Let's begin again with the same question we asked in Round 1 and Round 2. When was the last time you were truly deeply tempted? When were you temped to do or say something you knew in your heart you should not do, or should not say? How did that work out for you? Did you overcome the temptation, or did you fall to it again? Was it something new you'd never been tempted with before, or was it that same thing you've battled with as long as you can remember?
As we've seen, temptation is NOT a bad thing. If we are led to temptation by God the Spirit (Mat 4:1; 6:13) how could it be? Why does God do that? It's so your heart will be tested so you will know what's in it (Deu 8:2-3). God already knows. Temptation, and only temptation, will truly show you. The devil is "all about" robbing, destroying, and killing you. (Joh 10:10) Understanding your weaknesses through temptation allows you to know exactly how the devil will rob, kill, or destroy you.
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has SEIZED YOU except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, HE WILL ALSO PROVIDE A WAY OUT so that you can stand up under it.
We know that's true. Temptation will seize you, but we were well capable to overcome the temptation, but didn't. It wasn't anything we couldn't bear. Also, in every temptation we've ever experienced, we saw the way out. God not only leads us to temptation. He provides a way out of it. Too frequently we simply didn't use it, but you knowing that weakness could one day save your life, your family, or you from destruction.
Jesus won round #1. He defeated the devil's temptation of the lust of the flesh by not turning a stone into bread to satisfy his fleshly appetites. You and I will win by not turning things into ways to satisfy our fleshly appetites, i.e. food into gluttony, wine into drunkenness, nicotine into addiction, sex into adultery and perversion, etc. Jesus won round #2 - the lust of the eyes by refusing to take a short cut bypassing the cross to acquire the authority and splendor of all the kingdoms of the world by worshiping the devil. We win by realizing we don't have a financial problem. We have a worship problem. We don't have a marital problem. We have a worship problem. We don't have an addiction problem. We have a worship problem. We don't have an anger problem. We have a worship problem. We try to take a shortcut, bypassing the cross and it never works.
The buzzer sounded for round 3 - the pride of life.
Luke 4:9 The devil led him to JERUSALEM and had him stand on the highest point of the TEMPLE.
In temptation, the devil is leading us. We are led to temptation by God, but during temptation, we need to know the devil is leading us.
It's time to tempt Jesus with religion. If the devil can't get you with the lust of the eyes, or the lust of the flesh, he will temp you with religion. The devil took Jesus to Jerusalem, but not only Jerusalem. He took Jesus to the highest point of the temple. There is no place on the planet more religious than Jerusalem and the temple location. Even today, nearly two thousand years after the destruction of that temple, it remains religious. With no animal sacrifices or altar to offer them upon, it's still religious.
Luke 4:9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "IF YOU ARE THE SON OF GOD,"
The devil again attacked the identity of Jesus. We talked about this in round one. A fighter will target a location and continue to hammer it. A boxer will continuously pound the opponent's body. A kick boxer will continuously kick the opponent's thigh. They break down the opponent by pounding the same spot. The devil will continuously pound our identity and there is nothing that does that in better than religion. Either you're a no good sinner (a guy once tried to tell me I was a maggot), or your sins don't matter to God. Two out of the three temptations, 66% of the devil's punches will pound your identity.
We looked at the genealogies of Jesus. Jesus could trace his ancestry all the way back to Adam and to God. Jesus knew exactly who he was. Father God declared at his baptism, "YOU are my Son, whom I love; with YOU I am well pleased" (Luke 3:22), yet the devil said, "If you are…" Everything in life will come from exactly who you are - your identity. If you believe you are a victim, you will go through life as a victim: a victim of poor parenting; perhaps a victim of abuse; teachers didn't like you; boss doesn't like you; police single you out. You will raise your children to be victims, i.e. welfare generations, alcoholic generations, wife abusers, men haters, etc. Your temptation in life is to be a victim. Your occupation, the spouse you select, the way you pay your bills, how you handle problems, how you raise your children, everything about you comes out of your identity. If you believe you are no good and a failure, you will live your life a failure. Failure will always be on your horizon. Your temptation will be to fail rather than live to succeed. However, if you believe you can do anything, you will live your life in success doing things no one else can do. Your life comes from your identity and the devil will hammer you there continuously.
Luke 4:9-11 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "THROW YOURSELF DOWN FROM HERE. For it is written: "'He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'"
The devil said (my paraphrase), "If you are the son of God you've got to be religious. Here we are in Jerusalem on the temple. Do something religious. Do something spectacular." He'll say to you and me, "If you are a Christian (to me a pastor), you've got to be religious. Here we are at church, do something religious to show everyone how spiritual you are. Do something more spectacular than Oakwood or First Baptist."
Have you ever gotten around certain places or people and literally felt a religious spirit? Religious people want to impress you with how spiritual they are. You feel you've time warped someplace. They talk "churchese" and pray using King James 1500's English.
Then there is the other extreme where their religion is to not be religious. They use their liberty for the occasion of the flesh. They smoke too much, drink too much, boast of their tattoos and piercings, wear short-shorts on the platform, flaunt their homosexuality, and instead of King James they use profanities. Both are religious. The devil will take you to your Jerusalem and your temple to challenge your religious identity. He will say to you "Be spectacular" with your religion."
Luke 4:9-11 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," HE SAID, "throw yourself down from here. FOR IT IS WRITTEN: "'He will command his angels concerning YOU to guard YOU carefully; they will lift YOU up in their hands, so that YOU will not strike your foot against a stone.'"
The devil always makes religion about YOU instead of about God. We should receive ministry, but we come here to worship God. Imagine what church would be like if everyone one of us totally focused on worshiping God instead of focusing on ourselves. What if instead of asking, "How was church from me today?" we asked, "How was church for God today? Did I worship God, or did I just go to church?"
Let's make certain we see who is using scriptures. The devil's using scriptures, right? If he used them to temp Jesus do you think he will use them on you and me? The devil knows what is written better than Christians and don't think for one minute he can't use them to rob, kill, and destroy you.
The devil said (my paraphrase), "I see you like to use scriptures. I study them myself. In fact, I have lots of false teachers who serve me and know scriptures pretty well. I was reading scriptures the other day and it is written, 'He will command his angels concerning YOU to guard YOU carefully; they will lift YOU up in their hands, so that YOU will not strike your foot against a stone.' You're special. Go ahead. Jump. You will get by with it. It's all about you. If anything goes wrong, God will get you out of it. You won't get hurt."
It would have been impressive had Jesus jumped from the temple point falling some 400 feet and not even bruise his foot. No one, not even the most religious High Priest, could deny he was the Son of God the Messiah King.
Realize this was a legitimate deep and full temptation. It was deeply tempting for Jesus to be religious and have the approval of the religious Jews. If the High Priest recognized and proclaimed Jesus the Messiah, Jesus would be an instant success with the full backing of Judaism. All he had to do was jump. God would get him out of it.
Psalm 91:11-12 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
This is the scripture the devil used. Impressively, he quoted his scripture more accurately than Jesus quoted the scriptures he used. The devil knows the Bible and he will use the Bible as bait to catch you and reel you to destruction and death with religion. Because a man or a woman stands behind a pulpit with a Bible in hand reciting the word doesn't mean it's to bring you life. It could be to get you to jump. As you know, the church world is full of charlatans who care nothing about people, but do want to rob them. They tempt with religion using your identity. "Send me money and you can change your identity of poverty to wealth and prosperity." "Send me money and I will send my book. It will teach you how to change your identity from sickness to health."
(The Message Bible) Matthew 7:15 "Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don't be impressed with charisma; look for character.
Over and over again Jesus and the apostles warn us to beware of religious people and the devil can be religious. Though he quoted accurately, he was out of context which happens frequently with false teachers and religious people. The context of Psalm 91 is " He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty" (Psa 91:1). It's when we dwell where we are supposed to be in God he will watch over us. It's not because we decided to jump into something we know we shouldn't.
Have you ever jumped into something you knew you shouldn't? It didn't turn out too well, so you expected God to keep you from being injured. The devil said, "If you are a child of God, a Christian, God will get you out of it. He won't let you get injured. Go ahead, Jump!" We did, landed hard, and expected God to keep us from being injured.
Luke 4:12 Jesus answered, "IT SAYS: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"
No "It is written" from Jesus this time. "Here is what the Bible really says Devil." Jesus referenced Deuteronomy 6:16. Here is what IT SAYS.
Deuteronomy 6:16-17 Do not test the LORD your God as you did at Massah. Be sure to keep the commands of the LORD your God and the stipulations and decrees he has given you.
At Massah the children of Israel were about to stone Moses because they had no water. It was there Moses brought water from a rock.
Jesus was saying, devil you quoted the verse well, but you are out of context. The context is not purposefully jumping into something I know better than to do and expect God to get me out. If I am dwelling where I need to dwell in God keeping his commands (ways), stipulations, and decrees, I won't jump into debt and expect God to get me out. I won't jump into addiction and expect God to get me out. I won't need to ask God to keep my wife/husband from finding something out I did. If I keep the commands and stipulations and decrees he has given, I'll never jump and test God. "I don't need to jump Devil. I don't have to prove how religious I am. God will take care of me because I do his ways, stipulations, and decrees.
It's interesting to me that the last round of temptations dealt with religion. Jesus was exhausted. He's had no food in forty days. He is weak. He is vulnerable. Many people come to church at those times. They are exhausted in life. They are starving for something to revive them. They are weak. They are vulnerable. That's when the devil comes with religion. "Jump into religion," he says. "God will fix everything for you. Test God. Your life's a mess. Just pray a prayer and go to church a few times. Get your fire insurance policy." They don't dwell in God. They simply go to church. They don't keep God's ways, decrees, or his stipulations. Nothing changes. They fall for the religious temptation. They then get away from God and unless they repent will go to hell.
Luke 4:13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him UNTIL AN OPPORTUNE TIME.
The devil tapped out. Jesus won the fight, but it's frightening knowing the devil never stops, or is it? No, temptation is for your good, not your bad. Realize God has led you to your wilderness to be tempted by the devil (4:1). The devil, through temptation, will show you what is in your heart. You will learn exactly how the devil plans to rob you, destroy you, and kill you if he can (Joh 10:10). Remember temptation is not sin or even bad. It's falling to it that is sin and bad.
The devil looks for opportune times. Let's put the devil into something other than the red guy with a pitch fork and horns. As God uses people to accomplish his will, the devil uses people to accomplish his will. The devil through people will look for an opportune time to attack you, your family, your children, your health, etc. For example, when a marriage gets rocky, someone will come tempting one or both spouses. If the devil can't get them morally, he will find an opportune time to bring someone along who will tell them how unhappy they are. They will tell you to take care of yourself, you don't need anyone. The devil will send people to destroy you and they will always come at opportune times.
Some of us are in the middle of a temptation battle right now. Some of us are between temptations. One thing is for certain. None of us are immune to temptations. It's time to prepare for the next battle. Get familiar with the Word of God. Again, it's not about your quoting it and knowing book, chapter, and verse. It's in knowing it is written. Knowing this is how life really works out. That's what meditating on the Word of God means. It's in knowing if I do this, here is what will happen because IT IS WRITTEN. Be around people who love to talk about the Word. Don't miss church and teaching.
One of the most devastating things about my job is when I watch people take the devil's bait and be reeled off, becoming trophies on his wall. They lose their relationship with God. They stop coming to church. They always, every time go off to destruction. I've never seen that not happen when people stop attending church. I'm not saying you have to go to church here, but you must go someplace that is not "religious." You've seen it happen to others. Don't allow temptation to get you.