Text: Luke 4:1 – 13
As a student pastor, I had my first confirmands for a confirmation class. We were having a session, imitating how some of the very first Christians lived with the threat of persecution, one of the leaders jumped in the door and said with a scary voice, “Are you Christians?” The exercise was done to be a surprise. What was even more surprising was that some of the kids reacted differently than one might have anticipated. Some of the ones you thought would have been tempted to answer that question with denial actually affirmed that "Yes, they were Christians". There were also some who acted as if they were too scared to answer the question at first.
When you think about Jesus’ time of being tempted in the wilderness, we cannot help but to see that in that wilderness Jesus conquered the things that would have conquered us. Satan sought to ambush Jesus while He was weak and vulnerable. Satan seeks to do the same thing to us.
Satan often seeks to strike from a hidden position. Whether hidden and concealed or hidden in plain sight Satan seeks to ambush us. We can only be victorious through Jesus Christ.
What makes us vulnerable in our spiritual lives? How many traits that could make us vulnerable would you put on a list? How many of you would put pride on the top that list? Pride makes us swell within. According to the Encarta Dictionary the word “swell” is described as “something, larger, fuller, or rounder, or expand in size or shape, usually as a result of pressure within.” Pride can makes us swell when we are “full of ourselves”. Pride can makes us swell to the point that we get “too big for our britches”. My oldest sister used to use that expression on me when as child when she thought I was getting too proud and cocky.
What did excessive pride do to Lucifer?
1) Spoiler: It (pride) became a stumbling block.
2) Defiant: Satan’s pride became a stumbling block to him because he was disobedient.
3) Banishing result: Satan’s name before his fall was Lucifer which means carrier of light. Satan, led a rebellion in heaven before he was cast out of heaven. ") I Kings 15:23 says that “Rebellion against him is as bad as witchcraft, and arrogance is as sinful as idolatry. Because you rejected the LORD's command …” (GNB). Revelation 12:9 describes the banishment: “And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him” (ESV).
4) Deception: Genesis 3:5 hints at Satan’s rebellion in his suggestion of mixing the truth with what is false. Satan is always involved in what John Wesley called "mixing truth and falsehood together … " (John Wesley. Sermon 57. "On The Fall Of Man”). Satan’s arrogance caused him to rebel and become idolatrous.
Are we vulnerable in our choices like Eve was in the Garden of Eden?
1) Easy choices: Easy choice are not always the best choices! Choices impact the path or paths we take along our Christian journey. We avoid and evade difficult paths. Nevertheless, we cannot avoid all decisions. As someone (Sharon H. Ringe) has said “… most of us are slow deliberately to choose the path of discipline. …. We must be tested, often by being led to places of hunger and despair. Only then do we learn dependence on God, who graciously provides for all of our needs”. (David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor. eds. Sharon H. Ringe. “Exegetical Perspective”. Feasting On The Word. Year C. Volume 2. Louisville: John Knox Press, 2009, p. 44).
2) Hard choices: Jesus definitely took the road less traveled when he went into the wilderness. Jesus remained obedient in the wilderness even though he was extremely weak and vulnerable.
Where do we lack discipline? Do we lack discipline in our complacency?
1) Challenges: Did Peter prefer his comfort zone because he did not like to be tested? Our complacency is another place where Satan aka the father of lies (John 8:44) seeks to ambush us. An ambush is a surprise attack from a seemingly secure location.
2) Smooth Masquerader: Satan can masquerade as an angle of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Satan laughs at us when we think of him as a hideous and horned figure looking dressed in red with a pitch fork in one hand and a pointy tail.
3) Spiritual Warfare: Without the guidance of the Holy Spirit to remind us of what Jesus taught us (John 14:26) we are prone to being deceived by Satan. Billy Graham once said “If our eyes could see, we would probably see the air filled with demons who are the enemies of Christ”. (Billy Graham. Angels Innumerable. Minneapolis: Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1971, Revised 2000. [pamphlet]). This is why our prayer life is so important. How many times do we see Jesus praying in the New Testament? Jesus prayed often and stayed focused on His mission and so should we!
What do you think of when you hear the word faithful? Probably, the most likely things that we think of are devotion, unshakable belief, and the object of our faithfulness. For a Christian, God is the object of our worship, devotion and unshakable belief. We are victorious when we are faithful.
1) Faith in the furnace: We can be confident that God who began a good work in us will carry it to its completion (Philippians 1:6).
2) Crucible: We a have role in helping God to help us by seeking to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12). “For it is God who works in us to will and act according to His good purpose” (Philippians 2:13). 3) That is why we are victorious when we are faithful! God works with us to help us in being faithful.
We are victorious only by God’s help.
1) Jesus told us that we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).
2) We are the light of the world because of His light that is in us (John 8:12).
3) Satan cannot stand the light or the truth of Christ which is why he targets Christians so heavily.
4) As our High priest Jesus, sympathizes with us because He was tempted in every way just as we are ourselves” (Hebrews 4:15 NIV). 3) Someone (H. A. Ironside) once pointed out that Jesus “… was not tempted to find out if He could sin, but to prove that He was the sinless One”. (H. A. Ironside. Addresses On Luke. New York: Loizeaux Brothers, 1946, p. 115). Like Jesus, we have to pray and trust God to get us through every wilderness experience.
Like Peter, Satan wants to sift us like wheat (Luke 22:31). Remember what Peter said? Peter told Jesus that He would never deny Jesus and then shortly thereafter, Peter denied Jesus three times (Luke22:34). Later, Peter was ashamed of himself. We need to remember three things.
1) Ambush advisory: Jesus knew where how and when Peter was going to get ambushed by Satan.
2) Jesus also knows when, where and how Satan plans to sift us and ambush us. Jesus prayed for Simon Peter that his faith would not fall.
3) Jesus also prays for us for the same reason.
We continually need the Lord’s help because Satan will continue to tempt us every chance he gets.
1) “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world” (I John 2:16 KJV). It is in these three areas that Satan seeks to launch his ambush.
2) It is also in these same three areas---the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life that we are as James 1:14 says “tempted of our own evil desire as he/she is dragged away and enticed” (NIV).
3) Jesus suffered (Hebrews 2:18) while being enticed with the first temptation which was social as well as personal; with the second temptation that was political and the last temptation that was religious. (Fred B. Craddock. Interpretation. Lousville: John Knox Press, 1990, p. 56, [paraphrased]).
4) When we look at all of the ways that Satan is seeking to entice us and deceive us, we cannot help but to conclude that Satan is so crafty that he even custom designs his strategy with the way he seeks to ambush us with each and every temptation. As someone (J. C. Ryle) said it best when he said: “That murderer and liar who vexed Job, and overthrew David and Peter, still lives and is not yet bound. If he cannot rob us of heaven, he will at any rate make our journey thither [toward] painful”. (J.C. Ryle. Expository Thoughts On The Gospels. Volume 2. Luke. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, reprint, 2007, p. 109). That is why Jesus came to conquer sin, death and the fear of death so that those things could not conquer us!
In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.