Greetings Friends! In my New Year Post, I spent some time going over the beautiful harmonious life Adam and Eve had in celestial Eden, the garden Paradise God planted for our first parents. We saw Adam and Eve were the only humans who ever lived and experienced firsthand the life God wanted for mankind to have with human immortality and a Love relationship with God. It was a life God wanted all humans to have with Him. Yet, all that was destroyed in one crucial moment of temptation when they allowed Satan to convince them to sin against God.
They were given specific instruction by God about not touching, much less eat, the fruit of a certain tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The instruction was simple and uncomplicated. But the devil twisted God’s instruction and lied to them. (Gen.2:17; 3:4) Jesus told the Jews of His day concerning the devil, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me!” (John 8:44-45).
So, for that brief moment they believed Satan’s lies over God’s Word for them. It was a moment of weakness. Through their disobedience, sin entered human life. Our first parents were banished from Paradise because they could not live in the spirit of rebellion and sin in God’s presence. The Love relationship they had with God died the instant sin entered their lives. (Gen.2:17) With regard to their physical mortal life, death was not so immediate, rather death came sufferably slower through a way of life inspired by rebellion and fear, which led to sin, emptiness, and ultimately death. (Gen.2:17)
For such was the legacy Adam had left for humanity, and thus we are consigned to the reality of this human life of facing the devil’s temptation every day of our lives. Temptation comes in all shapes and sizes, and in every way, shape, and form. Lamentably, this burden has placed a weak and unprepared mankind to figure out and overcome the devil’s temptation which has been slowly but surely destroying mankind. History has shown humanity’s utter and dismal failure at facing man’s eternal foe. But our Loving God has not left us to the mercy of the enemy, instead, after our first parent’s fall, God promised to send a second Adam to put right the wrong the first Adam had done. The decree uttered upon humanity, “For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return,” had an ‘expiry date’ as soon as the Messiah would appear to redeem mankind and bring back immortality. (Gen.3:19; John 6:40; 3:16)
In His infinite Love, God promised humanity He would send the second Adam, His Son Jesus, to rescue humanity by defeating Satan through the temptations the first Adam had failed to do, and ultimately through His sacrificial death upon His cross to absolve mankind from the sin-condition and death the devil had consigned humanity, and bring the gift of immortality from our Father. From this, we see the reality of what it took to save humanity – it had to take the life of God’s very Son to enter our rebellion-conditioned and sin-filled humanity to save us from the devil’s temptation, and ultimately die upon His cross as our Savior.
This work of reconciliation resulted initially from Adam’s failure to defeat the temptations of the evil one. So, for humanity, we see a future which was forever changed in Eden after the fall of our first parents. But more strikingly, it had to take the life of the second Person of the Godhead, God’s very Son, to enter our sin-filled world in order to redeem us from the spirit of rebellion, once for all. So, the imperative is upon us to understand the enemy’s ploys to tempt humans so the curse of sin is stopped at its heels through Christ. And Paul makes this a priority in human life when He said, “So that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes” (2 Cor.2:11). Paul was speaking in the past tense to mean humans are no longer like the first Adam, but the second Adam has brought the light that rescues humanity. Paul was speaking in the context of forgiveness in the sense that with pardon comes a life where we’re not being outwitted much less vanquished by the enemy, but by being fully aware of his devices so humanity will always seek redemption and make good what the enemy had done in Eden.
But here is the most vital truth of Jesus’ work: Jesus has defeated Satan on behalf of humanity when He faced him in His own temptations. (Matt.4:1-11) By defeating Satan He has defeated him for humanity. What does that mean? Paul said it like this, “For if, by the trespass of the one man (Adam), death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous” (Rom.5:17-19). This speaks of the principle of attribution.
What does attribution mean? It means to impute one’s act upon another. It means someone’s act is superimposed over another so there is interactive accountability one for another. Just as Adam’s sin brought upon humanity the rebellious spirit, sin, and death, so Jesus, the second Adam, ushered God’s Spirit of Love, true life, and immortality. We cannot escape this principle of imputation because it is automatic. We can better understand this principle through the creation of Eve, the second human. Eve was not separately created from the earth as Adam was. She was taken from Adam’s side (rib), to show humanity is indivisibly united and one, not separate. Hence, the act of one is always the act of the other through oneness in the original creation of Adam. This thought was clearly in Paul’s mind when he said, “He who Loves his wife Loves himself” (Eph.5:28). It is about the oneness of human personhood that’s united by Love. (Mar.12:29; Deut.6:4) This is based upon the Trinitarian principle of God who created humanity in His likeness indivisible from His one Triune Being. (Gen.1:26-27; Matt.28:18-19) Just as Eve was taken out of Adam and is part of God’s inseparable humanity, all people are descended from them and therefore live by the attributing principle showing unity and oneness through their deed.
Therefore, through this attributing principle, which states, “For just as through the disobedience of the one man (first Adam) the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man (second Adam) the many will be made righteous” (Rom.5:19), God has imputed Christ’s victory upon us, so that His victory over Satan becomes humanity’s victory as well. Jesus told the disciples, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the (Satan’s) world” (John 16:33, italics mine). The victorious life in Christ means the righteous, sinless, conquering, life He lived when He was in His Immanuel divine/human form, which He continues to now live in the life of the believer through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Isa.7:14; Matt.1:23) Jesus’ victorious life is superimposed over humanity. This is no different with His death upon the cross – God has attributed Jesus’ sacrificial death upon mankind so all humans are already saved from sin and redeemed. All that remains is for each person to receive God’s grace through faith and trust in Jesus as personal Savior.
There is another aspect of the principle of attribution we must understand – personal responsibility. God spoke to the prophet about the duty of His servants and the people. He said, “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from Me. When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself. Again, when a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before them, they will die. Since you did not warn them, they will die for their sin. The righteous things that person did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the righteous person not to sin and they do not sin, they will surely live because they took warning, and you will have saved yourself.” (Ezek.3:17-21).
So, although Adam’s sin is imputed upon mankind automatically because of our human indivisibility in him, so Christ’s saving work does the same. (Rom.5:19) Thereby, each of us have a personal responsibility to adopt Jesus’ new humanity or reject Him. To receive Jesus means to warn about, and turn away from sin, so that we can withdraw ourselves from the cycle of rebellion and turn to the circle of God’s Love. In this way, we are imputing Christ’s work of reconciliation and victory through us. (2 Cor.5:18) Through Jesus, God brings humanity a full circle to the original imputation God had created humanity to represent – in His image and Love-likeness. (Gen.1:26-27) (You can read more on this principle of attribution at: http://bulamanriver.net/12351).
The principle of attribution conveys the truth that we cannot defeat Satan on our own, except through Jesus. Where the first Adam failed, the second Adam succeeded. There are other considerations, the enemy is not human, but the old evil spirit who has been tempting humans since Adam, and chose to be God’s adversary from the start, Satan. (Isa.14:12-14) Paul explains what we are up against, when He explained Satan’s world to the Ephesians, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Eph.6:12). We can defeat this unseen enemy and his equally invisible cohorts only through Jesus’ own personal victory. In other words, we can defeat the devil, because Jesus has already done so for humanity, and continues to do so again in us through the power of God’s Spirit is us. (Rom.5:5; 1 Cor. 3:16)
Today, we will get to see four areas of life Jesus has revealed to us through the way He was tempted by Satan and see where the devil seeks to get into our minds and our lives and deceive and tempt us to rebel and sin against God. The devil’s plan is to keep the cycle of rebellion and sin going for as long as he can. God’s plan through Jesus is to end it, and bring all humanity into His circle of Love. Satan had succeeded with Adam and Eve, but he failed miserably in his wicked attempts with Jesus. We have much to learn from Jesus’ own experience in His four temptations.
In every age and time humanity has been asked to make a choice between two broad paths in life that is represented by the two trees and the two Adams: that of bondage or freedom. Bondage leads humans to a way of life based upon ‘self-centeredness’ which brings on distress and disillusionment in life. Ultimately it weakens us and we suffer a life of defeat. True, there may be seemingly sporadic worldly “successes,” but they are really illusions, not realities in truth. Its entire philosophy is founded upon the spirit of rebellion and opposition to God from the devil. Freedom means exactly the opposite. Its leads a person to a way of life based upon ‘other-centeredness’ through God’s Spirit of Love. So that instead of a life of disillusionment and failure, we experience life as our Creator intended for humanity made in His image to have that’s full of triumph and jubilation, of accomplishment and exuberance, and eternal joy.
This goes back to Adam when he had to choose for humanity between bondage and freedom. He chose bondage. And ever since man’s struggle has been to attain that illusive freedom that seem to escape them. However, we somehow apprehend it in our present incarcerated circumstance, because the enemy has given us his version of success which are not real but are illusions. And because they are really many forms of bondage, not freedom, for we find no fulfilment in them. It seems like humanity is forever in a state of bondage, and freedom is just a pipe dream. After struggling and overcoming one form of bondage, like a stump of a tree that’s not fully destroyed, it sprouts again and again with its insidious fruits abounding and rearing its ugly repressive head ready to trap unwary humans.
The reason for this is made clear by Jesus Christ, He explains it metaphorically, “A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So, every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions” (Matt.7:17-20, NLT). Apparently, it seems like Jesus was taking us back in time to the very beginning, where the problem between bondage and freedom started with our first parents and the two trees in Eden for they represent freedom and bondage. The “Tree of Life” symbolize freedom. The “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” symbolize bondage. (Gen.2:9)
We know the story, Adam was banished from Eden because he chose to eat from the tree which portray a way of life of bondage. Eden represented the presence of God and both trees existed in Eden, meaning, nothing happens outside of God’s sovereignty. The “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” was not corrupting of itself. It symbolized knowledge that’s necessary for humanity to make wise decisions where they understand the difference between good and evil. God used it to teach our first parents. However, in this particular instance, God used this tree as a prop to prove our first parent’s faithfulness to His purpose for them. Their unfaithfulness did not put a stop to the human thirst for knowledge. What we must realize is there is a difference between human knowledge and intellect and God’s truths as represented in the “Tree of Life” and generated through God’s Spirit. As Jesus said, “A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.” Paul explains that on one hand human knowledge vainly puffs humans up, while God’s truths Lovingly builds us up. (1 Cor.8:1) Wisdom is recognizing the difference between the two trees, and applying oneself wisely.
The Bible chronicles our human past. After eating the forbidden fruit, God asked our first parents, “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from? The man said, ‘The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’ Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’ After He drove the man out, He placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the Tree of Life” (Gen.3:11-13; 24; 6). So, the road to true freedom through the Tree of Life was cut off because of human rebellion and sin. The two trees are metaphors of two ways of life placed before humanity to choose. Satan tempted Adam and he fell to his temptation. Then Jesus, the second Adam, was similarly confronted by Satan through His temptation. (Matt.4:1-11; 1 Cor.15:45) In the four temptations Jesus reveals how He was confronted by Satan in the Judean wilderness, and by extension taught humanity the layout of the enemy’s schemes to keep humanity under his deception and in the bondage of sin.
Before we go into the temptations of Jesus, we must begin with God’s word of encouragement for us – we can overcome the enemy’s temptation because Jesus has already done it for us – not because we can do it on our own. The first thing we learn about ourselves and the devil’s lies and temptations is that Jesus came to expose the enemy’s schemes so we won’t have to be ignorant of his deceptions, and “not be ignorant of his devices” (2 Cor.2:11, KJV). The four temptations tell us the four areas of life which the devil will tempt humanity as he did with Jesus. They are, 1) sustenance, 2) reliance, 3) materialism, lastly 4) power and influence. What we will go through is no different from what Jesus experienced, except contextually, of course. Also, Jesus was perfect and sinless originating from God’s eternal Triune Being who became the Immanuel human (God in human flesh), whereas we are children of Adam’s fallen humanity who carry his harmful baggage. We have acquired this self-centered way of life with many bad and selfish habits through the temptations of the devil. Even though Jesus has defeated Satan for humanity, it does not abrogate by any measure the human responsibility we touched upon earlier in Ezekiel. We take responsibility to reshape our lives and allow Jesus’ to relive His victorious life in us by defeating the devil’s four temptations through the Spirit’s power. (Read more about the two human forms given to mankind at: http://bulamanriver.net/9718, and at http://bulamanriver.net/19496).
An often-overlooked point of Jesus’ temptation was that He would not confront the devil until He was empowered with the Holy Spirit at His baptism in the Jordan river. (Mar.1:9-11) Though Jesus was fully God, He was also fully human, and His humanity needed the Spirit’s power and influence. (Act.10:38) This was to show us that as humans we too cannot overcome the enemy’s wiles without the Spirit’s divine power, miracles, and inspiration. Jesus also lives and walks in us by a rebirth into His new ‘Immanuel humanity.’ Recall, it was the Spirit who led Jesus into the wilderness of Judea to face the devil, not before then, so it is with us. (Mar.1:12-13) Hence, Jesus told the disciples “Wait for the promise of the Father to send the Holy Spirit” (Luk.24:49). Only Jesus’ return to the Father would make that event happen, for He said, “Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7). Jesus reinstated the gift of the Spirit upon humanity from the Father ever since Adam and Eve were forbidden access to the ‘Tree of Life’ (Spirit) in Eden. (Gen.3:13)
Jesus brought the Spirit back when the Father poured Him upon all humanity on Pentecost. (Matt.3:16-17; Act.2:1-4) Why is this important? Because Satan is the evil spirit, and God’s Spirit is the Holy Spirit. The Bible says Satan is “your enemy the devil who prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet.5:8). Satan’s weapons are fear and rebellion – both leads humans to sin and death. A human’s weapon is the Holy Spirit who brings Love, power, the miraculous life, and immortality. The Spirit is the power who manifests Jesus new humanity and leads a person in the way of Love. (Rom.5:5)
Let’s begin… 1 Sustenance: What does sustenance mean in relation to Satan’s temptation? In Jesus’ first temptation, He had fasted for forty days for spiritual strength. Satan knew Jesus had divine power, so he tempted Jesus to use His power to turn stones into bread and satisfy His famished body after having fasted for forty days. (Matt.4:1-4) The temptation had both physical and spiritual aspects wrapped into one. Satan said to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread” (Matt.4:3). Jesus replied, saying, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matt.4:4). Jesus recognized both the physical and spiritual aspects of His battle with the devil. In other words, every human is a mortal being and also a spiritual person who was created in God’s spiritual Love-image. (Gen.1:26-27; 1 John 4:8) Both the physical person and the spiritual person must be fed and sustained in different ways. The physical person is fed through food and drink, and the spiritual person is fed through God’s Word and His Love. There is a balancing act to be lived out, we are not to feed one while ignoring the other.
Jesus made this abundantly clear when He taught the people of His day, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet, I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to your as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt.6:25-34).
Here, Jesus explains what our priority should be, He said, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. For your heavenly Father knows that you need them” (V.33, 32). Yes, the sustenance of the spiritual person takes priority over physical sustenance. And this is what Jesus said was the vital point concerning life and the way it ought to be lived. Jesus had been fasting to feed the spiritual person, while the devil was tempting Jesus to switch His priority by taking care of the physical need above His spiritual sustenance. How do we prioritize our lives before God? It is not wrong to look after our physical bodies through proper nourishment, but Jesus is asking us to evaluate our priorities because Satan will tempt us to reverse our priorities and wrap our lives in material preferences and trappings for the physical life over the spiritual life. Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever (attain immortality)” (John 6:51, also John 11:25). Jesus, the Personified Word of God, is the spiritual food that feeds the spiritual person.
God’s ultimate plan for humanity is to give us the gift of immortality so we will become His Loving children forever. As immortal humans in God’s Kingdom physical food will not sustain us. Our spiritual bodies will be sustained by the spiritual food of God’s Love. The Bible states, “And so we know and rely on the Love God has for us. God is Love. Whoever lives in Love lives in God, and God in them” (1 John 4:16). God’s Love is His eternal Word of truth which is food for immortal humans. This is the only way by which humanity can and will be sustained forever. The Bible also reveals that God’s Word is Personified in His Son, Jesus, hence through Him we have access to the divine Triune Life who has glorified our humanity forever in Himself. (John 1:1)
If we feed on Jesus for our sustenance, then His Word will come true, for He said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For My flesh is real food, and My blood is real drink” (John 6:54-55). Jesus was not talking about cannibalism by any stretch of the imagination, but He was speaking metaphorically about adopting His new spiritual humanity…it is spiritual flesh and blood that requires spiritual food which His new humanity feeds upon. (You may read my post about Jesus’ new humanity at: http://bulamanriver.net/19496) Further, Jesus said, “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:39-40).
So, the Father’s purpose is to bring humanity to immortality, and the devil’s ploy is to try his utmost to stop it through death. And the way in which the Father will do this is to sustain us well every day with and through His Son. Hence, the devil will emphasize the physical matter to blind our eyes to the spiritual food of Jesus as the personified and literal (Bible) Word of God which truly saves. (You may read my article, title, “Study to Show Yourself Approved,” at: http://bulamanriver.net/9482).
2 Reliance: What does reliance mean in terms of the temptation of Satan? Let us see how Satan tempted Jesus in this area of life. “Then the devil took Him to the holy city and had Him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw Yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command His angels concerning You, and they will lift You a up in their hands, so that You will not strike Your foot against a stone’” (Matt.4:5-6). Just like the first temptation about sustenance, the temptation had both the physical and spiritual aspects wrapped in one.
As we see from the context, the temptation revolves around a vital promise the devil quoted to Jesus which God gives humanity, beginning with Jesus. Reliance is about dependence upon God and His promises for us, that is the spiritual aspect of this temptation. Then there is the physical aspect of human self-reliance and doing what seems right in our own eyes. Reliance is about a way of life of inter-dependence with the divine as opposed to independence in yourself under the devil’s sway.
But in this case, Jesus was well versed with God’s promise, that is why the devil quoted it to Him. However, there was no physical way of saving Himself by jumping off the highest point of the temple. There was no modern-day contraption that He could use to ensure a soft landing. So, what was the temptation about? It was about deliberately placing Himself in danger without cause to test God at His promise. And there is a specific command to not do such a thing. The Bibles states, “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test” (Deut.6:16). To do that would mean, a person is tempting God instead of wholeheartedly trusting and believing His promises.
Humans are God’s creation and He may from time to time test us, as He justifiably should, for humans remain fallen and susceptible to rebellion since Adam’s fall. However, humanity is commanded to never put God to the test for His Word is sure like a rock that can never be moved. There is a difference between ‘test’ and ‘tempt.’ We must remember God tempts no one. James tell us, “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone” (Jam.1:13). Rather, our first parents were living in the dynamic of God’s Love and a relationship that is motivated and wrapped in His Love. Love is real and alive when it is made to grow and flourish. Love is eternal and can never stagnate, nor be inoperative and unfulfilled. With humans, Love is made to flourish through free choice and the testing of a person’s free-will.
Jesus saw Satan’s ploy, and responded appropriately, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test’” (V.7). We ought to take note of how Jesus defeats the devil – He quotes God’s Word. Jesus’ spiritual sword was God’s Word which He wielded to defend Himself and apply offensive tactics to defeat Satan’s temptation. (Eph.6:17) We do likewise to defend ourselves and overcome the devil’s wiles and deception.
So, we have read the specific command given to humans to not test God at His word and promise. (Deut.6:16). We simply trust His Word in childlike faith. Scripture tell us, “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Heb.11:6). Further, James tell us the following about faith, “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do” (Jam.1:6-8). Yes, whatever God has promised in His Word is true and sure and can be forever relied upon. (You can read more on, “Jesus Faith” at: http://bulamanriver.net/2811)
However, most humans are not well versed with God’s Word like Jesus was to be tempted by the devil in the way He was. Most of humanity are hugely unaware of God’s promises for them. So, the devil will use their ignorance to tempt them. Does that ring true for any of us? We ought to be well-versed with God’s Word and promises for us. Our salvation depends upon it. Just as assistance and pointer, I would refer you to the following website to get acquainted with God’s promises: http://scripturepromises.com/. I do not sponsor this site nor do I benefit from what they do. I merely use it as a reference point for you to further explore God’s Word and discover God’s precious promises for you and your loved ones in your reading and study of the Word of God, the Holy Bible. Peter tells us the following, “He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Pet.1:4).
You see, through God’s promises He joins Himself to us becoming “partakers of His divine nature.” The question is, are we joined to Him through His promises? That happens when we know and understand His promises, and live by them. We saw in the first point of sustenance that God’s Word is what sustains the spiritual person. And God’s promises are part of His Word.
So, the second temptation we will face in the world of Satan concerns reliance upon God’s promises, and desisting from doing things that seems right in our own eyes. Proverbs tell us this, “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death” (Pro.14:12, NLT). Humanity desperately needs all the promises of God. Without them we are in constant danger of spiritual and physical exposure. In most cases for humanity, this is the way Satan tempts humans to sin on this second point – through ignorance and self-reliance instead of looking to God’s Word and promises for guidance and support. And of course, as we get to be more versed with God’s promises, remember the command to never put God to the test by trying Him on His promises. Just believe and trust His Word wholeheartedly.
(You can read more on this vital topic by going to my post, “Standing On The Promises” at: http://bulamanriver.net/15209)
3 Materialism: What does materialism mean when it comes to Satan tempting humans to sin? Let’s learn from Jesus’ own encounter with this aspect of the devil’s temptation. We will pick up the account from the Message translation, “For the third test, the Devil took Him to the peak of a huge mountain. He gestured expansively, pointing out all the earth’s kingdoms, how glorious they all were. Then he said, “They’re yours—lock, stock, and barrel. Just go down on your knees and worship me, and they’re yours.” Jesus’ refusal was curt: “Beat it, Satan!” He backed his rebuke with a third quotation from Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God, and only Him. Serve Him with absolute single-heartedness” (Matt.4:8-10). From the account, we can see there are two obvious temptations here that can befall man: materialism and power. They both go hand in hand. Because of the diverse application of each we will deal with them separately. We will deal with materialism in the third temptation, and power and influence in the fourth temptation.
What is materialism? As a form of temptation, materialism has a broader across-the-board effect upon humanity. It affects people at every level of societal structure and economic strata. Jesus said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Luk.12:15). Greed and avarice can be manifested in the broad spectrum of human relationship as it concerns material concerns. Materialism is idolatry and goes against one of God’s commands. (Exo.20:3-6) Idolatry means to worship material things which people assign higher value than their worship of God. Our lives can become totally wrapped up in the material life and its net effect is we render God’s Word and promises ineffectual due to our reliance upon them through the fallen self who worships material things. Our lives are dictated by them and become literal gods.
Basically, that is what materialism does – we turn on the ‘self-reliance switch’ and turn off the ‘God-reliance switch’ through His promises. Self-reliance becomes self-worship inspired by Satan. In ‘self-reliance’ we falsely assume this is ‘my doing,’ ‘my way,’ ‘my dreams,’ imagining you are the master of your own destiny. Little do we realize that inadvertently Satan is actually the one who is worshiped. Unwittingly, humans have become mere puppets he manipulates in his evil schemes. (Rev.12:9; 2 Cor.11:14) We turn off the ‘God-reliance switch’ along with His promises. (Pro.14:12; Rom.6:21) Our possessions has taken a higher meaning than our relationship with God and His promises. (You can read more about “The Trues Self and False Self” at: http://bulamanriver.net/7523).
Material prosperity is not evil of itself. God blesses humanity in this physical life. All the beautiful creation we see around us reveal His generosity. However, Jesus contextualizes this temptation in that the human life and God’s material blessing comes within the framework of the greater spiritual treasure of His Kingdom we ought to pursue first. He said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt.6:19-21, 33).
Note, there is material wealth and spiritual wealth. God is not denouncing material wealth, He is against the worship of material stuff as a false god. That is what materialism means. God created all wealth and all the riches of this world belongs to Him, and confers them upon us as stewards, not heirs of them – not yet! (see Rom.8:17-39) He declares, “The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the LORD Almighty” (Hag.2:8, also read Psa.24:1; Psa.50:10-11).
In other words, the material and physical are not true riches, but merely shadows, figures, of the greater spiritual treasures which are eternal and will never fade away. It is a matter of prioritizing their value in the way we live. You may read the Parable of The Rich Fool in Luke 12:13-21. Thereby, we must not live foolishly as to give ourselves to material riches at the expense of His Kingdom’s riches. The priority is to seek the true Kingdom wealth first, then the genuine physical wealth will follow automatically without our asking. (Matt.6:33) When humans are blessed by God, the material things brings true freedom and joy because they are interwoven with our eternal destiny rather than being end in themselves. On the other hand, Satan uses material things to enslave humans through idolatry.
Jesus answer to this temptation must ring audibly and clearly in our minds, “Worship the Lord your God, and only Him. Serve Him with absolute single-heartedness.”
4 Power & Influence: What is the temptation of power and influence which Satan tries to inflict upon humanity? Satan tempted Jesus by “Pointing out all the earth’s kingdoms, how glorious they all were.” Then he said, “They’re yours—lock, stock, and barrel. Just go down on your knees and worship me, and they’re yours” (Matt.4:8-9, MSG). Mattthew Henry is his commentary said, “The glory of the world is the most charming temptation to the unthinking and unwary; by that men are most easily imposed upon.” So much so, people can become drunk with power, whether it is in politics, in military domination, in business empires, in family legacies, even in human talents like music and athletic prowess, in the occult, satanism and mystical affiliations, the accumulation of money and possessions, in personal dreams and projects, etc. Materialism aside, this is about have the power and influence to control others and desired outcomes. It is about acknowledging and bowing to the spirit of competition and domination. In the beginning, God gave humanity dominion over the earth to administer in Love. (Gen.1:26; Psa.8:3-9) But Satan has turned dominion into domination. Since worldly power comes from the devil, then it is about worshiping Satan.
When power, in whatever form or appearance, is idolized and worshiped, be it personal or collective, then Satan is its prime motivator. Christ rejected this proposal with abhorrence and declared, “Away from Me, Satan!” From this fourth temptation, we see the ultimate purpose of his deception, he is seeking to be worshiped. Self-worship is devil-worship. People may imagine their own ideas, but ignore who is behind the scenes, and it is the devil as instigator who is actually worshiped. And that can never happen because there is only One who is worthy of worship – God Almighty! Jesus answers perfectly when He answers Satan, “For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’”
The Scriptures tells us plainly the truth about power, “Once God has spoken; Twice I have heard this: That power belongs to God” (Psa.62:11, NASB). The Bible explains how this divine power can be made to inhabit human life. Jesus said, “All authority (power) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me” (Matt.28:18). The divine power of God is channeled to mankind only through Jesus who took our humanity into Himself (Immanuel) and glorified it in the Triune Godhead of the Father, Son, and Spirit. The power Satan exercises in this fallen world is given under God’s suffrage until His divine purpose is completed. (Rom.13:1-2; John 19:11) Satan was allowed to create a worldly system that’s based on lies, and deception, but they are really illusions. Beginning with Adam, he has created pseudo and artificial power bases which has no basis in reality to God’s sovereign power by which He creates and sustains the universe and all in it, both in the spiritual and physical realms.
Humanly speaking, all of creation from which we see power manifested ultimately finds its source in God, not Satan. The enemy possesses no power to create nor is he given free hand to do with humanity as he pleases, or else we would have been destroyed long ago. His power is given under constraint and under proviso. It is one where he deceives, lies, and masquerades illusions for realities in order to keep humanity blinded to the truth. In other words, God limits all his evil intents and actions for His own divine purposes. If Satan’s power is artificial and temporary, why do we invest our lives and souls upon something that’s fabricated and based upon lies and deception? Jesus said, “What profit will a person have if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life (soul)?” (Mar.8:36, ISV). That is the question that stares us in the face and demands a just answer.
Yes, that is the end-result – it’s nothing more than a mirage and has no power in reality, and anyone who bets his life on it will lose it. The “whole world” means the devil’s world. Though worldly power may seem real in the physical sense, we are reminded by Elijah about where the true power base lies, he said, “Don’t be afraid. We have more forces on our side than they have on theirs” (2 King 6:16, GWT).
Consider the various world-ruling empires that have existed upon this earth which have eventually disappeared for one reason or other. There were world-dominant empires of Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, Rome, Mongols, Caliphates, Spanish and British empires, and others. Why? Because it is power that exist in a vacuum (world) unbeknownst by humans through deception by Satan. This applies to all kinds of power bases, not just political. Why not invest in the real thing, in true power? Why not invest in God’s world – the Kingdom of God of which Christ is King of kings, and Lord of lords. (Rev.19:16) To lose your true self to a power that cannot stand the test of time and reality (eternity) is nothing short of absurd and ludicrous. It ought not to be worthy of our consideration. It is a shameful proposition to even consider losing your divine destiny as a person made in the Creator’s image for a promise for empty power.
Here is a promise of God’s power He gives to support and defend us, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isa.41:10, ESV). Here’s another similar promise, “No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their vindication is from Me, declares the LORD” (Isa. 54:17). We saw the promise about angelic protection which Satan quoted to Jesus, “For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (Psa.91:11). Here’s an all-important one from Jesus Himself, “For My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day” (John 6:40).
Yes, God gives us power, but it is all about vindicating His purpose in each of us. It usually starts small – overcoming the ‘false self’ (Adam’s fallen humanity), and living the ‘true self’ (Christ’s new glorified humanity) by means of the framework where life is lived overcoming the four temptations of the enemy. It is the expression of a Love relationship with our God and our heavenly Father. When we will have grown to genuinely live the “Triune Life,”* His power will manifest itself in our lives. For divine power proceeds forth from no other place than His Trinitarian Being. When we find our place in His Triune Being we will receive gifts with divine power in the Spirit to carry out His divine will for us in our walk of faith. (Eph.4:7-8)
The Scriptures utters God’s promise for those who wait upon Him, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor.2:9). Yes, it is beyond what our limited human mind can fathom, but in a restrained way, much like squinting in a fog and peering through a mist as Eugene Peterson states aptly, we are made to understand for the Spirit reveals to us the hidden things of God, “These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God” (1 Cor.2:9-10, ESV). This is the miraculous life believers are privileged to live supernaturally in the Spirit.
Conclusion: The enemy’s role in the four temptations follows on from his initial rebellion against God and His plan for humanity. (Isa.14:12-14) So he promotes his lies and create deceptions, sows schism and discord wherever he can in humanity to hinder and destroy the Love relationship with God, and if possible, to totally sever this Love relationship altogether. And these are four of his main arsenals with which he attacks us, and if possible, destroy our Love relationship with God our Father. But Satan will not succeed because God’s plan to create mankind in His Trinitarian image and likeness will never be thwarted. God created man to Love God above all else, and secondarily to Love his neighbor as he Loves himself. (Mar.12:29-31) Jesus said “there is no greater commandment than these” two, therefore, all of creation is merely the vehicle and means by which to accomplish that singular end. Everything in the created universe was never intended to be taken as end in themselves much less worshiped and idolized. That divine end is very simply to fulfill our purpose as humans of living life in God’s likeness and image of Love, for the Scriptures say, “God is Love” (1 John 4:8,16).
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Petition: Friends, thank you for investing your precious time with me in the sharing of the good news of Jesus’ new humanity the Father has given us to adopt. Jesus is alive today as our High Priest ceaselessly mediating for us. I hope that in your heart of heart you will receive Jesus as your personal Savior, receive God’s Spirit, and be part of a gloriously magnificent future for humanity. You can privately and quietly pray this prayer in your heart. I am asking you to pray this prayer as a human Christ died for, not as a member of any religious sect or denomination:
“Almighty God, Father of all humanity, forgive me of all my sins for I receive Your Son, Jesus, as my personal Savior. In Your incalculable grace, grant Your promised rebirth into Jesus’ Immanuel Humanity through Your Holy Spirit, and open my eyes to the wondrous gifts you have conferred upon me. May Your Love guide and protect me and my loved ones always, and bring us and all humanity into Your beloved and divine Kingdom. I praise and thank You, Amen.”
Welcome to the Life of Love in God’s eternal Triune Being and Family. Then keep in touch with God’s word for you by visiting this blog and website and look at various subjects that may be relevant for your situation. Or you can email me with your question at the address shown below.
If you have any thoughts and observation you wish to share, please don’t hesitate to write to me in the space provided below, or email me on email@example.com
Blessing: Until we meet again in my next post, may the blessings of the God who ceaselessly expresses Himself in His dependable Triune Love,* be with you always. May the Spirit enliven your spirit and make all things concerning you possible as you live the Triune Love. Be strong in the Lord’s joy.
Farewell for now,
Kiang P. Lee (Your Servant In Christ)
*Triune Life or Triune Love: The “Triune Life” is a way of life. Its foundational tenet is based upon the Love of God, because Love is the nature of God. (1 John 4:8; Rom.5:5) I had coined the term “Triune Love” and “Triune Life,” to refer to a person who lives the three-dimensional life within the Tri-Personal Godhead of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In the three-dimensional life, the human experience of God’s Love is always moving in an inward, outward, and upward motion where all the three Persons of the Godhead are in relational oneness with humanity. (2 Cor.13:14; 1 Pet.1:1-2)
Man’s union with the Triune God, or “Triune Living/Loving,” is made possible by Jesus, who Himself, is one in substance and reality with the Triune Godhead. (John 1:1-2) He took our humanity into the very Being of the Triune Godhead by cleansing it of all sin and rebellion. To live the “Triune Love (Life)” is the miraculous expression of the Spirit (Love) in humans. (Rom.5:5) The miraculous life is the promise of the New Covenant, “I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My ordinances, and do them” (Ezek.36:27) The three-dimensional Triune Life/Love is opposed to living the one-dimensional solitary life of the fallen humanity inherited from Satan through Adam’s rebellion. You can read more at: http://bulamanriver.net/?p=8036. Also at: http://bulamanriver.net/9092.
**Bulamanriver: To read the different facets of the life of the Bulamanriver, you may obtain a copy of my book, “Bula” Man-River, from Amazon.com; xulonpress.com, barnesandnoble.com, and other online book stores. All proceeds will go towards furthering the work of Gospel of Jesus Christ around the world.
Mission Statement: Read the Triune Love Mission, Vision, and Value statements at: http://bulamanriver.net/8664
All scriptures are taken from the NIV Version 2011, unless stated otherwise.
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