Jesus taught us some important things about the devil. Firstly, Jesus knew he was real.
Immaterial yes, but Jesus lets us know the accuser is very real in a spiritual sense. Secondly, the accuser’s main goal is to spread ruin in our souls and in our societies. The third things we learn from Jesus is that the Satan’s (Accusers) main method for doing this is through lies (John 8:44).
How much of our society is laid waste by lies?
For example, there’s a lie in our society that pornography is ok as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. What the lie doesn’t tell us is that when we expose ourselves to this, we are going to school.
What we are taught is that one person is not enough. They are only a body to be enjoyed. We can easily be fooled into the lie that this false intimacy can fill an actual good need that God has placed within us.
That’s the catch, temptation plays to usually a legitimate need for, rest, acceptance, intimacy, hunger or emotions like anger, sadness, grief or loneliness.
It’s not that these are wrong in themselves, but the accuser is the most cunning adversary and will use any to make us falter.
Temptation starts as a thought. Maybe it plays to one of these areas for you. Usually, temptation is a short cut to a legitimate need. It’s meeting a legitimate need but not God’s way.
Jesus gets this, he understands all to well. In Matthew Chapter 4 we read that Jesus was tempted in the desert after forty days of fasting.
Only then did the accuser approach Him. The accuser starts in the same way he did on Eve in the garden in Genesis 3. ‘If you really are the Son of God….’
Satan tries to undermine the fact the Father had only just said to all who witnessed Jesus’ baptism ‘This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased Matthew 3:17.
The enemy after all is wanting to destroy your soul. The first attack is at your identity in God. A beloved child. Eve fell for this and so do we.
Jesus though, coming as the second Adam, does what Adam and Eve didn’t achieve. He lives the life free from sin even though he was tempted.
Jesus’ temptation wasn’t for bread or to be saved from throwing himself down into the temple for everyone to see God save him, or even to gain the cities and kingdoms of the world.
Jesus’ temptation centred on the desire he had to bring about God’s kingdom, but to gain it quickly through other means. If Jesus turned stones into bread, he could have won hungry crowds, if He threw himself into the temple and God stopped him from even a scratch all the religious leaders would herald him as the Messiah, if he had worshipped the accuser and gained all the kingdoms and been king, Jesus would have forfeited bringing about God’s kingdom here on earth through the redemption of mankind.
Jesus stood firm when the serious battle of temptation came in on Him. He did so by combatting the enemy with God’s word. Scripture to keep His focus on God’s ways.
How do we fare when temptation arises?
Are we filling our minds with the enemy’s pervasive tsunami of worldly thinking that is all around us as we entertain ourselves or wind down?
Or do we simply find God’s point of view to enable us to stand firm when temptation arises.
Evagrius was a monastic Monk in the second century who went into the desert to learn from the experience from Jesus. He wrote down a collection of his most personal battles with temptation. He later wrote ‘Talking back’ A Monastic Handbook for Combatting Demons’. That must be the best by line ever.
Evagrius’ approach echoed Pauls 2 Corinthians 10:5,
We take every thought prisoner and make it obey the Messiah.
Evagrius’ wrote down the temptation, be it a feeling, thought, sensation.
After that he would write ‘What’s the lie here that reveals my attachment?’ and he would examine himself to see what the temptation highlighted.
Then Evagrius would then ask the Holy Spirit for a scripture to combat this, to show Him God’s way. Then he would write this down.
This simple approach helps the rubber meet the road as Christians. A practical way in which we can deploy the use of scripture as Jesus did and have victory in our lives and enjoy the freedom from Sin that Jesus paid for us. Living free from guilt, shame and lies of the enemy is what Kingdom living is all about.