Wednesday March 1, 2023
HE WAS TEMPTED BY THE DEVIL
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
There is a spiritual power of evil that both exists and has a purpose—to get you to either forfeit or extinguish the precious gift of life your Creator has given you.
In the wilderness, Jesus contended with the devil not as one contends with an equal, but as one contends with a persistent distraction from vocation.You address it or you drift, you succumb, you lose faith in your own God-graced name. The path of life is taken, or the path of death (Ps. 16:11).That’s the fight that is on.
In the Middle Ages, if you view art from that time period, you’ll see the satan, meaning “accuser” or “adversary,” depicted as a scaly, horned creature obviously bent on doing no good. This same kind of embodiment of satan, or “the satan” as the Hebrew suggests, continues to soften as history marches on. I think that’s a good thing. Evil rarely presents itself as evil; it usually presents itself as a higher good.
The satan, as we reflect on the broader image of the devil passed down from ancient Hebrew tradition, is a spiritual presence that bends the heart toward wickedness. However we understand the satan, there is a real demonic spirit of accusation and dehumanization alive in the world, a spiritual power that wars against the Creator’s agenda and seeks to unseat the royal priesthood of God (you and I, according to 1 Peter 2:9) from our understanding of our place as a child of God and as the beloved of God.
In fact, that spiritual power is after everyone made in the image of God. Almost immediately after Jesus was baptized in the waters of the Jordan, the Father and Spirit present, and almost as soon as Jesus received the belovedness blessing of his Abba and his clear vocational call as the Son of God, that vocation was challenged. And we know our adversary does not play fair. In fact, one of the satan’s primary ways of taking out beloved children of God, and those made in God’s image, is to get us alone and then accuse us until we break and believe his evil, peppering, nagging, relentless, breath-stealing voice.
The satan, the accuser, knows the Lord who walked out of those baptismal waters. The satan knows that his mission is to “destroy the works of the evil one” (1 John 3:8). The satan knows that the life of the world is at stake. So, in the temptation that came with the testing in the wilderness, all bets were off, and the devil, as always, was pulling no punches. All of hell’s fury was released at Jesus.
Friends and family, if you don’t believe there is an enemy of your soul who is out to steal your life from you—one hateful thought, impression, narrative at a time—then you are being set up for a fall. Hell has one goal: to extinguish your life and end the possibility that you would find your hope in God.
Jesus confronted and defeated the satan in the wild. He held onto his belovedness and vocation. You and I can as well, because his Spirit lives within us.That’s the way this works; the mystery of the gospel is Christ in us (Col. 1:27).
Have you ever seen a situation that was filled with evil righted by God and turned around for his glory? What was that like?
Lord of the Wild, we know that voice that seeks to steal, kill, and destroy in our spirits. Help us to defeat the accuser, as Jesus did, with the Word of God in our hearts and the Spirit of God contending for us. In Jesus’s name, amen.
Songs for the Wilderness
First 15 through the season of Lent is adapted from Jesus in the Wild: Lessons of Calling for Life in the World available through Seedbed. If you or your small group are interested in using this resource for your Lenten study, you can find more information here or send an email to email@example.com.
The First 15
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