Summary: God uses times of wilderness in our lives so we might discover true identities as children of God.
If You Are…
Woodlawn Missionary Baptist Church
March 26, 2006
Read Luke 4:1-13
Who are you? If I were to go around the room this morning and ask each of you that question, how would you answer it? Do you know who you are? In last week’s message we looked at the baptism of Jesus as a small part of the great epic God is writing on the pages of history. Jesus emerged as the hero of the story as He received the baptism of John and set His face to the cross of Calvary. What will happen next? Where will the journey lead Him?
When you and I watch or read the great epics, we all want to play the lead roles. Who watches a movie and wants to be the villain or traitor or the moral weakling? None of us! Those great epics stir our hearts and move us! When we watch the Passion, that same wave of emotion comes over us; not just because of God’s love, but because there is something in us that wishes we had that kind of strength and courage.
I told you last week that three things take place when you choose to follow Christ as the lead character in your epic. You realize or come to terms with the fact that you are here to glorify God. That means taking up your cross and following Him. You burn the bridges behind you – there is no going back – and you start walking with Christ. I told you that when you finally do that, you’re going to experience the fellowship of the Son, the presence of the Spirit, and the affirmation of the Father. Not only is there joy in heaven when someone accepts Christ – there is joy in heaven when you choose to come alive for Him!
However, we are mistaken to think that all is peace and love and joy when we take up our cross. More often than not our desire to follow Christ leads us first into the wilderness. It is in the wilderness where we learn about ourselves, we were will either falter or come out the victor.
I see this all the time. Two friends chose to answer God’s call to preach. Their journey followed the path of full time ministry, and immediately both found themselves in the wilderness. One lives in the wilderness where he wonders whether God will use him. The other’s wilderness is going to require him to give up his pursuit of financial security. Will they falter or come through the victor? A man makes a commitment to live for Christ in the workplace, but then finds himself in the wilderness of isolation and ridicule. Will he falter or come through the victor?
The wilderness is different for each of us. More often than not my wilderness is simply a place in my mind and soul where I wrestle over daily obedience to the call of God on my life. Wherever it is for you – don’t forget this one thing: the Spirit of God led Jesus into the wilderness. He has led you there too so you might discover your true identity.
God told Jesus at the Jordan, “You are my beloved Son; in you I am very pleased.” Satan came along only days later and said to Him, “If you really are the Son of God…” Satan always works to make you question what God has affirmed. Some of you have put your faith in Christ. You are a child of God. Satan wants you to question that.
Do you realize how often we struggle with our identities? Does God really approve of me or not? He must not. Does God really accept me? He can not. How could God accept someone like me? How could God possibly be pleased with me? I can’t give like I used to. God must be disappointed in me. Have you looked at my life lately? God could never use me.
Satan delights in feeding you full of this sort of propaganda and intimidation. He delights in paralyzing God’s people and in deceiving those whom the Spirit of God is leading to become God’s people. He prides himself on his ability to cause you to falter in the wilderness. Thousands of Israelites died in the wilderness because they faltered when the testing of their identity came. When they grew hungry and thirsty and then later saw the giants in the land they longed to be Egyptians – but they were the people of the living God! They were the people of God, but when put through the fire they failed to see it.
Thousands are dying around us every day. Albert Schweitzer said that the tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives. The thief comes to steal, to kill and to destroy. He wants you to falter in the wilderness, to drop your cross and run. He wants to steal your desire to live for God. He wants to destroy any hopes you might have of following Christ. He wants kill your passion so you might live out your life merely existing. The three temptations of Christ in our text reveal how he causes us to do so.