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Fighting Temptations

by Skip Heitzig |
I had a brush with the dark side before I was saved: I invited spirits to speak to me and through me, and I found it to be very, very, powerful. But I remember I had a thought that evening: if there's this much power on the wrong side, how much power must there be on the right side? That's what got me interested in searching out and being open to the right side--God's side.

Talking about the Enemy, the Devil, is not my favorite subject. I'd rather not have to tell you about him, but we all have to deal with him. Jesus even had to deal with him, and it's good to be refreshed on the Enemy's devices so that we're not ignorant of them (see 2 Corinthians 2:11).

Let's look at the temptation of Jesus by Satan in Matthew 4. First, notice when Satan's attack came--after Jesus was baptized! After such a glorious, blessed-by-God event, the Devil showed up. Satan also attacked Jesus when He was at His weakest level physically: "[Jesus] had fasted forty days and forty nights, [and] afterward He was hungry" (v. 2). This is a principle for our lives: don't be surprised when you receive a tremendous blessing and the Enemy is right there to hijack it, or when you're at your most vulnerable and Satan shows up.

Notice that the first temptation the Devil brought Jesus was questioning God's provision: "If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread" (v. 3). He was suggesting that the Father was allowing His Son to starve. "Boy, Your Father doesn't take great care of You, does He?" It was a slam on the love of God and a temptation for Jesus to do for Himself what God the Father had obviously not done. But Jesus answered him with Scripture: "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'" (v. 4).

Then the Devil "took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, 'If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: "He shall give His angels charge over you," and, "In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone"'" (vv. 5-6). In this second temptation, Satan questioned God's protection. But Jesus immediately came back with, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God'" (v. 7). In other words, "The Scripture you quoted is true, but I don't need to prove it's true anymore than you would say, 'Well, if God's going to protect me, I'm going to go lay out in the freeway.'"

The third temptation begins in verse 8: "Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, 'All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me'" (vv. 8-9). The Devil boldly acknowledged that he is the god of this world, but Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve'" (v. 10).

This third temptation was, I believe, the hardest of all for Jesus: Satan questioned the promise of God. God had promised His Son all the kingdoms of the world (see Psalm 2:8-9), but Jesus knew He had to suffer and die on the cross first. Satan was saying, in effect, "How do we know these promises will ever be fulfilled? You don't have to go to the cross. I'll give it all to You right now--just fall down and worship me." How often does Satan try to get you to question the promises of God? "Yeah, I know the Bible says that, but God hasn't been taking care of you, has He? Why should you wait for that thing to happen? You can have it now." But Jesus said, "Away with you, Satan!"

And that's where I want to end: you don't have to be afraid of the Enemy, because you're dealing with a defeated Enemy. You have the victory in Christ because He did suffer and die on that cross and rise again, and "He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4). Remember that you're fighting not for victory, but from victory!

In His strong love,

Skip Heitzig

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