Preacher: Pastor Ray
Summary: Jesus demonstrates how He walked in victory during His time of testing in the wilderness. We, too, can walk in the same victory by 1) filling ourselves with the Word, 2) expressing thanksgiving in every situation, and 3) refusing to bow the knee to anybody or anything but Jesus.
Happy Mother’s Day everybody! My favorite mothers in the in the whole world are here in this room. Before I pray, I have some thoughts about Mother’s Day. There is a range of thoughts and emotions on Mother’s Day. If you grew up in a Christian home and your mother is still living and you have a good relationship, Mother’s Day brings a lot of joy. If your mother has passed or if your mother is not on the same page spiritually or if you have a strained relationship with your mother, then Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can be very difficult holidays.
I want you to look past the actual person, the actual mother, the actual father, and see that we are made in the image of God. So when we think about the perfect mother or the perfect father, we have to go a step further and remember God. He is our Heavenly Father and in a sense, He is our Perfect Mother. There are different depictions in the Bible. You have the Strong Protector and the Tower of Refuge. You have the One who disciplines us because He loves us. He is the Father. You also have Jesus on his way to the Cross saying, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how I wish to gather you like a mother hen gathers her chicks. Yes, we remember and we are grateful for our actual earthly mothers and fathers, but always on these holidays, go a step further. It is about remembering God and His characteristics. He is the Perfect Mother and Perfect Father. Every Christian, we need to go to that step on these holidays.
Let’s pray. Father, we thank you for Mother’s Day. We thank you for our earthly mothers and earthly fathers who cared for us and raised us and loved us as best they could even with their deficiencies. You reminded us recently that even evil, earthly fathers know how to give good gifts to their children. But Lord, You are a perfect Heavenly Father. You give the best gift of the Holy Spirit. Father, You are also so motherly and so nurturing. When the kids are sick, it’s the mother whose staying up all night with the children. That is the kind of love and character that You have. So on this day, we remember you, Lord. We give you the glory. We are made in Your image. Even as fallen mothers and fathers, we only approximate a certain degree of who You are. We only capture just a glimpse. You are far more motherly and fatherly in the best sense that we can even imagine. On this day, we remember You. Thank you. Lord, we ask that You speak to us today about spiritual battle. Teach us how to be victorious the same way that You, Lord Jesus, were victorious. In Jesus name we pray, Amen
1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
The one point today has three parts. The same way that Jesus was victorious during these 40 days, we too can be victorious. The victory is made available to us, but we must walk in it. We must claim it. We must move in the same way that Jesus moved. The victory of Jesus is in three parts here. First, He overcame his flesh and His body by being filled with the Word of God. Secondly, He overcame His emotions and He trusted the Lord. And thirdly, He only bowed the knee to the Lord His Father.
For us as Christians, we too must fill ourselves with the Word of God. Secondly, we must trust and specifically we must be thankful. And thirdly, we must bow the knee only to Jesus. Then you and I will walk in the same victory that Jesus walked.
It was an odd thing that Jesus was baptized in Matthew 3 because He was not a sinner. But Jesus said, I need to do this to fulfill righteousness. Why of all people, why the Sinless One? Why is He fasting and enduring this temptation for 40 days?
I want to point out in verse 1 that the Spirit led Him there. The Spirit led Him into the wilderness. Part of the Lord’s Prayer asks the Father to lead us away from the evil one and away from temptation, right? And that is a good prayer to pray, that we are to be guarded. We need to be protected. We need to be wary of the evil one who is at every corner.
But there are cases when the Spirit Himself will guide you into the wilderness, and Satan is there waiting for you. In Old Testament Hebrew, there is one word used that has two meanings. The word that means test and can also mean tempt. In the same way in the New Testament Greek, the word used for test is also used for tempt. One word with two meanings. And it really depends on the context.
While God is testing you, according to Deuteronomy 8, to see what’s in your heart, at the same time Satan is tempting you. So you’re here in the middle and you can either rise through the testing or you can fall through the tempting. It’s the same word and there are two spiritual forces at work. God is trying to refine you. God is trying to show you what’s in your heart. God is trying to get you to repent. God is trying to to make you into a trusting and thankful person. At the same time Satan is trying to drag you down.
The reason why Jesus went through these 40 days of fasting is to give us this picture of what the Israelites should have been. They left Egypt and they were baptized through the Red Sea. Then they were in the wilderness for 40 years. God was testing them and if they passed the test, they would be given the assignment to conquer and take territory — the Promised Land. That was a foreshadowing of our ministry on earth and our future promised land.
Jesus is baptized. He is now being tempted or tested in the wilderness for 40 days, symbolizing the 40 years. Instead of falling, He is rising and He is showing us and giving us a pattern for the Christian that we too can rise and be victorious in Him. Even before we talk about ministry, I think every believer goes through this. We go through our baptism. That’s step one.
We go through our testing. And then the assignment is given.
I made the mistake that I did not know I needed to be tested. From day one when I became a Christian, I was taught that I should be doing things. When I look at Jesus, that’s just not right. Jesus in a sense was waiting and being prepared for 30 years. Then even He needed to prove that His heart is pure and that He will be a good worker, that He’ll be faithful and He’ll do the Father’s will. After He succeeds these 40 days, God says your ministry begins.
The first temptation is a temptation against our flesh. Satan is attacking our flesh or body in the first one. He’s attacking our soul and specifically our emotions in the second one, and lastly he’s attacking our spirit. To boil down all three, the attack comes through our mind, the battlefield is our mind, how we think, our thoughts.
If you look at James 1, our thoughts are dangerous if not restrained. It’s our thoughts that stem from our desires and if this is conceived and is fully grown, it becomes sin, and sin becomes death. It starts with the thoughts and the desires. In Matthew 4, Jesus is giving such good advice on what to do with our thoughts because if you just let your thoughts run wild and unchecked, will it produce godliness? Does it naturally move toward loving a neighbor when your thoughts are just spinning. If you leave your thoughts unchecked, doesn’t it spiral into selfishness and into sin? Jesus is saying, man does not live on bread alone, but man lives on the very word, the Rhema that comes from the mouth of God.
Why are we so susceptible to Satan tempting us in our thoughts? Because we’re not living on the Word of God. We’re not consuming it. Imagine Jesus after 40 days of fasting, physically He is hungry and I think that’s a picture spiritually. We have many Christians who just are not feeding on the Word and we are hungry. And no wonder our thoughts are so susceptible. First of all, it could be just our own thoughts. Many times, it’s just our own thoughts. If our own thoughts are not in check, we’re in trouble. And there are satanic attacks that bombard us at the same time.
And if it doesn’t stop, we look at this kind of person and label that as mental illness because we think there are certain thoughts that should not be there. We can’t help it and these thoughts just keep coming in. We give it labels. But in a sense, we’re all on the spectrum spiritually. This is how attacks work. Through the thoughts. Some Christians just know how to guard their thoughts and know what to do with their thoughts better than other people. And we might have it together. No one is putting us in a mental hospital.
But what are you doing with your thoughts? Because Satan and even your own thoughts if you don’t put them in check, they will lead you towards sin. It says that we live on every Word that comes from the mouth of God and this is Rhema, the spoken Word of God. How does this work? Because we read the Logos, which is the written Word of God. So how does it actually feed us?
Imagine if you just consumed the written Word of God. First, you consumed it. Multiple times a day, like we do with our meals. We eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Let’s assume that we spiritually took that same principle and we just filled ourselves with the Logos, the written Word, and then somewhere along the way in that day, God reveals something because the Rhema that comes from the mouth of God is is something that is supernaturally revealed to us when we study the Bible. It’s not like SAT Reading Comprehension. That’s the way I used to view it. I just need to study it. I need to parse the words. I need to see what’s the main point of this and just use my brain.
You can do that, but then you’re just staying at the Logos level and that will not necessarily feed you. When it says man does not live on bread alone but the spoken Word, it’s like you are filling up with the written Word and then somewhere along the way, the Rhema comes. Understanding is given and that Rhema is enough to feed you for that day. And sometimes it’s like beef jerky. You just take it and it’s good to go in five minutes. You open the Word, the Rhema comes and you can grab and go and you’re good.
Other times you have to get a little more and wait a little longer. Filet mignon has to be cooked just right. God prepares a meal for you and it’s delicious because you’ve taken in your filling up with the written and somewhere along the way God serves you the meal and so here it is. This is for you today.
Other times it doesn’t come after five minutes or an hour or two hours. You have to sit on it for a week. To me, that’s like beef stew. It’s just stewing in the background. For example, I’m sitting on Matthew because I know this is a text that I need to sit on. And sometimes, it’s early in the week and He gives me a Word. Sometimes, it’s 3am on a Sunday morning, which I prefer not to have. Imagine if we lived that way and we just filled up with the written Word and we’re expecting every day that He’s going to give me a spoken Word. Spiritually, you would be so protected.
I made the mistake in my younger years. I chalk it up to bad discipleship. So much of my devotion time was spent on introspection. So much of it was introspection. And I can tell you after decades of doing Christian life like that, it doesn’t help. You just get lost in your thoughts. And you uncover one wickedness and then you just keep digging, there’s more wickedness.
All those hours that I spent trying to dissect myself — what if I just meditated on God’s Word and I asked for the Rhema instead? Because my thoughts, I don’t want to be consumed with my thoughts. My thoughts will usually lead me to sin.
Yes, we have to use our brain for work and for school, but when it comes to yourself and for life, put away your thoughts. Put away your thoughts. Meditate instead on God’s thoughts. If you don’t put away your thoughts, you will get yourself in trouble. Put away your thoughts. Don’t be overly introspective. Focus on the written Word and wait for the spoken. If you want to be victorious the same way that Jesus was, we need to consume chunks of the written Word. And wait for the spoken Word
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
It almost seems like these verses do no connect. Because the devil is quoting from Psalm 91 and talking about the protection of God, that if you fall, like you’re on the edge of a cliff and you fall, God can send His angels to catch you up so that your foot doesn’t strike the ground. And if anybody is entitled to this type of protection, it’s the Son of God.
If Jesus slipped, which I doubt but let’s say he slipped on the top of the Mount of Transfiguration, I bet Psalm 91 would be fulfilled. If He slipped. But Satan is saying, no, why don’t You jump? That’s different than slipping and being caught by angels. This is deliberately jumping.
And this one I think is an attack on our emotions because we see from Jesus’ response — you shall not put the Lord your God to thes test.
And right away, we should remember the Israelites in the desert who tested the Lord 10 times. They didn’t have food. They grumbled. They tested the Lord. They didn’t have water. They tested the Lord. They grumbled. The spies came back with a good report. They didn’t believe the good report. They didn’t trust and they tested the Lord. 10 times they tested the Lord.
And if you’re a person who is being tested by the Lord, how do you know whether or not you’re passing the test? You don’t grumble. Whatever the Lord has given to you as your current assignment, you don’t grumble. But Satan, he will attack you through your thoughts and your thoughts will quickly, if left unchecked, will quickly move to your emotions. Before, it was, turn these stones to bread. And Jesus could have done it and He would have defiled His body.
If Jesus grumbled. Satan would have succeeding in Jesus defiling His soul. When we grumble, we defile our soul. And so, somebody who truly trusts in the Lord and has submitted to God’s test, what comes out of their mouth is not grumbling, it’s thanksgiving. You’re just a thankful person.
And for the Israelites in the wilderness, it was a very real test. Could they be thankful because that means they trust the Lord? Like they’re just kicking sand every day, the same food, they’re thirsty. They’re hungry. But they’re never on the verge of dying. We should remember that. They’re not on the verge of dying. They’re not on the verge of dying of thirst. I bet by the third day, there is some water. Maybe not every day.
And God is true to His Word. He guarantees every one of his believers. We will not starve. We will not die of thirst. And He will clothe you. And these Israelites, even their clothing did not wear out. They had enough food. Maybe not enough to become obese. They could not enjoy all different kinds of food and as much quantity of food as they wanted. They had just enough so that they would not starve. There are thirsty. Their lips are probably parched on most days. But just when they think, I’m going to die of thirst, water comes gushing out from a rock.
The Holy Spirit led Jesus in this 40-day test. And there are times when the Holy Spirit will lead us through a wilderness. And He wants to see, do you trust Him? Are you thankful to Him? Other people look at your situation and say, nah, you should complain. You’re entitled to have a better life. You don’t deserve this.
Imagine if Jesus did that. Yeah, I’m entitled to a better life. I’m the Son of God. I’ll jump and the angels will catch me. No, He saw right through the deception. This is an issue of testing the Lord vs trusting the Lord. I will not test the Lord the same way that Israel tested the Lord.
So for us to be victorious spiritually over every temptation that comes through our mind, first, we need to fill up with the Word. And wait for the spoken Word. Second, we need to trust the Lord by being thankful. And that’s so hard because we pray for God to lead us into a job and then we complain about the job when God was the One who gave you the job. You thanked Him initially. And then after a few months, you’re complaining about it. See, the Lord is testing our heart. He wants to know what will come out. Is it grumbling, or is it thanksgiving?
God led you into a difficult marriage to accomplish His purposes. There’s a reason. Are you going to complain? Are you going to say, thank you, Lord?
Children who are difficult and you rather just send them off to school instead of homeschooling them. They’re fighting and you have to deal with them every hour of every day. You can either complain, saying, Lord, this is not what I signed up for. All the other parents I see, they have an easier path. Why can’t I send them to school?
Or, you can say, Lord, You have given me this assignment. Thank you, Lord. I don’t see the full picture, but I trust You. Thank you, Lord. If you do this, if you have to actually utter the words “thank you, Lord” even when your emotions are fighting you and you don’t feel like saying it. You have to get into the pattern spiritually of putting your emotions and your soul under the authority of your spirit. The same way the psalmist, he says, why are you downcast, O my soul. His spirit is commanding his soul to rise. His spirit is exercising authority over his soul.
And so when you don’t feel it, the temptation will be, let your emotions out. Just vent. Just let it all out. No, the Christian, we put down those emotions. We know that our emotions are not trustworthy. We put down our thoughts. We know that these things, that these thoughts are going to get me into trouble. And even though it’s hard. we forced out the words. thank you, Lord. And you do it until you mean it. Even though it’s a difficult situation, you’re in the wilderness, you say, thank you, Lord.
The wilderness is difficult. It’s not a stroll through the park. It’s not going to the beach. It is difficult what the Israelites went through. Jesus going through the 40 days of fasting is difficult. The Holy Spirit will lead us into into seasons that are very difficult. The Lord is humbling you to test what’s in your heart. Out of your heart, will there be grumbling, or will there be thanksgiving?
And lastly, it’s pretty straightforward.
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
And in this one, Satan is not messing around anymore. He’s going for the heart. He’s going for the essence. All of the deception, the main goal is this one where he has your spirit. And if you bow down to anything in this world, Satan has you. If you bow down to anything, it doesn’t have to be as grand as all the kingdoms of this world, anything in this world that is ruled by Satan — that includes your career, that includes people, that includes your purpose — if you bow down to anything in this world, Satan has you.
And we have to resolve as Christians, I will bow down to nobody, to nothing except Jesus. Because in the end, when Jesus returns, it will be so clear that that’s what we should have been doing all along. Because when Jesus returns as the Lion of Judah, all creatures in heaven and saints will bow down to Jesus. Every inhabitant of earth whether believer or non-believer will bow down to Jesus. And every creature under the earth — every demonic, unclean spirit as well as Satan himself — when Jesus returns, all will bow down to King Jesus.
You might not be aware that you’re doing it. You just want that person, that boss to think well of you. You just want to succeed. You just want the approval of your parents. We just want the praise of men. These things seem harmless. But Jesus is giving us insight. He’s letting us know that Satan is after your spirit. And if he has you there through his many means in this world, it’s game over. And so for us to be victorious spiritually, we have to fill up with the Word. Put down your thoughts. Don’t think too much. If you think too much, you’re going to get into trouble. Don’t think too much. Instead, fill up with the Word and wait for the spoken Word.
Imagine if every day you’re just filling up with the Word, saying, okay, nothing is coming, I’m going to keep reading. Oh, this Word seems interesting. Okay, Lord, I’m going to sit on this Word. This may be like 10 chapters into your Bible reading for that day and you just sit on some Word. Maybe you just sit on that for the week. And God feeds you the same way that He did the Israelites when manna came from heaven every day. You get something some days — it’s like beef jerky. Some days, it’s like filet mignon. Some days, it’s like beef stew. It just takes longer to prepare, but you’re waiting for that Rhema, that spoken Word. You’ll do so well if you lived this way.
The reason why Jesus is not is not stumbled by any of these temptations is because He has a perfectly redeemed mind, the mind of Christ. He sees right through the deception. Even though Satan is throwing Bible verses at Him, He sees right through his deception.
And imagine if we had that same mind, the same mindset and we thought like Jesus. And we saw life the way Jesus saw life. And the same way that Jesus waited each day for God’s Word so that He knew what He was supposed to do in his earthly ministry for that day, we, too, lived the same way. If we lived that way, we would do so well.
Secondly, Satan will attack you in your soul through your emotions. God is trying to refine you. He’s trying to see — is there thanksgiving in your heart? Satan wants the grumbling to come out so that you defile your soul. He wants your emotions to run rampant. We need to restrain our emotions. We need to force out, thank you, Lord. Force it out until you believe it.
And lastly, simply look at your life. Who has your ear? Who are you mindful of? It could be that you are actually submitting under these things, these people. Never submit to any authority, a parent, a pastor, nobody. Just Jesus. And wherever He leads you, that’s where you got to go. Whatever He says to you, that’s what you got to do. And you will serve the Lord because you’ve submitted to Jesus.
Father, thank you, Lord. We now get a better understanding of why in Matthew 3, Jesus, the Sinless One, was baptized. And now in Matthew 4, why the Sinless One again is tested for 40 days. The Israelites were also baptized as they walked through the Red Sea. It was their salvation moment. And they were tested for 40 years. And Lord, You humbled them to show them what You already knew what was in their heart. It wasn’t thanksgiving. It wasn’t trust. It was a grumbling, which stemmed from unbelief. And that entire generation perished in the wilderness. Only Joshua Caleb and a handful of others receive the assignment and began ministry.
We’re not in a rush to accomplish many things in this world. Lord, we patiently submit to every test of the Holy Spirit. You want us to fill up with the Word. Lord, we fill up with so many other things and our thoughts are left unchecked. No wonder we struggle. Lord, help us now to rechannel all of that mental energy to Your Word while we wait for the spoken Word. And when it comes, Lord, we will live on that Word, not on the bread, but on every Word that comes from the mouth of God.
Father, we pray for our emotions. Many times, Satan, he comes to our thoughts and he attacks our emotions. And we grumble. And you’re exposing a heart that does not believe, that does not trust. Lord, we pray that we would force words of gratitude until we believe, until we can say, Lord, I trust you. Even though part of us is not trusting, we don’t want to complain. Lord, help us to resist the grumbling. Help us to put down those thoughts, that our spirit can command our downcast soul to rise.
Father, the most important thing is that our spirit is made alive and is revived and is functioning properly. Lord, forgive us for all the ways that we have bowed down to things in this world or people in this world when you, Lord Jesus, are the only Person we are to bow the knee and worship before because that’s what worship means. It means to bow the knee.
Meet us now, Lord. As we meditate on this Word. we want to leave this place equipped to be victorious in our body and our soul / emotions and our spirit. You’ve given us tools to be victorious. The same way that You were victorious, this victory is made available to us. You’re showing us how, Lord. Now we must walk in it.
We pray for victory. We pray for many testimonies of victory to be born based on this sermon. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen