God really say…” (Gen. 3:1 NIV)  So, from the very beginning, Satan tried to strike down God’s very words.  His tactics have not changed.  He is still trying to get us to doubt the truthfulness of Scripture. 

A soldier fights the enemy from a deep belief that God’s Word is just that:  God said it, and because He is Truth, His words are as well. So, to summarize this Sword Practice, you must:  Stand on His declaration of who you are: His son or daughter.  Stand on your relationship with Him, having given Him your heart. Stand in the light of Truth knowing that the enemy’s lies are a quick trip into darkness. Stand on God’s utterly reliable character, by knowing and believing His Word.

Now that Sword practice is over, go hit the shower.  Oh, wait a minute.  You’re cleansed by His Word, so you’re good.


Now, here are your key verses to S.T.A.N.D. (Spiritually Trained and Not Defeated) on:

I am a child of God in Christ:  "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.  The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God…" (Rom. 8:14-16)

I am an heir in Christ:  "Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." (Gal. 4:7)

I am free in Christ:  "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." (John 8:36)

I am blameless in Christ:  "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love…" (Eph. 1:4)

I am strong in Christ:  "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy…" (Jude 24)

I am forgiven in Christ: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)

I am living in Christ:  "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."  (Gal. 2:20)

I have hope in Christ:  "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Rom. 8:28)

I can never ever be separated from Christ’s love:  "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  (Rom. 8:35-39)

Take that, Satan. 

This is part of an ongoing series on spiritual warfare.  Remember:  to use the Word, you must know the Word. 

2 comments:

  1. The last verse indicates that this was not the last of Satan's temptations.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are right. Satan never let up on Jesus. You hear him especially in the taunts of those who stood beneath the cross. But on Sunday morning, the laughter stopped.
      Thank you for your comment! Blessings!

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