Summary: a sermon about overcoming temptation.
“Dueling with the Devil”
By: Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN www.eastridgeumc.com
Immediately after Jesus is baptized, He is compelled by the Spirit of God into the desert or wilderness.
The wilderness is a metaphor for the “domain of demons.”
It’s a place of vulnerability.
It is a place where our guard is down and we are desperate.
It is a dangerous place, for it is the playground of Satan!
The Bible informs us that Satan is the “Prince of the Power of the Air,” the “Ruler of this world,” and 1 Peter chapter 5 informs us that our “enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
Therefore we are called to be “self-controlled and alert.”
We are to “resist him, standing firm in the faith…”
But how can we do this when we are in the wilderness, the domain of the demons?
Every day, every moment we face temptation.
Remember Achilles from Greek mythology?
Achilles was the guy who was dipped head first into the River Styx, and this made him immortal and invulnerable, except for his heel that he had been held by.
Achilles later suffered a mortal wound to his heel—his vulnerable spot.
And Satan is quick to notice our Achilles heels…it’s where he stoops for his attack.
What is your Achilles heel?
It is important to know it and be aware, for it is the place you are most vulnerable—you will be attacked there over and over again!!!
That is a guarantee!!!
The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus was tempted in every way possible.
And these temptations were all ways of distorting, perverting the reason Jesus came to earth: to be a truly human being, to be God’s Person, to be a Servant to the world and to other people.
Jesus shared our flesh and blood.
In the human sense, Jesus was the descendant of Adam, as we all are, and He faced not only what Adam faced but also the powers that have been unleashed through human rebellion and sin down through the ages!
The Devil has become used to twisting human beings into whatever shape he wants.
Satan is the essence of everything that is against God.
If God loves us more than we can imagine; Satan hates us more than we can imagine…
…for the very sake that we are God’s beloved!!!
When we look at the Bible we see that it is the Devil who is behind human disease and suffering.
It is Satan who seduces Judas.
It is the Devil whom we must fight.
It is the Devil whose power is broken by the work of Jesus.
It is the Devil who is destined for final destruction.
Satan is the power which is against God and everything which is good.
God the Father was saying to Jesus, in essence, “Take my love to men and women; love them till You die for them; save them by this unconquerable love even though You will finish by hanging on a Cross!”
Satan was saying to Jesus, in essence, “Use Your power to blast men and women; obliterate Your enemies; win the world by might and power and bloodshed.”
“Accept the status quo of the rebellious state of the world…
…acknowledge that selfishness and practical atheism prevail, and fit in with it!”
“Jesus, with Your power You can have it all!”
God said, “Set up a reign of love.”
Satan said, “Set up a dictatorship of force!”
The three temptations we read about in our Scripture passage for this evening are plausible, attractive, and make, as we might say, a lot of sense.
But, they have to do with selfishness, power, and the easy way out.
And these are the temptations that the Devil is whispering in our ears every day, are they not?
Go for power!
Live for self!
Love is over-rated!
There sure are mighty echoes here of Adam and Eve in the Garden, with the serpent whispering plausible lies about God, God’s purposes and God’s commands.
A single command; a single temptation; a single devastating result!
Jesus is our model for resisting temptation.
He quotes Scripture, refuses to use His power selfishly, and prefers the Word of God to “material things.”
Do we know our Bible well enough to thwart the lies of the Devil?
Do we spend time, each day in God’s Word?
Do we come to Bible study?
When we have a question, do we turn to God’s Word?
The remedy to temptation and the Devil is more than willpower.
Did you know that during the years of 1987 and 1990, eight million children disappeared in the United States?
However, not one of them was abducted.
Not one of them was kidnapped or harmed.